Peace and conflict Studies

Faculty Research

Current faculty, books, articles, and research include:

Bassam Romaya, Ph.D., is author of the book, "The Iraq War: A Philosophical Analysis" (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). In this work, Romaya undermines conventional philosophical analyses of war, particularly arguments dealing with the Iraq war itself, in an effort to develop an alternative account to the philosophical analysis of postmodern warfare more broadly, one informed by pacifist traditions. Romaya is currently working on a sequel to this book, one which examines alternative forms of nonviolent resistance in the Iraq war case, such as resistance literature by Iraqi authors. His other recent publications include: Bassam Romaya and Lisa Portmess, “Confronting Cyber Warfare: Rethinking the Ethics of Cyber War,” in The Journal for Peace and Justice Studies vol. 23, no.1 (2013), also with Lisa Portmess, “Digital Peacekeepers, Drone Surveillance and Information Fusion: A Philosophical Analysis of New Peacekeeping,” in Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory vol. 62, issue 145 (2015). Romaya is working on a paper entitled “Queer Pacifism: Violence, Nonviolence, and The Paradox of Resistance,” which examines pre-stonewall nonviolent GLBTQ resistance movements and emphasizes their significance and pertinent role in paving the way for the stonewall riots. Professor Romaya also created and regularly teaches a course entitled “Philosophy of Peace and Nonviolence,” as well as a wide range of other courses in world philosophy, world religions, race and ethnicity, literature, ethics, GLBTQ studies, and Middle East studies. 

Deina Abdelkader, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Political Science department and a Visiting Scholar at Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program, Harvard University. She is a Comparitivist and International Relations specialist. Her scholarly interests and research, focus on the Middle East and North Africa, Comparative Democratization in the Muslim World, Islamic Activism, and the Role of Muslim Women in Religious Interpretation.

She is the author of Social Justice in Islam (2000) and Islamic Activists: The Anti-Enlightenment Democrats (Pluto Press, 2011). She has also authored a number of articles; her latest are: Coercion, Peace and the Issue of Jihad in the Digest of Middle East Studies, and a book chapter titled: "Modernity, Islam and Religious Activism", in The New Global Order and the Middle East.

Abdelkader is also one of two women on the Islamic Jurisprudential Council of North America (Fiqh Council of North America) and she is also part of the editorial board of the Digest of Middle East Studies.

She is a founding member and co-director of the International Relations-Islamic Studies research cohort: (COIRIS).

George Chigas, Ph.D., conducts research dealing with the survivors of state-sponsored violence with a focus on Cambodia and genocide in general. His current research deals with second generation Cambodian survivors and examines the potential for service learning opportunities in Cambodia and the US to provide a cultural context for personal growth and healing in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge period.

Mitra Das, Ph.D., recently finished a book, "Between Two Cultures," that documents the resettlement issues experienced by Cambodian women who came to this country as refugees. She is working on a new project that examines the effects of development on women in the Indian subcontinent. Das hopes to extend her study to the experiences of other immigrants who have migrated from her native India.

"Cambodian Community in Lowell, Massachusetts, in Asian Americans, An Encyclopedia of Social, Cultural, Economic and Political History," (Xiaojian Zhao & Edward J. W. Park, editors) Volume One, Greenwood, 2014 

Recent Publication: Mitra Das, Nicole Dubus and Linda Silka, "Decades after Resettlement: Later Life Experiences of Aging Cambodian Refugees," Humanity & Society, Volume 37, Number 4, November 2013.

Urmitapa Dutta, Ph.D., conducts research dealing with ethnic conflict and peace building in Northeast India. Specifically, she interrogates the culture of normalized everyday violence in the Garo Hills of Northeast India, examining how it shapes the identities of local youth. Drawing upon these understandings, she explores innovative everyday peace building possibilities in the region. Her current research also deals with the diverse forms of violence experienced by Garo women caught at the intersections of patriarchy, ethnic conflict, and armed insurgency, as these play out in a matrilineal society. At UMass Lowell, she has designed and teaches a course entitled 'Everyday Peace,' which engages students to develop more contextualized and community-based approaches to peace. 

