Robert L. McKenzie, PhD, is an adjunct professor at Columbia University and a non-resident fellow at New America. McKenzie is a domestic and foreign policy analyst, with fifteen years of applied research and work experience for the U.S. government, private sector, and academia. An anthropologist by training, McKenzie is an expert in displaced persons and forced migration in Africa and the Middle East, as well as refugee resettlement, integration, and diaspora communities in the United States and Europe. Since 2016, McKenzie has served as the principal investigator on a series of research projects studying how disinformation and hate spread online and in the real world.
McKenzie advises social media companies, as well as large and mid-size tech companies, on how to address sophisticated and persistent bad actors, foreign- and domestic-sponsored disinformation operations, medical misinformation, and violent extremist groups. McKenzie is co-editing a book project entitled Exploring Hate: An Anthology (Brookings Institution Press, 2020).
McKenzie was previously a visiting fellow and nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where he focused on Muslim communities in the West and the Syrian refugee crisis. In his most recent government position, McKenzie served as Senior Advisor for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) at the U.S. Department of State. Prior to that position, McKenzie was responsible for all aspects of establishing and launching the Hedayah Center in Abu Dhabi—the world’s first-ever international center on CVE. McKenzie has also been an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, a lecturer at Wayne State University (Detroit), a researcher at the American University in Cairo, and a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford.
McKenzie has written for, appeared with, or been cited by: Al Jazeera Arabic; Al Jazeera English; Baltimore Sun; Bloomberg View; Brookings Cafeteria Podcast; CityLab; CNN; C-SPAN; Detroit Free Press; Foreign Policy in Focus; The Guardian; Houston Public Radio; The Intercept; National Public Radio; New York Times; Quartz; Washington Post; and Washington Times.
McKenzie was born and raised in the Detroit metropolitan area. He earned a bachelor's in economics from Michigan State University, where he was a walk-on to the men’s varsity basketball team. He earned a master’s in security studies and a graduate certificate in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, and a doctorate in anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. His PhD dissertation was an ethnographic study of urban refugees in Cairo, Egypt.