2014 Tillman Scholar

Wayne Johnson

Georgetown University
M.S., Foreign Affairs

“I believe that sociological and media processes that bring ordinary people to commit a crime can be reversed.”

While serving with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wayne led counter-bomb troops in Afghanistan, forestry parachuting troops in the U.S. along with disaster relief. Prosocial in nature, he reflected on what he wanted his life’s work to be, and what would be the most useful individual service he could provide to his fellow man. After much thought, he enrolled in the MS Foreign Service program at Georgetown University and left active duty.

Studying at Georgetown University, Wayne was intrigued by how propaganda campaigns in pre-WWII Germany, Rwanda, and other locations facilitated mass atrocities. At the same time, he took conflict resolution classes and interned with the State Department Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations for Israel-Palestine operations. Through additional work in the Civil Affairs Reserves and at the JFK Special Warfare Center, Wayne recognized a unique opportunity to understand and de-escalate conflict and mass cruelty.

Wayne proposes that the same sociological and media processes that bring ordinary people to commit a crime can be reversed. He believes there is a way back for individuals and groups moving towards genocide or long-embroiled in conflict. He argues that using the same channels that mobilize violence in the first place are more effective means that statecraft or high-level diplomacy. Wayne is now pursuing a doctorate at Cornell and hopes to partner with Army Psychological Operations to test and promulgate his theories.