WFU professor travels to Israel to study threat of terrorism to democracy
April 27, 2007
Randall Rogan, professor and chair of communication at Wake Forest University, has been accepted to attend “Defending Democracy, Defeating Terrorism,” the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) fifth annual academic fellowship in Israel this summer.
The program, taught in conjunction with Tel Aviv University, provides an intensive series of lectures provided by academics, diplomats and military officials from India, Israel, Jordan, Turkey and the United States on the latest trends in terrorists’ ideologies, motives and operations. The attendees will also participate in field studies designed to give them first-hand experience with security issues and the practical side of deterring terrorist attacks.
Among his courses at Wake Forest, Rogan teaches communication and conflict with a specific course in communication and terrorism. His research expertise is in terrorist and hostage crisis negotiations, specifically related to communication dynamics in crisis negotiations and author identification and threat assessment.
He has worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and their Critical Incident Response Group in the Crisis Management Unit. Locally, he has been a member of the
Behavioral Health Division of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Special Operations Response Team. He was also a member of the team of analysts that helped identify the Unabomber.
Rogan sees the fellowship as an opportunity to significantly enhance both his teaching and research. “It’s one thing to be in the U.S. and talk about what’s going on in the world, but to be able to teach students from an experiential viewpoint, that’s important,” said Rogan. “I want to be able to talk to students about what is reality versus what they think they know from what they watch on TV.”
Rogan believes that even after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 Americans still generally consider the United States invulnerable and invincible. “Concern has waned because we haven’t had any major events like 9/11, but I believe we need to help students understand we’re not exempt, and we need to prepare.”
According to Rogan, one step in preparation is learning to properly interpret communication. “Because of the Internet and the speed of technology and information sharing, people today know a great deal of information, but they do not possess adequate interpretation skills—they just do not spend sufficient time processing information. As a result, we are too rash and hasty in responding to events like the Virginia Tech tragedy or 9/11, or we are simply desensitized.”
Rogan hopes this experience will also help him learn more about how Israel and other countries manage terrorism and counterterrorism when it affects democratic rights. “Terrorism is not going to go away. It is our new conflict,” Rogan said.
FDD is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank based in Washington, D.C. that seeks to educate Americans about the terrorist threat to democracies worldwide.