Steven T. Zech
POL S 333
This course examines theories and approaches to the study of political violence with an emphasis on explaining terrorist violence. We will assess theories about the “root causes” of terrorism as well as explanations grounded in social dynamics. Students will begin with readings that conceptualize terrorism as a strategic choice by groups with broader political objectives. The course will provide students with an analytical framework to evaluate outcomes of terrorist violence. We cover a wide variety of historical and contemporary cases where collective actors used terrorism to try and achieve their goals. Cases will include ETA in Spain, the IRA in Ireland, the Brigate Rosse in Italy, the RAF in West Germany, the Weather Underground in the United States, South American states who carried out terror campaigns against the political Left, Sendero Luminoso and the MRTA in Peru, Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq, as well as al-Qaeda and “home-grown” Islamist groups responsible for 9/11, the 2004 Madrid train bombings, and the 2005 London bombings. The course will also examen state counterterrorism strategies and civilian responses to political violence.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
- Current events discussion - Lecture - Readings analysis and discussion
General familiarity with theories from IR, sociology, and psychology is useful, but not required.
Class assignments and grading
Grades are based on class participation and quizzes (15%), a midterm (25%), a 10-12 page research paper (30%), and a final exam (30%).