Scott Atran received his B.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University (and an M.A. in social relations from Johns Hopkins). He is tenured as Research Director in Anthropology at France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Institut Jean Nicod − Ecole Normale Supérieure, in Paris. He is a founding fellow of the Centre for Resolution of Intractable Conflict, Harris Manchester College, and Department of Politics and International Relations and School of Social Anthropology, University of Oxford. Scott also holds positions as Research Professor of Public Policy and Psychology, University of Michigan; and he is Director of Research, ARTIS Research.
Previously, Scott was assistant to Dr. Margaret Mead at the American Museum of Natural History; Coordinator “Animal and Human Communication Program,” Royaumont Center for a Science of Man, Paris (Jacques Monod, Dir.); member of the Conseil Scientifique, Laboratoire d’Ethnobiologie-Biogéographie, Museum National D’Historie Naturelle, Paris; Visiting Lecturer, Dept. Social Anthropology, Cambridge Univ.; Chargé de Conférence, Collège International de Philosophie; member of the Centre de Recherche en Epistémologie Appliquée, Ecole Polytechnique, Paris; Visiting Prof., Truman Institute, Hebrew Univ., Jerusalem; Leverhulme Distinguished Visiting Prof. of Anthropology, Univ. of London-Goldsmiths.; Presidential Scholar, John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Scott has experimented extensively on the ways scientists and ordinary people categorize and reason about nature, on the cognitive and evolutionary psychology of religion, and on the limits of rational choice in political and cultural conflict. He has repeatedly briefed NATO, HMG and members of the U.S. Congress and the National Security Council staff at the White House on the Devoted Actor versus the Rational Actor in Managing World Conflict, on the Comparative Anatomy and Evolution of Global Network Terrorism, and on Pathways to and from Violent Extremism. He has addressed the United Nations Security Council on problems of youth and violent extremism and currently serves in advisory capacity to the Security Council and Secretary General on combatting terrorism and on ways to implement UN Resolution 2250 to engage and empower youth in the promotion of peace. He has been engaged in conflict negotiations in the Middle East, and in the establishment of indigenously managed forest reserves for Native American peoples.
Scott is a recurrent contributor to The New York Times, The Guardian and Foreign Policy, as well as to professional journals such as Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Behavioral and Brain Sciences. His publications include Cognitive Foundations of Natural History: Towards an Anthropology of Science (Cambridge Univ. Press), In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion (Oxford Univ. Press), The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature (MIT Press, with Doug Medin), and Talking to the Enemy: Violent Extremism, Sacred Values, and What It Means to Be Human (Penguin). His work and life have been spotlighted around the world on television and radio and in the popular and scientific press, including feature and cover stories of the New York Times Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nature and Science. He was elected a fellow of the Cognitive Society and a member of the U.S National Academy of Sciences.