Head of Counterterrorism Program
ExpertiseTerrorism, extremism and the propaganda dynamics of asymmetric conflict
Katja Theodorakis was the Head of ASPI's Counterterrorism program until early 2023.
Before joining ASPI, she was Senior Program Coordinator for Research and Analysis (Foreign/Security Policy) at the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation’s Australia Office where she coordinated a portfolio spanning the fields of terrorism/extremism, European defence/security matters, cybersecurity and the wider strategic relations in the Indo-Pacific. This entailed engagement and strategic outreach to the national security community, with the aim of enhancing cooperation between Australia and Germany/Europe.
Katja publishes and presents at seminars, conferences and masterclasses (for representatives from DoD, security agencies, DFAT) and has appeared on national TV and radio for commentary. She has engaged in academic teaching, such as most recently as a seasonal lecturer for a course on ‘Terrorism and Propaganda in Cyberspace’ at the Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security at Charles Sturt University. At the Australian National University, Katja has taught and tutored on Middle East politics, Islam and International Terrorism at the postgraduate and undergraduate level.
She is also a member of the Future Operations Research Group and co-founder of the associated Women In Future Operations platform at the UNSW at ADFA. Here, her focus is on insurgent/extremist propaganda and their strategic use in information operations. A key premise underpinning Katja's research is the need to look beyond technocratic approaches to propaganda campaigns in order to capture the full breadth of extremism, including cognitive and affective factors.
Katja has lived in the Middle East, where she was engaged in educational projects and NGO work in Syria during the early years of Bashar al-Assad’s presidency. She holds a First-Class Honours degree in International Development from the Australian National University, was recipient of several scholarships including an Australian Government Research Training PhD Scholarship, and has been awarded the 2016 ANU Media and Outreach Award as Emerging Media Talent for her commendable media output and performance as a young researcher.