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- Global Studies;
Rutgers Graduate Student Captures Top Prize from Center for First Amendment Studies
Melissa Jane Kronfeld's monograph advocates softer approach on counteracting violent extremism
Melissa Jane Kronfeld. a doctoral candidate and lecturer in the Global Affairs Program at Rutgers, has captured first-place honors and a $20,000 scholarship in the Richard A. Clarke Graduate Student Monograph Contest, created last year in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Kronfeld won the top prize with her monograph “Killing Them With Kindness: A Softer Approach to Preventing Violent Extremism and Countering Radicalization in the War on Terrorism.”
“I was humbled and honored to receive the award knowing I was competing against such an excellent group of student-scholars from across the nation,” said Kronfeld, 29, who expected to complete her Ph.D. in global governance with a focus on security issues in May 2014.
Graduate students from all across the country participated in the contest by submitting monographs that answered the following question: Beyond capturing and killing terrorists, some nations have seemingly evolved effective means of preventing violent extremism and countering radicalization. What are some of the better examples of such successful programs? How could such programs be more broadly utilized to combat terrorism against the United States?
The top three winners in the $35,000 competition were announced this week by the Center for First Amendment Studies at California State University, Long Beach.
“In my monograph I examine terrorist de-radicalization and disengagement programs in the Middle East, South East Asia and Europe, focusing on the best lessons learned from the religious versus secular approach, and their applicability to the United States’ War on Terrorism,” Kronfeld explained. “I posit that soft counter-terrorism practices are as equally important as hard counter-terorism tactics (i.e. capturing and killing terrorists) and I suggest that by focusing on the former, in addition to the latter, much can be gained in the fight against violent Islamist extremism.
“I conclude by noting that soft counter terrorism practices are not a panacea,” she added, “but rather a useful tool in deterring and rehabilitating extremists.”
Born and raised in New York City, Kronfeld has a B.A. in international relations from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. She also has two master’s degrees: a M.S. in global affairs from New York University’s Center for Global Affairs and a M.A. in global affairs from Rutgers University.
The contest was named in honor of Richard Clarke, who came to widespread public attention for his role as counter-terrorism czar in the Clinton and Bush administrations in March 2004, when he appeared on the “60 Minutes” television news magazine, released his memoir about his service in government, “Against All Enemies,” and testified before the 9/11 Commission. In all three instances, Clarke was sharply critical of the Bush Administration's attitude toward counter-terrorism before the 9/11 terrorist attacks and of the decision to go to war with Iraq.
Kronfeld remembers where she was on 9/11, and she was inspired by the work of Richard Clarke.
“I was a sophomore in D.C. on 9/11 studying international relations. I lived two blocks from the White House, so that day had a huge impact on my life and my academic career, as it did so many Americans,” she recalled. “I decided from that day on I was going to commit myself to studying and hopefully, one day, working to secure our nation at home and overseas.
“Richard A Clarke, his life, his work and his commitment to national security, is an inspiration to me and I took on the challenge in hopes of following in his footsteps,” she added. “I was hoping to win, not only to help fund my dissertation field work, but to make an impact in the field of national security.”The contest was made possible through a grant from Steven C. Markoff, who conceived and compiled the online database www.911plus.org. The winning monographs will be posted on the website of the CSULB center’s website at www.firstamendmentstudies.org and on www.911plus.org.
Media Contact: Craig Smith