Professor Ben O'Loughlin - Co-Director
Ben O’Loughlin is Professor of International Relations and Co-Director of the New Political Communication Unit at Royal Holloway, University of London. He was Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords Committee on Soft Power and the UK's Influence. He is co-editor of the Sage journal Media, War and Conflict. In December 2013 Routledge in New York released the monograph: Strategic Narratives: Communication Power and the New World Order. This is followed by an edited volume, Forging the World: Strategic Narratives and International Relations, to published by University of Michigan Press in 2016 and drawing together leading experts in communication and IR. His previous books include Radicalisation and Media: Terrorism and Connectivity in the New Media Ecology (2011) and War and Media: The Emergence of Diffused War (2010). He has carried out projects on media and security for the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure. He has contributed to the New York Times, Guardian, openDemocracy, Sky News and Newsweek. Ben has recently completed a study of global responses to the 2012 London Olympics with the BBC, and is now beginning several EU-funded projects examining strategic narratives and public opinion in Ukraine and Israel-Palestine.
Dr Cristian Vaccari - Co-Director
Cristian Vaccari joined Royal Holloway in September 2013. He has researched and published extensively in the area of online political communication. His book, Digital Politics in Western Democracies: A Comparative Study, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in November 2013 and offers the first large-scale and cross-national comparative study of digital politics among parties, candidates, and citizens across seven Western democracies, including the USA, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Cristian is the Principal Investigator of a three-year, 900,000 Euros research project entitled, Building Inclusive Societies and a Global Europe Online: Political Information and Participation in Social Media in Comparative Perspective funded by the Italian Ministry of Education. The research investigates the role of social media in citizens' and politicians' practices in Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom, from 2013 to 2016. Cristian retains a position with the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Bologna, where he teaches Political Communication as a Lecturer. He has previously taught at New York University Florence and was a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford, Columbia University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and American University.
Dr Akil N. Awan
Akil N. Awan is Senior Lecturer in Modern History, Political Violence and Terrorism at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is based in the Department of History. His research interests are focused around the history of terrorism, radicalization, social movements, protest, and new media. He has written widely in these areas, both academically and in the popular press. Dr Awan is also regularly consulted by government bodies, think-tanks, media and other organizations in his fields of expertise, and has served in an advisory capacity to the UK Home Office, the Foreign Office, the US State department, the US Military, Council of Europe, and the OSCE amongst others. Most recently, he served as special advisor on Radicalization to the UK Parliament; as academic expert on Genocide to the UK House of Lords delegation to Srebrenica; and as expert advisor on Youth Radicalisation to the United Nations. He is Founder and Chair of the UK Political Studies Association’s Specialist Group on Political Violence & Terrorism. His books include Radicalisation and Media: Terrorism and Connectivity in the New Media Ecology (Routledge, 2011), and Jihadism Transformed: al-Qaeda and Islamic State’s Global Battle of Ideas (Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2016).
Dr James Sloam
James Sloam is Reader in Politics and International Relations. His research interests are: political parties, the role of new media in young people's democratic engagement, German politics, European social democracy. He is the coordinator of the Youth Politics Unit at Royal Holloway.
Dr Joanna Szostek
Dr Joanna Szostek joined Royal Holloway in September 2015 as a postdoctoral research fellow. She received her DPhil in Politics from the University of Oxford in 2013. She was previously based at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, where she completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Her most recent research explores the association between habits of news consumption and geopolitical imaginations among university students in Moscow. Her doctoral research identified factors which shape reporting of Russia in Ukraine and Belarus. Findings have so far been published in Communist and Post-Communist Studies and East European Politics & Societies. At Royal Holloway she is working on a new project, Stratnarra, which aims to explain the reception of strategic geopolitical narratives in Ukraine. Joanna will collect data on media use and perceptions of the West among different groups of Ukrainians in order to shed light on how rival governments manage (or fail) to exert influence via mass communication in contemporary international relations. The project is overseen by Professor Ben O’Loughlin and is funded by a three-year Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship from the European Commission. Joanna has spent around six years living in Moscow and has travelled widely across Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus. Amongst other things, she has worked for the BBC as a senior monitoring journalist and interned at the European Commission's Delegation to Russia.
Dr Jinghan Zeng
Jinghan Zeng is Lecturer in International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is also an Associate Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation at the University of Warwick and a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy. He holds degrees from the University of Warwick (PhD, May 2012- April 2014) and the University of Pittsburgh (MA, 2009-2011). His research and teaching interests lie in the field of Chinese politics and research methodology, with more specific interests in the study of China's authoritarian system, elite politics of contemporary China, and Chinese foreign policy. Jinghan is the author of The Chinese Communist Party's Capacity to Rule: Ideology, Legitimacy and Party Cohesion (Palgrave, 2015). His academic papers have appeared in International Affairs, Contemporary Politics, Journal of Contemporary China, and Journal of Chinese Political Science. Before his academic career, he worked for the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs in New York City.