COURSES TAUGHT AT WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
The Psychology of War
Fall 2019, Fall 2020
Why does war occur? Why does it last so long? What are its long-term effects on the people that lived through them? This course is designed to shed light on these questions, examining the interaction of psychological and strategic processes in international war and conflict. We will critically examine how psychological factors such as emotions, identity, cognition, and motivation impact (and are impacted by) political violence. We will examine these processes in the context of crisis diplomacy, national security policy, war, post-conflict reconstruction, and more. Specific examples of potential topics include: the global “War on Terror,” ongoing intractable conflicts such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, diplomatic standoffs between the US and adversaries such as North Korea and Russia, and refugee and migration crises around the globe. By the end of this course, students should have a clear understanding of how political conflict both affects and is affected by human psychology, and the implications this has for addressing a host of political problems and challenges.
Terrorism & Counterterrorism
What is terrorism, when is it used, and how can we stop it? This course will tackle these challenging questions, examining both the use of terrorism in political conflict and the ways in which states have responded to these threats. Crucially, we will engage in critical discussions about the definition of terrorism – is one person’s terrorist really another person’s freedom fighter, as the saying goes? We will also explore the strategic logic of terrorism – why do individuals choose to engage in this practice and why it is an effective or ineffective tactic of political violence? Importantly, we will also examine the psychology of terrorism, investigating how the mass public and state leaders react to and cope with terrorist violence. Specific examples of potential topics include: the use of terrorism in anti-colonial and separatist movements, the history of terrorism in the United States from the Ku Klux Klan to jihadism, the post 9/11 “War on Terror,” and the resurgence of white nationalist terrorism around the world. By the end of this course, students should have a clear understanding of what terrorism is, why groups choose this strategy, how citizens and political leaders respond to this violence, and the implications this has for countering terrorism and extremism around the globe today.