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Our Team

sahla aroussi

Dr. Sahla Aroussi

Dr. Sahla Aroussi is an expert on gender, conflict and violence and particularly on the UN framework on ‘Women, Peace and Security’ and its implementation at the national and international levels. Sahla has conducted extensive research on peace settlements and peace processes and led a number of studies on sexual violence in armed conflicts in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sahla has also been involved in research on women, peace and security and violent extremism, conducting fieldwork in Tunisia, Kenya and New York on this issue. Sahla has published in leading international journals, such as Gender and Politics, The International Journal of Transitional Justice and the International Journal of Feminist Politics, and has contributed to multiple edited collections.

Her monograph, Women, Peace, and Security: Repositioning gender in peace agreements (2017), assesses how gender issues are negotiated and implemented in peace settlements around the world.

She has undertaken multiple research consultancies, including a major study in 2018 for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia on women in the judiciaries in countries of the MENA region.

bahar baser

Dr. Bahar Baser

Dr. Bahar Baser is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations. She is also an associate research fellow at the Security Institute for Governance and Leadership in Africa (SIGLA), Stellenbosch University, South Africa. She is an expert in the area of diaspora studies, peacebuilding and conflict transformation. She has conducted extensive research on diaspora engagement in peace processes, post-conflict reconstruction and state-building in the Global South. She has published extensively on stateless diaspora activism and mobilisation in Europe with a specific focus on host states’ counterterrorism policies, radicalization of diaspora members and transnationalization of homeland conflicts. Her book “Diasporas and Homeland Conflicts: A Comparative Perspective” was published by Routledge in 2015.

She has published in prestigious journals such as Terrorism and Political Violence, Critical Studies on Terrorism, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Civil Wars, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and Ethnicities.

Her research has been funded by the Swedish Institute, the Italian Foreign Ministry, Coventry University, Newton Mobility Fund, CBRL, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Gerda Henkel Stiftung and the Newton Fund-National Research Foundation (South Africa). She has written policy reports for Berghof Peace Foundation, TUSIAD Foreign Policy Forum, PRIO and the Heinrich Boll Foundation. She is the editor of Kurdish Studies Series, Lexington Books.

joel busher

Dr. Joel Busher

Dr. Joel Busher, Associate Professor and Chair of the Working Group on PVE and CVE, has led several major research projects and published extensively on the dynamics of political violence and anti-minority/far right activism. He frequently presents to and advises senior policymakers and practitioners in the UK and elsewhere. He jointly led the first major study of the implementation of PVE requirements within the UK education sector and has evaluated PVE interventions for the UK Home Office. He is an Associate Editor of Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression; edited a special issue of the Journal of Terrorism Research on Terrorism and Counter-terrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa.

He is an Expert Consultant on the International Consensus Guidelines Committee of the Canadian Practitioners Network for the Prevention of Radicalization and Extremist Violence (CPN-PREV), and is also a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Research on Extremism (C-REX) at the University of Oslo. He holds a PhD in International Development and tweets @joel_busher.

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Tom Fisher FRSA

Tom Fisher FRSA is a specialist in evaluation, has nearly 10 years’ experience working as a research and evaluation consultant for government departments, UK charities and international agencies such as the European Commission. Having led large-scale programmes of evaluation across many aspects of social policy, including social cohesion, migrant integration, dialogue, poverty alleviation, volunteering and social action, he has spent the last 3 years working on PVE, including being commissioned by the UK Home Office to lead the evaluation of key elements of the UK Government’s Prevent strategy. 

Tom is also the Programme Director of Coventry University’s Master of Public Administration in Global Diversity Governance and is completing a PhD in Sociology. He tweets @tomfisher123.


Laura Payne profile photo.

Laura Payne

Laura Payne is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations investigating the contributions of faith-based international humanitarian and development organisations to preventing violent conflict. Much of this work seeks to capture ‘everyday’ complex realities, with empirical findings that extend theoretical thinking on PVE/CVE, liberal peace and religious peacebuilding. Laura’s work spans all levels of faith-based violence prevention, from family-level child protection work to community-level initiatives in civil protection, early warning and response, to national and international actions to de-escalate tensions across internal and external borders.

Laura’s field experience includes research in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Turkey and Zanzibar (Tanzania). She currently implements projects funded by the SIDA and Islamic Relief (on evaluation faith-based peacebuilding programming in Kenya, Indonesia, Pakistan and Philippines), World Vision (on faith-based initiatives to prevent family violence) and the EU (on enhancing the state-of-the-art in peacebuilding education).

