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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board On Behavioral Cognitive and Sensory Sciences
Board On Behavioral Cognitive and Sensory Sciences
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
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Understanding Narratives for National Security Purposes: A Workshop

Workshop Planning Committee Members

Sara Cobb is a Professor at The School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) at George Mason University, where she was also the Director for 8 years. In this context she teaches and conducts research on the relationship between narrative and violent conflict; she is also the Director of the Center for the Study of Narrative and Conflict Resolution at S-CAR that provides a hub for scholarship on narrative approaches to conflict analysis and resolution. Formerly, she was the Director of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and has held positions at a variety of tier one research institutions such as University of California, Santa Barbara, University of Connecticut, and more recently at the University of Amsterdam. She has also consulted to and/or conducted training for a host of public and private organizations, including UN High Commission on Refugees, UNDP, La Caxia Bank, and Exxon, the American Bar Association, Fox Learning Academy as well as a number of universities in Europe and Latin America. Dr. Cobb is widely published. At present, her book, The Politics of Narrative in Conflict Analysis and Resolution” is under contract at Oxford University Press. She has been a leader in the fields of negotiation and conflict resolution studies, conducting research on the practice of neutrality, as well as the production of “turning points” and “critical moments” in negotiation processes. Some of this research is based on case studies from her field research in Guatemala, Chile, Rwanda and the Netherlands. The blend of academic research, program development, and practice enables Dr. Cobb to develop research projects that can yield practical understanding and generate effective interventions. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Betty Sue Flowers is the former Director of the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum and former Kelleher Professor of English and member of the Distinguished Teachers Academy at University of Texas, Austin and Distinguished Alumnus. She is also a poet, editor, and business consultant, with publications ranging from poetry therapy to the economic myth, including two books of poetry and four television tie-in books in collaboration with Bill Moyers. She has served as a moderator for executive seminars at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, consultant for NASA, Visiting Advisor to the Secretary of the Navy, Public Director of the American Institute of Architects, and editor of Global Scenarios for Shell International in London, the Organization of American States, and the World Business Council in Geneva.  Her most recent publications include (with Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, and Joseph Jaworski): Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future (SoL, 2004; 2nd edition Doubleday); Christina Rossetti: The Complete Poems. (Penguin English Poets Series, London, NY, New Delhi, etc.: Penguin, 2001; 2nd edition 2005); “The Primacy of People in a World of Nations,” The Partnership Principle: New Forms of Governance in the 21st Century, (London 2004)--published in German as “Erst der Mensch—dann der Staat,” Das Prinzip Partnerschaft: Neue Formen von Governance im 21.Jahrhundert (Munchen/Zurich: 2004) and The American Dream and the Economic Myth (monograph in the Fetzer “American Dream” series). Flowers received her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Texas, Austin and Ph.D. from the University of London.

Jeffrey Johnson is a professor of anthropology at the University of Florida. He is also is an adjunct professor in the Institute for Software Research at Carnegie Melon University. He was the director of the Summer Institute for Research Design in Cultural Anthropology from 1996-2015. He was a former program manager with the Army Research Office (IPA) where he started the basic science research program in the social sciences. He has conducted extensive long-term research comparing group dynamics and the evolution of social networks of over-wintering crews at the American South Pole Station, with those at the Polish, Russian, Chinese, and Indian Antarctic Stations. Using these isolated human group settings as space analogs, he is currently studying aspects of team cognition on mission success. He is the author of Selecting Ethnographic Informants (Sage, 1990) and is co-author (with Borgatti and Everett) of the book Analyzing Social Networks (Sage, 2013). He was the founding editor of the Journal of Quantitative Anthropology, and co-editor of the journal Human Organization. He is currently an associate editor for the Journal of Social Structure and the journal Social Networks. He received his Ph.D. in Social Science from the University of California, Irvine.

David Matsumoto is a professor of social psychology at San Francisco State University and the director of the Culture and Emotion Research Lab. The laboratory focuses on studies involving culture, emotion, social interaction and communication. He is well known for his work in the field of microexpressions, facial expression, gesture, and nonverbal behavior. He has served as the Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology and as an Editor of the Culture and Diversity Section for the Social and Personality Psychology Compass. Matsumoto is also an Editorial Board Member for Personality and Social Psychology Review, Asian Journal of Social Psychology, Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, Motivation and Emotion, and Cognition and Emotion. He holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley.

Carmen Medina (Chair) is the founder of MedinAnalytics, LLC, which provides analytic services on national security issues, cognitive diversity, global trends, and intrapreneurship. From 2005-2007 Ms. Medina was part of the executive team that led the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Analysis Directorate. In her last assignment before retiring she oversaw the CIA’s Lessons Learned program and led the Agency’s first effort to address the challenges posed by social networks, digital ubiquity, and the emerging culture of collaboration. She was a leader on diversity issues at the CIA, serving on equity boards at all organizational levels and across Directorates. She was the first CIA executive to conceptualize many information technology applications now used by analysts, including online production, collaborative tools, and Intellipedia. Upon her retirement from CIA, she received the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. From 2011—2015, Ms. Medina was a member of Deloitte Federal Consulting where she served as senior advisor and mentor to Deloitte’s flagship innovation program, GovLab. She is the co-author of Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within (2014). She holds a B.A. degree in Comparative Government from the Catholic University of America.


Doug Randall is Founder & CEO of Protagonist which is a high growth Narrative Analytics company. Protagonist mines beliefs in order to energize brands, win narrative battles, and understand target audiences. Protagonist uses natural language processing, machine learning, and deep human expertise to identify, measure, and shape narratives. The Protagonist platform was built on 10 years of narrative science that was initially developed to improve the American brand around the world for the US Government. Today, it's used by dozens of the world's leading CMOs, business leaders, and foundations. Doug has lectured on a number of topics at the Wharton School, Stanford University, and National Defense University; his articles on future technology trends have appeared in the Financial Times, Wired, and Business 2.0. He was previously a partner at Monitor, founder of Monitor 360 and co-head of the consulting practice at Global Business Network (GBN). Before that, he was a Vice President at Snapfish, a senior consultant at Decision Strategies, Inc., and a senior research fellow at the Wharton School. Doug received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and his M.B.A. from the Wharton School.

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