Terrorism has been well-defined as “the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming, and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends” (Jonathan Institute, 1979).
Because terrorism always has a political character, it is not only action in a drive for power but a perverse form of mass communication. To understand and oppose terrorists and their strategic messaging is important to the protection of free societies and rational discourse — an effort to which this course contributes.
Indirectly, the course serves larger purposes of The Institute of World Politics by challenging us to think through what we stand for, and how good and rational political discourse should proceed.
Thematic essays and short lectures will identify course themes, and those will be developed via selected case studies of terrorist groups around the world. Contemporary events as well as terrorism campaigns of recent decades are relevant. Full-blooded insurgencies are included where those use terrorism; “terrorism” has many practitioners beyond small groups.
Seminar discussions in eight sessions will be central to mutual learning. Immersion in terrorist thought and practice bring the student to aspects of rhetoric, media studies, politics, morals, law, and foreign policy challenges.