The VIPCAT Research Laboratory was established in June of 2007 by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to facilitate inquiry into the causes and consequences of violent political conflict and terrorism. The lab was moved and re-established at the College of William & Mary in August 2008. Specifically, the laboratory focuses on collecting and analyzing data on the strategic behavior of state and non-state actors. Moreover, the laboratory examines the consequences of such behavioral interactions such as population displacement and the spread of disease.
VIPCAT accomplishes this mission by:
- Engaging and informing policymakers, industry representatives, educators, and the public, both here in the United States and abroad, about the causes and consequences of political violence and terrorism. The lab executes this outreach function by publishing academic and policy research such as books, reports and journal articles. To reach a wider audience of non-specialists and keep the public informed of our progress, the lab posts research briefs summarizing findings from its ongoing projects and current studies.
- Facilitating dialogue among quantitative and qualitative scholars. While the lab engages in data analysis and econometric forecasting of events, the lab consults with highly regarded qualitative scholars and practitioners in regard to the information it seeks to collect and analyze. It also brings together scholars from different backgrounds through working research groups and the annual Summer Workshop On Teaching about Terrorism (SWOTT).
- Establishing training programs for academics and government officials and others in “best practices” for teaching and researching political violence and terrorism through its annual SWOTT.
- Creating links between the policy community and the academic community. The lab seeks to provide sound empirical evidence to inform and dictate policy prescriptions. The lab also analyzes the effectiveness of government counter-measures and counter-terrorism policies to evaluate how well certain policies and tactics perform given their intended consequences.
- Preparing undergraduate and graduate students for careers in international and homeland security.
Funding for its current and previous projects comes from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), and the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism Center, a DHS Center of Excellence, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.