Women on Mass Destruction

Public Policy Lecture Series Spring 2016

The Reed College Public Policy Lecture Series continues its annual tradition of bringing compelling speakers to campus to address important issues of politics, policy, and political change.


Continuing with our fall theme, this season’s Reed College Public Policy Lecture Series brings three eminent policy scholar-practitioners to campus to help us understand the complex challenges and strategic dimensions of counter-terrorism, nuclear weapons, civilian protection, and war law. Interested in the title? See Women on Mass Destruction: More than a Pun for more information.

All events are free and open to the public.



Jenna Jordan
“Does Leadership Targeting Work?”

Tuesday, March 8
7 p.m., Vollum lecture hall

Jenna Jordan photo

Leadership targeting has become a key feature of current counterterrorism policies. However, leadership decapitation is not always successful. In order to explain when groups are susceptible to leadership decapitation and when it can have counterproductive consequences, this talk will evaluate data on terrorist groups from 1970 to the present. A theoretical model to evaluate the efficacy of targeting as a counterterrorism strategy will be applied to the case of Al Qaeda and ISIS in order to assess past and future attempts at organizational destabilization.

Jenna Jordan is an assistant professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago, M.A. in political science from Stanford University, and B.A. in international relations from Mills College. She previously held a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago. Her current book manuscript focuses on the leadership decapitation of terrorist organizations. Using an original database of over 800 instances of leadership attacks, case studies, and a social network analysis of al-Qaeda, the book evaluates the efficacy of leadership  targeting as a counterterrorism strategy. Her work has been published in International Security, Security Studies, Conflict Management and Peace Science, the New York Times, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, and the CTC Sentinel. She is on the editorial board of the Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict. Her research has been supported by grants from the University of Chicago, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York,  and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Sponsored by the Elizabeth C. Ducey Political Science Lecture Fund. 



Lynn Eden
"End of the World"

Thursday, March 31
7 p.m., Vollum lecture hall

Lynn Eden photo

How do well-balanced U.S. military officers collectively explain to themselves what it means to draw up large-scale “real” plans to execute nuclear war? What are the organizational processes that enable them to work at the edge of hypothetical death? How do officers understand their mission and how do they focus their attention? What can and cannot be said? 

Lynn Eden is a Senior Research Scholar (Emerita) at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). Eden received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan, held several pre- and post-doctoral fellowships, and taught in the department of history at Carnegie Mellon. In the area of international security, Eden focuses on U.S. foreign policy and nuclear history; science & technology studies; and organizations, including routines, learning from history, humor, and story-telling. She co-edited, with Steven E. Miller, Nuclear Arguments: Understanding the Strategic Nuclear Arms and Arms Control Debates. She was an editor of The Oxford Companion to American Military History, which takes a social and cultural perspective on war and peace in U.S. history. That volume was chosen as a Main Selection of the History Book Club. Eden’s book Whole World on Fire: Organizations, Knowledge, and Nuclear Weapons Devastation won the American Sociological Association’s 2004 Robert K. Merton Award for best book in science, knowledge, and technology. 

Sponsored by the Elizabeth C. Ducey Political Science Lecture Fund.



Charli Carpenter
“Gender, Civilian Protection, and the Paradox of War Law”

Thursday, April 14
7 p.m., Vollum lecture hall

Charli Carpenter photo

Politicians generally talk about sending soldiers into war to protect civilian populations, but the truth is that armed conflict puts civilians – men, women and children – at great risk of harm. University of Massachusetts, political science professor, Charli Carpenter, will discuss the profoundly gendered ways we think about and implement the protection of civilians in armed conflict, in terms of who gets protected and from what, how the norms and structure of international law fails to protect civilians today, and ways that might be changed. Carpenter has published extensively on gender, children’s rights and humanitarian action and a recipient of numerous awards from the National Science Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. She is the author of several books including Innocent Women and Children.

Sponsored by the Division of History and Social Sciences.