Name: James Hawdon

Department/School/Center: Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, Department of Sociology

Name of award: Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to Finland

Project summary: While in Finland, Hawdon will collaborate with University of Turku faculty on a joint research project “Understanding Online Extremism from a Cross-National Perspective." They will study rhetoric and themes used by Finns and Americans who profess hate and extremism.

The project will involve compiling data on changes in the national economies of Finland and the United States over the past half century to analyze how these changes may have patterned the extremist ideologies and reasons people provide as to why they relate to them. The researchers will also conduct a content analysis of posts and threads that promote hate on online forums and social media sites to document common themes across cultures.

In addition to the research, Hawdon will teach a graduate level course on online hate and extremism. As part of the course, students will redesign a survey Hawdon and his colleagues have used to collect data in several countries since 2013. The survey will be fielded after he returns to Virginia Tech, and the data will be used to develop counter-narratives that will be tested in future work. Hawdon hopes that these will be used to slow the spread of ideologies based on hate and extremism.

Why is this award important to you, Virginia Tech, and CLAHS? "The project extends work I have been working on with colleagues at the University of Turku," Hawdon said. "I have been researching online extremism and radicalization for nearly a decade, and the research and teaching I will do in Finland will allow me to expand that work and take it in a new direction."