On 7 and 8 November 2016, almost 200 researchers, policy makers and front-line professionals attended the 10th edition of the annual Society for Terrorism Research (STR) conference. STR conferences are first and foremost a venue for highlighting and discussing new research and emerging trends in the study of (counter-) terrorism. This year’s event, however, also sought to encourage the exchange of information, experience and contacts between researchers and those working as policy makers or practitioners on counterterrorism-related topics.
To that end, STR 2016 had as its central theme ‘Counter-Terrorism Research & Practice: Addressing Key Societal Challenges’. This ensured that the nearly 60 papers selected for inclusion in the program were not only on the cutting-edge of scholarly efforts to understand (counter)terrorism, but were also of interest to those working to detect, prevent and respond to this form of political violence. Additionally, considerable efforts were directed towards inviting policy makers and practitioners to submit papers themselves and participate in the conference as attendees. Perhaps the most important measure taken was to allow plentiful time for socializing, which meant plentiful coffee, a long lunch and drinks receptions after both conference days.
With almost 60 presentations and 5 keynote speakers in total, STR 2016 presented participants with a busy schedule. To ensure all speakers had the necessary time to present their findings and engage in discussion with the audience, the program was organized so that four panel sessions took place simultaneously. As several participants remarked, the hardest thing at STR this year was choosing where to go!
The conference was opened by Jessica Stern (Boston University), who provided a fantastic overview of what we (do not) know about terrorism. Ghent University’s Rik Coolsaet and Rogelio Alonso from Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid completed day one of the conference with fascinating keynote presentations on the concept of radicalization and the media’s role in reporting on terrorism respectively. Paul Gill (University College London) and Thomas Hegghammer (FFI Norway) closed the conference with fantastic keynotes on lone actor extremism and poverty as a potential cause of involvement in terrorism.
Leiden University’s Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA) was honored to be able to host STR this year. A big thank you to all the participants and keynote speakers for making this a stimulating event! The conference organizers would also like to acknowledge the gracious support of our co-sponsors; the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV), the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and Routledge. Let’s keep fighting terrorism with knowledge!