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Course Overview


Course Overview

The course examines the psychology of terrorism not terrorists. Motivation for individual terrorists is quite varied, ranging from zealous advocates of the terrorist organization’s objectives (agenda) to simple mental illness. The motivation for various terrorist organizations is more uniform with similar objectives and approaches across markedly different groups. Even when the methods used to achieve these objectives differ, terrorist organizations often have common motives and strategies for achieving their goals. A primary emphasis of the course is on identifying these common features both within and across terrorist organizations. Students must be able to 'think' like the terrorists to better understand their motives, their objectives, and the methods used to achieve their objectives. Effective counter-terrorist strategies and the eradication of terrorist 'breeding grounds' necessitate 'seeing the world from the terrorist's perspective.' Although some consideration of historic and of a variety contemporary terrorist groups is appropriate, a main focus of the course is on current terrorist threats confronting the United States.

“One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.”

The primary course objectives are:

  • to develop an understanding of and a sensitivity to the social-political conditions that spawn terrorist organizations,
  • to briefly examine terrorism in a historic context,
  • to identify the most serious contemporary terrorist threats,
  • to examine the methods of terrorism,
  • to explore the psychological processes that create a terrorist,
  • to examine the psychological impact of terrorist activities, and
  • to explore counter-terrorism strategies through creative problem-solving.

Click Course Overview to load the Power Point presentation (0.73 MB) summarizing the learning objectives and course requirements.