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Program it. Predict it. Prevent it. 

An expert crew of computer scientists and religion scholars embark on a three-year project to apply computer simulation and

modeling to find solutions to worldwide humanitarian crises. Called to action by the Boston Marathon Bombing and increasing
religious extremist terrorist attacks in North America and Europe, the scientists develop cutting-edge technology at their headquarters in research centers in Boston and Virginia as well as at a Norwegian university. The team eventually travels to refugee
camps in Lesvos, Greece, to understand and simulate connections between religious extremism and the refugee crisis. They use the
powerful modeling and simulation methodology to develop policy recommendations for predicting and preventing religious
radicalization and violence.

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Radicalization, religiously rationalized violence, and refugee displacement are urgent large-scale crises in today’s world. Responses range from traditional military campaigns, grassroots activism to politicized gestures, but no one has been able to come up with anything beyond short-term band-aid solutions to what is a long-term problem. The Modeling Religion Project (MRP) team is taking a “think outside the box” approach. They have embarked upon the challenge of using the cutting-edge technology of computer simulation and modeling to test and validate scholarly theories from the scientific study of religion about what causes religious violence--which lead them to long-term concrete public. policy proposals that have the potential to prevent further tragedy stemming from religious extremist terror attacks.

This film captures the story of invention and personal purpose that goes into developing technology that can make the world a better, safer place. The MRP models shed light on the conditions that lead to religious violence and also illuminate the path by which massive human displacement is not only caused by religious sectarian violence but also how some asylum-seekers and second-generation youth become vulnerable to radicalization in their host countries. This story demonstrates how the powerful methodology of computer modeling and simulation can reveal solutions to some of the world’s most pressing global issues. It can shine a light on the lethal ignorance that blocks us from better understanding our collective complexity and towards demonstrating to policymakers how the computer model methodology offers a useful confrontation of complex global issues.

Watch The Trailer

Producer and Director

Post-Production Team

Lead Assistant Editor 

Em Cegielski

Motion Graphics and Technical Consultant

Andrea Monzani

Sound Editor

Chase Horseman

Color Grading

Manuel Grieco


Xurxo Romaní


Danielle Roberts

Executive Producers

Wesley Wildman

Edoardo Varasi

Refugees Arrival Footage

Erik Kempson


Related Publications & Resources

Dissociated Landscapes

Jun - Sep 2023

Shults, Wildman, Gore, Lane, Lynch, and Diallo, “Modeling terror management theory: Computer simulations of the impact of mortality salience on religiosity,” Religion, Brain & Behavior, 2017.

Gore, Lemos, and Shults, “Forecasting Changes in Religiosity and Existential Security with an Agent-based Model,” Journal of the Artificial Social Simulation Society, 2018.

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