A multidisciplinary center headquartered at the University of Maryland recently received a major federal grant to expand its research on the human causes and consequences of terrorism. The science and technology directorate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded $3.6 million to the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). The funding supports new research on social, behavioral and cultural factors that influence terrorist behavior, violent extremism and counterterrorism efforts in the United States and abroad.
Since its 2005 launch, START has received almost $58 million in DHS funding. “They’ve been a proactive and productive center of excellence that has served the Department of Homeland Security well,” says Matthew Clark, director of the agency’s office of university programs.
With its mission to shape research and education through the lens of public service, the science and scholarship at START parallels the university’s role as a modern land-grant institution, says Gary LaFree, professor of criminology and the director of START.
“START provides an integrated system, whereby research findings are directly incorporated into policy recommendations,” LaFree says. “In turn, the public and policy needs drive research explorations and career training for students and practitioners.”
START’s new projects include examining the emergence and operations of domestic terrorists, as well as collecting and coding terrorist data for behavioral models that can be used in the homeland security decision-making process.
“We are quite proud of the work being done at START, the largest center anywhere dedicated to the social and behavioral study of terrorism,” says Patrick O’Shea, the university’s vice president for research and chief research officer. “START’s work is making a real difference in how we understand, and react to, this worldwide threat.”