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The Better Evidence Project

The mission of the Better Evidence Project (BEP) is to encourage, facilitate, and conduct research aimed at producing evidence that will guide practitioners and donors in reducing large-scale political violence where it exists or threatens to erupt in the near future

Our Team

D R . K R I S T I N A  H O O K

E X E C U T I V E  D I R E C T O R

Dr. Kristina Hook is the Executive Director of the Better Evidence Project in the Center for Peacemaking Practice at George Mason University’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution. She is an anthropologist and scholar-practitioner specializing in large-scale violence against civilians (including genocides and mass atrocities) as well as emerging forms of warfare and violence. She has research, teaching, and professional experience on topics including genocide causality, post-conflict reconstruction, trauma healing, the costs of conflict, civilian protection policies, and evolving security challenges like hybrid warfare and environmental degradation. Dr. Hook has worked in 23 countries including across Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and the Caribbean. She received a joint PhD in peace studies and anthropology from the University of Notre Dame’s 

Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and Department of Anthropology. She also holds M.A. degrees in anthropology (2017) and in international development (2012) from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies respectively. She holds a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Florida, where she graduated summa cum laude and as a valedictorian. 


A 2018-2019 U.S. Fulbright scholar to Ukraine, Dr. Hook’s current project explores the dynamics and legacy of the Soviet-era Holodomor atrocities, including how these events influenced modern interpretations of Ukraine’s current armed conflict with Russian-backed separatists. Supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF-GRFP) and a USAID Research and Innovation Fellowship, Dr. Hook conducted two-and-a-half years of ethnographic fieldwork in Ukraine from 2015-2019. Trained in qualitative and quantitative methods, she analyzed how influential Ukrainian political actors (e.g., politicians, lawyers, civil society representatives, activists, academics, etc.) interacted and interpreted historical legacies of violence to respond to unfolding national crises. She has served as a non-resident fellow at the Marine Corps University's Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Creativity.


Prior to her time in academia, Kristina Hook served as a policy advisor at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations and as a political/economic officer in an embassy-based diplomatic posting abroad. She received a U.S. Department of State Meritorious Honor Award for her work on preventing and responding to mass atrocities and was a 2013-2015 U.S. Presidential Management Fellow. She also held leadership roles in two international development non-governmental organizations and was recognized in 2017 with the Society for Applied Anthropology’s Human Rights Defender Award.

D R . S U S A N  H . A L L E N

P R I N C I P A L  I N V E S T I G A T O R

Susan H. Allen directs the Center for Peacemaking Practice at George Mason University's Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution. She is a scholar-practitioner of conflict resolution. Her main focus is on reflective practice and research that emerges from practice contexts. She has substantial expertise in intermediary roles and coordination amongst intermediaries, evaluation of conflict resolution initiatives, and theories of change, indicators of change, and evaluation in conflict resolution practice. She has engaged long-term in conflict resolution in the South Caucasus, as well as contributing to a variety of conflict resolution initiatives in Eastern Europe, Eurasia, the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. Susan Allen joined the Carter School core faculty in 2005 after two years teaching International Peace and Conflict Resolution as Assistant Professor at the School of International 

Service at American University. This was a return to the Carter School. Dr. Allen’s Ph.D. (2000) and M.S. (1995) degrees are from the Carter School. Between graduate school and joining the faculty at the Carter School, she co-founded and directed the Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT) and served as Senior Program Associate for the Conflict Resolution Program at the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA.

Susan Allen’s current research centers on learning from decades of practice. Her work has been supported by the US Institute of Peace (Peace Scholar award, Grant program), the One Foundation, USAID, the UK Conflict Pool, the US State Department, and the William and Flora I. Hewlett Foundation, Compton Foundation, Catalyst Fund (with ACT), and US State Dept (with ACT).

Susan Allen serves on the Editorial Committee of the Journal Peacebuilding and on the Editorial Boards of Conflict Resolution Quarterly, the African Peace and Conflict Journal, and Caucasus Edition. She is on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT). She previously served on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, including as Chair of the Board in 2005.

