The mission of the Roots of Terrorism Initiative is to conduct innovative, policy-orientated research into terrorism. The initiative began in 2002 as a joint venture of the Research Center for Group Dynamics (RCGD) and the Center for Political Studies (CPS) at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research (ISR). Members include researchers from the fields of psychology, political science, sociology, and anthropology.

The Roots of Terrorism Initiative seeks to advance research into terrorism through two principal means. First, the group has developed several research projects to explore topics including the causes of popular support for terrorism, the dynamics of recruitment vulnerability, the causes of compromise and aggression in politically violent contexts, and the developmental consequences of youth exposure to political violence. This research draws on expertise in survey and experimental methodologies at the ISR to increase our theoretical understanding of the complex causes of terrorism as well as to provide policy-orientated recommendations regarding how we might best address the causes of terrorism and reduce its consequences.

Second, the Initiative organizes events aimed at bringing together scholars from the University of Michigan community and beyond to discuss research and to develop multidisciplinary approaches to issues relating to terrorism. For example, in March 2004, we organized a colloquium on the strategic importance, causes and consequences of terrorism at which researchers affiliated with a wide range of University of Michigan schools and departments presented their research. In addition, we helped organize a NATO conference on Suicide Terrorism held in Lisbon, Portugal, in mid-June, 2004.