The Global Challenge of Terrorism

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Course Information
Political Science
International Relations
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 

*IMPORTANT: This course is an International Affairs & Security Studies content course. Students on the Metropolitan Studies program CANNOT take more than TWO International Affairs & Security Studies content courses! 

Terrorism dominates headlines, steers foreign policy, and foists unpleasant ethical dilemmas upon us. By examining terrorist ideologies, aims, beliefs, and motivations, this course elucidates the concept and types of terrorism as well as today’s prominent terrorist groups and networks. We strive to understand the mindset of committing violence for a higher religious or political cause, explore international efforts to curb terrorism, and discuss the dilemma of safeguarding democracy without sacrificing its foundational values of freedom, tolerance, and pluralism.

Resisting the temptation to counter terrorist attacks by restricting or even suspending human rights remains one of the biggest challenges in the War on Terror. Surveillance, enhanced interrogation methods, drone strikes, secret evidence, and detention without trial present us with thought-provoking discussions.

How does the US approach to homeland security and inter-agency counter-terrorism differ from Europe’s? How does the NSA collaborate with European partners to thwart the increasing problem of homegrown terrorism? While we do focus on Islamist terrorism – from 9/11 to the Islamic State and the ensuing War on Terror – we also examine other cases including left-wing (Red Army Faction – RAF) and right-wing terrorism (the National Socialist Underground – NSU) in Germany.

Our discussions also touch upon cyber terrorism, how terrorist ideology manifests itself in terms of targets and tactics, how we can avert various worst-case scenarios, and religious justifications for terrorism, especially suicide terrorism and motives for martyrdom.