M I L T  L A U E N S T E I N

A D V I S O R Y  B O A R D

Milt Lauenstein (MBA University of Chicago, BS ChE Purdue U) was involved in business management from 1948 until 2001 as an executive and management consultant. He served as a director of a dozen for-profit corporations and half a dozen notfor-profits, having been Chairman or CEO of several of them. He served as a Senior Lecturer on Business Policy at the University of Chicago and as Executive-in-Residence at Northeastern University. Under President Johnson, he was a member of the US Department of Commerce Technical Advisory Board.

He is the author of the book “What’s Your Game Plan?” about business strategy, published by Dow-Jones Irwin. With Dr. Elliot Short, he co-authored the book, “Peace and Conflict since 1991”, being published by Peter Lang. He has written several published articles on peacebuilding and posts frequently on peacebuilding on Linkedin. 

Since 2001, he has been active in peacebuilding. He funded a  successful campaign by local citizens of Guinea-Bissau to prevent a national election campaign from triggering a return to civil war in 2005. Based on that experience, he founded the Purdue Peace Project, which successfully assisted local citizens to prevent violence in several other countries in West Africa. He has funded a number of research projects, reports on which may be found on the website warandpeacebuilding.org. More recently, he co-founded Impact: Peace with the Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. With George Mason University, he is launching the Better Evidence Project.


He served in the Navy from 1943 to 1946, finally being appointed Executive Officer of a small ship, PCE 886. He is married with four children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He attended several art schools in the US and Europe and continues to paint as an avocation. He is a Quaker.

A L P A S L A N  Ö Z E R D E M

C H A I R  O F  T H E A  D V I S O R Y  B O A R D

Alpaslan Özerdem is the Dean of the School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution and professor of peace and conflict studies. Prior to his appointment as Dean in August 2019, Dr Özerdem was Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Coventry University in the UK.


Dr Özerdem specializes in conflict resolution, peacebuilding and postconflict reconstruction. With over 20 year field research experience in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, El Salvador, Kosovo, Lebanon, Liberia, Nigeria, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan and Turkey, Dr Özerdem has undertaken numerous research projects that were funded by the UK’s Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) (faith-based conflict prevention); British Academy (youth and peacebuilding); US Institute of Peace (reintegration of

ex-combatants); and various European Union funding schemes (conflict transformation and leadership).


Dr Özerdem has published extensively (14 books and numerous journal articles, book chapters and op-eds) and amongst other, is author of Post-war Recovery: Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (2008); co-author of Managing Emergencies and Crises (2011); co-editor of Child Soldiers: From Recruitment to Reintegration (2011); co-author of Peace in Turkey 2023: The Question of Human Security and Conflict Transformation (2013); co-editor of Human Security in Turkey(2013); co-author of Youth in Conflict and Peacebuilding: Mobilization, Reintegration and Reconciliation (2015); co-editor of Local Ownership in International Peacebuilding (2015); co-author of Peacebuilding: An Introduction (2015); co-editor of Conflict Transformation and the Palestinians: The Dynamics of Peace and Justice under Occupation (2016); co-editor of Routledge Handbook of Turkish Politics (2019), and co-editor of Comparing Peace Processes (2019).


Dr Özerdem has also taken an active role in the initiation and management of several advisory and applied research projects for a wide range of national and international organizations such as the United Nations and international NGOs. He also runs tailor-made and in-country professional training programs for a wide range of audiences from humanitarian aid practitioners to civil servants and policy makers. Dr Özerdem is a frequent speaker and workshop leader for events organized by the private sector, higher education institutions, international organizations and governmental authorities. He is a member of the Anna Lindh Foundation Scientific Committee, and received his Professor Extraordinary in Politics title by Stellenbosch University in 2017 and visiting professorship to the Jiangsu University and Coventry University in 2019.