James Forest, Ph.D., is completing a new book "Essentials of Counterterrorism" (to be published by Praeger later this year), and a revised edition of his textbook "The Terrorism Lectures" will be released by Nortia Press in summer 2015. His 2014 reports "U.S. Military Deployments to Africa" and "Countering the al-Shabaab Insurgency in Somalia" are both available at the JSOU publications website ( Professor Forest also serves as co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal "Perspectives on Terrorism" ( ), which has over 120,000 readers worldwide.

James Nehring’s research addresses the relationship between education and social justice. He is the author of five books and many articles. His most recent scholarly book is "The Practice of School Reform: Lessons from Two Centuries" (SUNY Press, 2009). He is the recipient of a Fulbright award for research in Northern Ireland and a Brown University Alumni award. His current research focuses on schools serving high poverty communities in Northern Ireland and the United States. He is also the author of a memoir, Why Teach? Notes and Questions from a Life in Education (forthcoming from Rowman and Littlefield).

Paula Rayman, Ph.D.,  did her Sabbatical research in fall 2014 as visiting scholar at Queen's University Belfast and University of Haifa, Israel. The research project: "Building Positive Peace and Gender Equity" utilized the Positive Peace Index developed by the Institute for Economics and Peace in relationship to issues of gender justice. As part of this research a graduate student group is doing related case studies examining how building towards positive peace necessarily rests on implementing gender equity concerns. As a result of this research in the spring of 2015, Dr. Rayman was appointed as Gender Consultant at the United States Institute of Peace by the Middle East and North Africa Center. Her research for USIP will document the development of United Nations Resolution 1325 and subsequent National Action Plans in the MENA region. A Special Report will be published by USIP by the end of 2015. Her prior research was completed as part of a Senior Fulbright award: "Beyond Coexistence: Israeli Arab and Jewish Relations.” The research contributed to our knowledge and understanding of the complex situation in Israel today regarding Israeli Arab-Jewish relations.

Professor Rayman has represented the University of Massachusetts at the Woodrow Wilson Center's Project on Women in Public Service. This scholarly endeavor focuses on advancing women's leadership in public service with the goal of 50% representation of women by 2050. 

Professor Rayman has continued her research on advancing women in STEM fields in a number of ways. First, she is a participant in UMass Lowell research team for the NSF PAID Grant which addresses issues of micro-inequities in the sciences, engineering and technology fields. During the fall of 2014, she began collaboration with Professor Yvonne Galligan at Queen's University on a joint research project of understanding how changing institutional structures can have a positive effect on encouraging women in STEM.

David Turcotte, Sc.D., focuses his research on community level conflicts, particularly related to housing development, land use and sustainability. His current research deals with land use and development conflicts and proactive strategies to promote more harmonious and sustainable decision-making and development practices at the local level.

Jenifer Whitten-Woodring, Ph.D., conducts research on the causes and effects of media freedom and the role of media in repression and dissent. Her articles have been published in The Journal of Conflict Resolution, International Studies Quarterly, and Political Communication. Her book Historical Guide to World Media Freedom: A Country-by-Country Analysis (with Douglas Van Belle;CQ Press, 2014) includes chapters on the historical evolution of the concept of media freedom, defining and measuring media freedom, the correlates of media freedom and analyses of the evolution (and devolution) of media freedom in 196 countries from 1948 to the present. Her teaching focuses on intersections of media and politics and repression and dissent. She also teaches quantitative research methods. Courses developed at UMass Lowell include: Media and Politics Around the World, the Politics of Repression and Dissent, Political Communication, Political Analysis, and Advanced Research Methods. Prior to becoming a political scientist, Whitten-Woodring worked as a journalist in print and broadcast media and received five first place awards from the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association. She became particularly interested in media freedom and the relationship between media and politics when she was a journalism instructor and student newspaper adviser, first at Cedar Crest College in Allentown PA, and then at California State University at San Marcos.