Sandra Arnold Scham Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Sandra Arnold Scham

Adjunct Associate Professor and Senior Research Advisor
The Catholic University of America

My work is difficult to categorize but I would describe my approach as anthropological since this is the social science with the "big tent." I am an archaeologist but my interest in politics and the Middle East and the meaning of the past in the present permeates most of my publications. I also have a background working in government on international development, civil rights and countering violent extremism. All of this work is interconnected by an interest in marginalized peoples.


Twenty years ago, I was talking to the Director of a research center about the story of my professional life. I told him how I had left a long career with the government, adopted a daughter from China, began working on my archaeology doctorate and, in pursuit of that aim, had come to live in Amman, Jordan. After listening to this recital, he had only one question "but what possessed you to do all of that in one year!" Restlessness, I suppose but, in my case, of a more immediate sort than experienced by other baby boomers. My diverse books and publications reflect that more than anything else. I have gone from civil rights investigator to financial regulator to graduate student ending up with a Ph.D., a part-time academic position and a consultancy in international development and countering violent extremism. Along the way, I have been an editor of two academic journals and the co-founder of one of them.

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    I am an archaeological anthropologist but I also know employment discrimination law and have co-written a book on affirmative action (Inside Affirmative Action--also a Routledge Publication). I am considered a specialist on countering violent extremism programs in international development.

Personal Interests

    Besides sitting in front of my computer writing and editing all of the time? Well, first of all, my daughters, Anat and Petra (both of whom I think still need me). I used to paint but never liked anything I produced although most of it is hanging on the walls of my house in the vain hope that someone else might.  I'm a cat lady but am very outclassed in this department by my daughter who lives with us.  Oh yes--I am addicted to overusing commas, reading mysteries and watching costume dramas and archaeology programs. Go Time Team!


Featured Title
 Featured Title - Connectivity in Antiquity - 1st Edition book cover


Middle East Institute Features "Extremism, Ancient and Modern" in panel discussion

By: Sandra Arnold Scham
Subjects: Anthropology - Soc Sci

The Middle East Institute in Washington, DC featured Extramism, Ancent and Moder in a panel discussion on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. The video for this event can be viewed at the link listed below.


Middle Eastern history is often portrayed as a succession of empires and political orders harassed and occasionally brought down by violent opponents--usually labeled as terrorists at the time. This was true in ancient times as well as modern. And today’s violent extremist groups resurrect historical narratives and grievances to fuel contemporary conflict.

How do 21st century socio-political and geopolitical trends interact with historical ethnic, sectarian, and anti-colonial narratives to fuel the rise of extremist movements? How can we understand these dynamics? How can this understanding contribute to better policy to counter violent extremism?

The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host a panel discussion on the ancient and modern dynamics of extremist transnational movements featuring Sandra Scham, author of Extremism, Ancient and Modern: Insurgency, Terror, and Empire in the Middle East. She will be joined by MEI’s senior vice president for policy research and programs, Paul Salem (author of “The Rise of Transnational Violent Movements in the Middle East”), and MEI Scholar Hassan Mneimneh. MEI’s director of the extremism and counterterrorism program, Charles Lister, will moderate the discussion.