79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA, 02138
Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
Faculty, International Security Program
Member of the Board,, Belfefr Center for Science and International Affairs
Dara Kay Cohen is an assistant professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Her research and teaching interests span the field of international relations, including international security, civil war and the dynamics of violence during conflict, and gender and international relations. Her current book project examines the variation in the use of sexual violence during recent civil conflicts; the research for the book draws on fieldwork in Sierra Leone, East Timor, and El Salvador, where she interviewed more than 200 ex-combatants and noncombatants.
Her research has appeared or is forthcoming in the American Political Science Review, World Politics, the Journal of Peace Research, International Security, and Stanford Law Review and has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Peace Research Institute, Oslo, among others. In 2011, Cohen was awarded the American Political Science Association's Award for Best Dissertation in Women and Politics.
Cohen graduated with an A.B. in political science and philosophy with honors from Brown University in 2001 and served as a paralegal in the Outstanding Scholars Program in the Counterterrorism Section of the U.S. Department of Justice from 2001–2003. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University in 2010. Prior to joining the Harvard Kennedy School, she was an assistant professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.
Assistant: Leah Knowles
Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter
By Dara Kay Cohen, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
Dara Kay Cohen is an assistant professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and a core faculty member of the International Security Program at the Belfer Center. Her current research examines variations in the use of sexual violence during recent conflicts and draws from fieldwork in Sierra Leone, East Timor, and El Salvador, where she interviewed more than 200 ex-combatants and noncombatants. Here, she answers questions related to her research on the causes of wartime rape . She recently co-authored a policy report for the United States Institute of Peace titled “Wartime Sexual Violence: Misconceptions, Implications, and Ways Forward.”
Wartime rape is neither ubiquitous nor inevitable. The level of sexual violence differs significantly across countries, conflicts, and particularly armed groups. Some armed groups can and do prohibit sexual violence. Such variation suggests that policy interventions should also be focused on armed groups, and that commanders in effective control of their troops are legally liable for patterns of sexual violence they fail or refuse to prevent.
Journal Article, International Security, issue 2, volume 32
The United States' color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) has failed to motivate relevant actors to take costly protective measures in response to a terrorist alert, particularly after increases in the threat level appeared to be politically manipulated. The HSAS has neither shared relevant information regarding its alerts nor generated enough confidence in the government to convince the public to take necessary actions. An alternative trust-based alert system could succeed where HSAS has failed.