Jen Ziemke, (Ph.D., Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison), is Co-Founder & Co-Director of the International Network of Crisis Mappers, Co-Curator of the International Conference on Crisis Mapping (ICCM) series & Assistant Professor of International Relations at John Carroll University (JCU). She is also a Crisis Mapping and Early Warning Fellow at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI).
Jen Ziemke serves as Co-Founder & Co-Director of the International Network of Crisis Mappers, the world’s largest and most active international community of experts, practitioners, policymakers, technologists, researchers, journalists, scholars, hackers and skilled volunteers engaged at the intersection between humanitarian crises, technology and rapid mapping. Reuters AlertNet named Crisis Mapping one of its Top 20 Big Ideas in 2011. Together with Patrick Meier, Jen helps catalyze innovation by bringing people together at the annual international conference event, held in Nairobi (2013), the World Bank (2012), Geneva (2011), Harvard (2010), and Cleveland (2009).
Jen has been mapping conflicts since 2005, applying spatial and temporal analysis, dynamic visualization, and in-depth historical and archival research to try to understand underlying conflict processes, or, how one event in a war might be linked to the next. She is very interested in endogenous, complex loops, and what can be learned from the vast amount of event data we are collecting about these wars.
Jen carried out a comprehensive data-driven study of the Angolan civil war. For this project, she coded and geo-referenced some 10,000 conflict events spanning all 41 years of this war using hundreds of sources and a detailed exhumation of Portuguese-language newspaper archives. In the end, she is still not sure whether reasonable inferences can be made from all of this event data, but is happy to be on the journey, seeing it as an adventure and an experiment. As it pertains to the kinds of inferences we can glean from conflict data, big data, and crisis data, we should be careful, and not overly wedded to the idea that all of this work will lead to an analysis that is interesting, useful, or true. We need to be scientists.
Jen has a deep and almost unexplainable interest in conflicts, patterns, and whether the analysis of these kinds of data can tell us something (however small) about conflict. She hopes so, but right now wonders if the analysis and inferences we are making from all of this data we are collecting make sense. We need to better connect the analysis back to the narrative and the original story, event, and local understanding in such a way to make sure that any analysis would resonate with those who witnessed or participated in the event.
In January 2010, as part of the Ushahidi-Haiti team of volunteers, Jen helped process hundreds of urgent SMS messages coming directly from Haitian survivors after the earthquake. She has been involved in dozens of other real-time crisis mapping projects for disaster support, for example helping to track real-time news in Libya as a part of the Standby Task Force’s media monitoring and analysis team, operating at the behest of UN-OCHA.
Jen has taught Crisis Mapping, New Media and Politics (the first such course of its kind) as well as courses on conflict processes, African politics, international security, and international relations. She enjoys creating unique courses, such as: Uganda in Comparative African Perspective, where after a semester of intensive reading and study about the politics of Uganda, students have the opportunity to reflect on how what they read and learned in class interacts with or influences their experience on the ground, and vice-versa. She is especially excited, humbled and honored to teach a new course this term specifically designed for our student veterans reflecting upon their experience on the ground. Entitled International Conflict & Security the course is open to veterans and honors students at JCU.
Jen received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Political Science) and undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Here’s a link to the full version of my 2008 dissertation, From Battles to Massacres, for free. Don’t buy it from random spam websites, with fake authors, for hundreds of dollars. The web is such a weird place.
A more updated and distilled version of the dissertation, “Turn and Burn: Loss Dynamics & Civilian Targeting in the Angolan War,” is available through the Journal of Economics & Politics 20(1). Akron, OH: December 2012. The definitive version is available at http://www.oaeps.org/. This article received the Young Scholar Award for publications in 2012.
Jen served as a Peace Corps volunteer on the Namibian side of the Angolan border from 1997-1999 and has hitchhiked 20,000 miles in over a dozen African countries.
Jen most enjoys blue-sky brainstorming & innovative ideation for complex problems. Feel free to contact me to puzzle together…