Selected Topics in Comparative Politics: International Terrorism

Course Description: 

The attacks of September 11, 2001 and subsequent events, including two ongoing wars, have forced Americans to confront the phenomenon of international terrorism in a much more regular and engaged manner.  In essence, terrorism has gone from being a marginal security concern for most Americans to becoming one of the most pressing issues of our day, both nationally and internationally.  Yet, in reality, “terrorism” has been a persistent and widespread phenomenon throughout the rest of the world well before the events of 9/11.  It has deep historical roots, and has been an integral part of human political behavior and interaction.  This course seeks to analyze the phenomenon of “terrorism” in a highly-analytical and academic (as opposed to normative) way including examining its causes, dynamics, and possible solutions.  In this attempt, the course employs an interdisciplinary approach including insights from the fields of political science, history, psychology, sociology, and anthropology.  The course also combines a blend of theory (both explanatory and analytical), methodology, and empirics to help students better understand and grasp the multi-faceted complexity of “terrorism” and its wider implications. Thus, the primary goal of this course is to provide students with a critical and rich understanding of the phenomenon of “terrorism,” and to spark their intellectual curiosity for future empirical research on the topic.


This class will use a course reader.  Students are expected to complete the “required readings” for each session before the day of the class.  At the beginning of each class session, students are expected to provide me with a one paragraph description/analysis of that day’s readings and at least three pertinent discussion questions for the topic at hand.  I will lecture only a small portion of each class session.  The bulk of each class session will be reserved for critical discussion regarding the conceptual/analytical theme covered that day.  Students are expected to attend each class and be active participants in the discussions.