Why do some people commit terrorist acts? What is a terrorist? Is one man’s freedom fighter another man’s terrorist? What is terrorism, really? This class examines these fundamental questions and many more in order to gain some insight into one of the most talked about political phenomenon of our time. The class is taught by Dr. Hilde Restad, and has been developed in collaboration with Dr. Anders Romarheim at the Institute of Defence Studies (IFS).

About the Course

This course examines a wide range of questions in order to provide students with a deeper understanding of not only the evolving threat of terrorism, but also the evolving problems produced by counterterrorist measures employed by states, mainly the United States. This course thus starts by exploring the phenomenon of terrorism, but focuses most on the phenomenon of counterterrorism.

Among the questions it examines are: What is terrorism? What is a terrorist – is one man’s freedom fighter really another man’s terrorist? How has the threat of terrorism changed over time? What motivates different types of terrorist groups? When does terrorism succeed and fail? How can terrorism best be fought? What are the pitfalls of states pursuing counterterrorism? What is the post-mortem of the “War on Terror” as pursued by the United States from 2001-2009? How does the United States fight terrorism after the end of its “war on terror”?

The course will also look at the July 22, 2011 terror attack in Norway, and examine the attack itself, the ideology behind it, and the phenomenon of “lone wolves.” As is in keeping with the dual themes of the course, it shall also cover the Norwegian government’s response to the attack, and the political and organization fallout from this response.

 

Learning outcomes

The candidate shall be able to…

Knowledge

  • Understand and analyse core concepts of the class as defined by the syllabus.
  • Understand and explain potential causes of terrorism.
  • Describe and explain terrorist movements.
  • Analyse the political balancing act between counterterrorism and liberal democratic values.

Skills

  • Analyse and discuss various forms of terrorism.
  • Analyse and discuss various strategies of counterterrorism.
  • Analyse the political balance between counterterrorism strategies and liberal democratic values.
  • Evaluate various forms of counterterrorism strategies.
  • Critically evaluate how terrorism is covered in the media.
  • Discuss and present key topics orally.

Competence

  • Identify and discuss academic and ethical issues related to terrorism research
  • Critically evaluate the use of the term «terrorism» both in the media and in scientific publications.

 

Assessment

Requirement:

  • Compulsory participation in discussions in the digital classroom.

 Exam:

  • Take home exam (individual essay); memo: 3500 words (+/- 10 % excluding front page and reference list) (60 % of the grade, grading system A – F)
  • 3 hour written exam (40 % of the grade, grading system A – F)