Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592: Psychology of Terrorism

Instructor: John Christian (christianj AT uncw DOT edu)

The purpose of this course will be to provide a overview of current psychological viewpoints on terrorism. Research and literature concerning these theories on the psychological impact of terrorism, social and psychological roots of terrorism, and attempts to find a "terrorist profile" will be reviewed.The focus of the course will be on current international and domestic terrorist threats to the United States. Despite the focus on current threats, a broad overview of historic terrorist threats and organizations will also be given in order to provide a context in which to compare and contrast current organizations. Motivations and strategies of current terrorist organizations will be reviewed. The psychological process of becoming a terrorist will be discussed in light of current theories. Drawing together previous lectures and readings, several case studies will be presented in class along with guided discussions with students examining known terrorists. Finally, intersection of psychological understandings of terrorism and counter-terrorism strategies will be discussed. Potential guest lecturers will include military personnel (e.g., operational psychologists, military intelligence, special operations personnel, etc.) with various experiences working with Islamic terrorists.

Last Update: November 12, 2008