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David H. Schanzer

Professor of the Practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy
Sanford School of Public Policy
Box 90250, Durham, NC 27708-0250
136 Rubenstein Hall, Terry Sanford School of Public, Durham, NC 27708
Office hours Wednesdays, 1:30-3:30  


David Schanzer is a professor of the practice at the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy University and director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. He teaches courses, conducts research and engages in public dialogue on counterterrorism strategy, counterterrorism law and homeland security.

Schanzer is the lead author of a trilogy National Institute of Justice studies on terrorism prevention: “Engaging Communities to Prevent Violent Extremism: A Review of the Obama Administration’s CVE Initiative,” (2019), “The Challenge and Promise of Using Community Policing Strategies to Prevent Violent Extremism” (2015) and “Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim Americans” (2010).

Prior to his academic appointments, Schanzer was the Democratic staff director for the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security from 2003 to 2005. He previously served as the legislative director for Sen. Jean Carnahan (2001-2002), counsel to Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (1996-1998), and counsel to Sen. William S. Cohen (1994-1996).

His positions in the executive branch include special counsel, Office of General Counsel, Department of Defense (1998-2001) and trial attorney, United States Department of Justice (1992-94). Schanzer was a clerk for U.S. District Judge Norma L. Shapiro and in the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States.

Schanzer is a graduate of Harvard College where he received an A.B. cum laude in government in 1985 and of Harvard Law School, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review from 1987-1989.

Schanzer has appeared on international, national and local radio and television discussing terrorism and homeland security and is the author of more than 70 op-ed articles on these subjects that have appeared in newspapers around the country and on-line. He created two free “massive open on-line courses” – Understanding 9/11 and Responding to 9/11 – on the Coursera platform that have been used by approximately 25,000 people around the globe. Currently, he writes about challenges facing modern democracies on his Substack newsletter -- Perilous Times.

In 2023, he was awarded the Richard Stubbing Memorial Teaching and Mentorship Award for outstanding contributions to the graduate programs at the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy.


Current Appointments & Affiliations

Professor of the Practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy · 2018 - Present Sanford School of Public Policy

Education, Training & Certifications

Harvard University · 1989 J.D.