Aerin PhD, MA, BA

University of Massachusetts
(Online Only)


University of Massachusetts, PhD Global Studies (2018)
Harvard University/Doshisha University, Non-degree courses in Literature/Religion (2012-2014)
University of Massachusetts, MA Criminal Justice (2011) & Forensic Criminology Certificate (2011)
Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. BA Literature (2009)

Counter-terrorism, Military Ethics, Political Science, Criminal Justice, Religion, Literature, Psychology

Aerin grew up in the Boston area of the United States and began her academic career by receiving a BA in Literature at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. Though she loved the Humanities, she also loved the Social Sciences and shifted her education accordingly. Upon completing her MA in Criminal Justice at the University of Massachusetts, she spent a couple of years taking graduate literature courses at Harvard. Here, she had the opportunity to study abroad at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. Soon after the Boston Marathon bombings, she decided she wanted to return to UMASS to study terrorism and completed a PhD program in Global Studies.

Aerin has many different interests and takes every chance she can to explore a variety of disciplines in her work. She has worked on projects ranging from AI research for the Defense Department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to history research for a renowned author at Harvard University. She has also taught in the Philosophy Department at UMASS, where she focused on military ethics & bioethics.

In 2018, Aerin moved to Japan for four years to teach at international high schools in Tokyo and Nagoya. Her full-time job today is teaching Literature, Political Science, and Digital Literacy at a high school in New Hampshire, USA. On the side, she freelances in website publication and copy-editing.


  • In queue for publication: “Fostering bottom-up censorship from the top-down: Nationalism and Media freedom” (with Nicole Anderson & Jenifer Whitten-Woodring). International Journal of Press/Politics.
  • Published: “Defining dual-use research: When scientific advances can both help and hurt humanity” (with Nicholas Evans). Feb 2, 2017. The Conversation.
    Under review: “Brains in Battle: Report on the Greenwall Foundation Project on Neuroscience and National Security” (with Nicholas Evans)


  • Commins, A. (April, 2018) “Our Century’s Wager: Albert Camus, Dialogue, and the Un-Othering of the Terrorist”. Paper presented at the International Studies Association, San Francisco, California.
  • Commins, A., Anderson, N., & Whitten-Woodring, J. (November, 2017) “Fostering bottom-up censorship from the top-down: Nationalism and Media freedom”. Paper presented at the New England Political Science Association, Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Commins, A. & Evans, N. (January, 2017). “Brains in Battle: Report on the Greenwall Foundation Project on Neuroscience and National Security”. Paper presented at the International Society for Military Ethics conference, Washington, D.C.
  • Commins, A. (March, 2015). “Shinto Syncretism and the Mitigation of Violence towards the ‘Other’ in Early Japan”. Paper presented at the Northeastern History Graduate Student conference, Boston, Massachusetts.

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