Understanding Terrorism and the Terrorist Threat
The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence housed at the University of Maryland, offers a course looking at the who, what and how of Terrorism Studies, by introducing students to cutting-edge research from the social and behavioral sciences and the experts investigating these topics.
The course will begin with a unit looking at widely held myths about terrorism and utilizing empirical data to discuss the realities of broad trends and patterns in terrorist attacks over time. The course will then review the psychological factors at play in individual radicalization and recruitment into terrorism, followed by an analysis of terrorist group dynamics. The course will next look at terrorist group operations, including their attacks and some of the supporting behaviors that allow them to carry out attacks, including use of media, financing, recruitment, and training. The course will conclude by looking at the factors that drive terrorist group persistence or endurance versus terrorist group desistance, and will bring the varied course concepts together through a detailed look at the case of Al-Qa’ida.
Throughout the course, students will have the opportunity to study and work with the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD), the largest database of terrorist incidents in the world, learning its capabilities and developing basic skills in searching and displaying terrorism data.