Michael Kenney

Associate Professor

3935 Posvar Hall


Curriculum vitae


  • PhD, Political Science , University of Florida, 2002
  • MA, Latin American Studies, University of Florida, 1996
  • BA, Political Science and Philosophy, University of Massachusetts, 1990


Michael Kenney is associate professor and program director of international affairs at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of From Pablo to Osama: Trafficking and Terrorist Networks, Government Bureaucracies, and Competitive Adaptation and the co-editor of Organizational Learning in the Global Context. Dr. Kenney has published numerous academic journal articles on terrorism, Islamist militancy, and transnational organized crime in Survival, Orbis, Terrorism and Political Violence, Global Crime, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, and the Journal of Conflict Resolution, among other publications. He also serves on the editorial board of Terrorism and Political Violence, a leading journal in the field. Dr. Kenney recently completed a book manuscript based on over five years of ethnographic field work on al-Muhajiroun, an outlawed Salafi-jihadi activist network based in the United Kingdom. He has also conducted field research in Brazil, Colombia, Israel, Morocco, and Spain and held research fellowships at Stanford University and the University of Southern California. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the National Institute of Justice, among other institutions.  He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Florida.  Prior to earning his doctorate, he was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador, South America, and an Americorps Volunteer in Orlando, Florida. 

Teaching and Research Areas

Terrorism and counter-terrorism, Islamist militancy, social network analysis, drug control policy, international relations, organization theory, qualitative research methods

Select Publications and Funded Research

  • "The Islamic State in Britain. In The Islamic State in Britain: Radicalization and Resilience in an Activist Network" (Structural Analysis in the Social Sciences, p. I). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (2018)
  • “A Community of True Believers: Learning as Process among ‘the Emigrants’ Terrorism and Political Violence (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09546553.2017.1346506 
  • “Structure and Performance in a Violent Extremist Network: The Small World Solution,” (co-authored with Stephen Coulthart and Dominick Wright) Journal of Conflict Resolution (March 15, 2016), https://doi.org/10.1177/0022002716631104
  • “Cyber-Terrorism in a Post-Stuxnet World,” Orbis: A Journal of World Affairs 59, no. 1 (Winter 2015), pp. 111-128, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0030438714000787
  • “The Methodological Challenges of Extracting Dark Networks: Minimizing False Positives through Ethnography,” chapter co-written with Stephen Coulthart in Illuminating Dark Networks: The Study of Clandestine Groups and Organizations, edited by Luke M. Gerdes (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015): 52-70.
  • “Organisational Adaptation in an Activist Network: Social Networks, Leadership, and Change in al-Muhajiroun,” (co-authored with John Horgan, Cale Horne, Peter Vining, Kathleen M. Carley, Michael W. Bigrigg, Mia Bloom, and Kurt Braddock), Applied Ergonomics 44, no. 5 (September 2013): pp. 739-747.
  • “Learning from the ‘Dark Side’: Identifying, Accessing, and Interviewing Illicit Non-State Actors,” in Conducting Terrorism Field Research: A Guide, edited by Adam Dolnik (London: Routledge, 2013), pp. 26-45.
  • “Hotbed of Radicalization or Something Else?: An Ethnographic Exploration of a Muslim Neighborhood in Ceuta,” Terrorism and Political Violence 23, no. 4 (Fall 2011): 537-559.
  • “‘Dumb’ yet Deadly: Local Knowledge and Poor Tradecraft among Islamist Militants in Britain and Spain,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 33, no. 10 (October 2010): 911-932.
  • “Beyond the Internet: MÄ“tis, Techne, and the Limitations of Online Artifacts for Islamist Terrorists,” Terrorism and Political Violence 22, no. 2 (April 2010): 177-197.
  • “The Architecture of Drug Trafficking: Network Forms of Organisation in the Colombian Cocaine Trade.”  Global Crime 8, no. 3 (August 2007): 233-259.
  • From Pablo to Osama: Trafficking and Terrorist Networks, Government Bureaucracies, and Competitive Adaptation (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007).
  • Idaho National Laboratory/Battelle Memorial Inc., “Cyber Threat Actors Research,” co-PI (with Phil Williams) on $24,939 contract, October 1, 2016-September 30, 2017.
  • Office of Naval Research, “Competitive Adaptation in Terrorist Networks,” 2009-2012, co-PI (with John Horgan) on $3.1 million dollar research grant dealing with terrorism and homeland security issues, Office of Naval Research (ONR), U.S. Department of the Navy, No. N00014-09-1-0667.   


  • Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism (PIA 2327)

  • The War on Drugs (PIA 2429)

  • Capstone Seminar on Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism (PIA 2096-18)

  • Qualitative Research Design and Field Methods (PIA 3505) 

Other Faculty and Academic Administration Positions

  • Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, Pennsylvania State University, Capital College, School of Public Affairs, July 2009-June 2011.
  • Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, Pennsylvania State University, Capital College, School of Public Affairs, August 2003-June 2009.
  • Homeland Security Post-Doctoral Scholar, Stanford Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, September 2004-December 2004.
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Center for International Studies, University of Southern California, 2002-2003.
  • Hamburg (Predoctoral) Fellow, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University, 2000-2001.

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
3601 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260