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Kerry Persen

Kerry Persen

Ph.D. Candidate


Kerry Ann Carter Persen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University. Her research focuses on the impact of violent extremism on political behavior in the Islamic World.

In her dissertation, she develops a theory of the microfoundations of moderate mobilization against extremist groups using the case of Islamist extremism in Indonesia. Employing fieldwork, survey data, and observational data, she shows that moderates and extremists face asymmetric costs in the decision to voice their private preferences publicly. This asymmetry results in a failure of moderates to act collectively in line with their individual beliefs, a coordination dilemma called the “Moderates Dilemma.”

Kerry is a Minerva-USIP Peace and Security Dissertation Write-Up Scholar at the United States Institute of Peace, a Carnegie Predoctoral Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, and a Global Religion Doctoral Dissertation Fellow at the Global Religion Research Initiative at the University of Notre Dame during the 2017-2018 academic year. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Horowitz Foundation, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), and the Vice Provost for Graduate Education at Stanford University, among others.

At Stanford, Kerry has been a teaching assistant for International Security in a Changing World, War and Peace in American Foreign Policy, and Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. She was also the sole instructor for an introductory international relations course for high school students at University College London in the summer of 2015.

Prior to graduate school, Kerry spent a year in Indonesia on a Fulbright and worked at the U.S-Indonesia Society in Washington, D.C. She graduated summa cum laude from Bowdoin College with a double major in Government and Economics.