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POLS 197

First-Year Seminar

A seminar on a theme related to political science. Open only to first-year students.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

Fall Semester information

Deepa Prakash

197A: FYS: Understanding Contemporary Terrorism

Whether it is London, New York, Mumbai, Beirut, Mali, Paris, Charleston, Istanbul, Brussels, Lahore or countless other sites, not a day goes by without news of some act of terror perpetrated against civilians. Yet, for all of this ubiquity, our understanding of terrorism remains muddled, ridden with misconceptions and plagued by faulty policymaking.

In this course, we will collectively ponder a few key questions about terrorism and examine a range of possible answers to these questions offered in existing scholarly and policy literature as well as film and fiction. These questions are: 'what is terrorism?', 'What causes terrorism?', 'What is new or different about contemporary terrorism and how is it evolving?' and finally 'How does terrorism end and what can we do to combat it?' In exploring these questions we will debate the legacy and lessons learned from landmark attacks and examine the recent rise of ISIS. We will think about the consequences of terrorism for a range of topics including: balance between civil liberty and security, terrorist motivations, ideas about 'self' and 'other' in the U.S. and abroad, including questions about immigration and interrogate the premise and impact of the 'war on terror' for collectivities such as victims, 'terrorists', 'the West', Muslims, soldiers and immigrants. We may not definitely resolve these questions but we'll arrive at the beginnings of our own answers to them.