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Dr Chuck Thiessen, Associate Professor

Dr. Chuck Thiessen, Associate Professor, is an International Relations academic who conducts research on international organizations and international interventions in contexts of armed conflict and violence including Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine, Kyrgyzstan, and Somalia. His research has explored the protection of human rights inside ‘preventing violent extremism’ (PVE) interventions in conflict zones and the dissonance between local conceptions and international prescriptions regarding peace and conflict inside international interventions. Dr. Thiessen has consulted for the UN system in Central Asia and a variety of NGOs in Afghanistan.

Prof. John Cuddihy

Prof. John Cuddihy FRSA, is a Visiting Professor at CTPSR as well as an international consultant operating on behalf of a variety of international agencies in the fields of P/CVE, Counter Terrorism, Organised Crime and Protective Security. John has 30 years’ experience in law enforcement, including as Head of Counter Terrorism for Police Scotland. As a consultant, he has led numerous high-value, international programmes and reviews, including a multinational, multisector programme of P/CVE interventions across 14 African nations. As a Strategic Adviser to the think tanks Globsec and Royal United Services Institute, he has contributed to numerous research papers and workshops on P/CVE. As a Board Member and Strategic Adviser to the national children’s charity Action for Children, he has led on research into the exposure, exploitation and radicalisation of young people. He is currently engaged in the creation and delivery of Security Sector Reform and P/CVE training across Africa on behalf of the International Security Sector Advisory Team. Before leaving law enforcement, John led the review of CONTEST in Scotland, making recommendations to government, particularly around the need to situate 'Prevent' within a wider violence reduction strategy. He has extensive experience and expertise on the impact and implications of terrorism and violent extremism across various geographical regions and regularly lectures on this to international academic, policy and practitioner audiences.

Dr Gareth Harris

Dr. Gareth Harris, Visiting Fellow, is an independent researcher and consultant. His research focuses on the local dynamics of extremist mobilisation with a specific interest in anti-minority and far right groups, and community-based initiatives to counter extremism. He is currently the convenor of the Special Interest Group on Counter-Extremism (SIGCE) a local authority peer-to-peer network led by Leeds and Luton councils, funded by the Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Current research includes research on the dynamics of local anti-minority mobilisation, community responses to extremist narratives, and the development of good practice from peer-to-peer networks and knowledge exchanges. Recent completed projects include: A local case study of an anti-minority campaign around sexual violence, a review of community engagement and counter-narrative practice, a report exploring the responses of educational staff to Prevent Duty, an overview of the current anti-minority landscape in the UK, a Local Authority toolkit on the tools available to local authorities to counter extremism, and an evaluation of European Practitioner Exchange (EPEX) for Violence Prevention Network, Germany. Based on his research, he regularly presents to policy makers, practitioners, elected members, and civil society groups.

Andrew Gunn

Andrew Gunn, a former senior police officer in the UK with 30 years’ experience in strategic and operational roles, now acts as Visiting Fellow at CTPSR and an independent consultant for international policing and security organisations specialising in counter terrorism and organised crime. Andrew’s work takes him across the globe, working on initiatives in the fields of peace, security, violent extremism and counter terrorism. His work is focused on enhancing capability and capacity of countries across Europe, Middle East and North Africa with a focus on the root causes of these issues. In this role as a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Peace, Trust & Social Relations, Andrew supports and enhances a wide range of research projects across the breadth of issues which impact on countering terrorism and violent extremism.

Dr. Stephen Cowden 

Dr. Stephen Cowden has taught in the Social Work department at Coventry University for the last 17 years and is a Research Associate at the Centre for Peace, Trust and Social Relations. He comes to PVE through the lens of his research on Religious Fundamentalism, which developed out of a conference on Social Work and Religious Fundamentalism organised at Coventry University in 2009. Since that he has published on this issue in Social Work and Social Policy journals. In 2016 he was invited to join the editorial group of the Warwick University based journal Feminist Dissent. Set up to address the question of the rise of religious fundamentalism in relation to gender issues specifically, Issue 4, published in April 2019, focuses specifically on the UK’s counter-terrorism policy Prevent, and includes an article by Stephen that addresses PVE from a Social Work and Safeguarding approach. He co-founded the Preventing Violent Extremism Special Interest Group within the British Association of Social Work, which held its inaugural meeting at Coventry University in March 2019.

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