The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism—better known as START - is a university-based research center committed to the scientific study of the causes and human consequences of terrorism in the United States and around the world.
Headquartered at the University of Maryland, START supports research efforts of leading social scientists at more than 50 academic and research institutions, each of whom is conducting original investigations into fundamental questions about terrorism, including:
- Under what conditions does an individual or a group turn to terrorism to pursue its goals? What is the nature of the radicalization process?
- What attack patterns have different terrorists demonstrated during the past forty years? How has terrorist behavior evolved? And, what does this indicate about likely future terrorist activity?
- What impact does terrorism and the threat of terrorism have on communities, and how can societies enhance their resilience to minimize the potential impacts of future attacks?
START experts apply a range of research methods to the exploration of these questions in order to deliver findings based on the best available open-source evidence and data. At the heart of START's work are the principles that the research it is conducting must be both scientifically rigorous and directly relevant to homeland security professionals.
START is committed to the widespread dissemination of its research findings not only to homeland security professionals, but also to students of all levels and to the general public. START has developed educational materials and programs specifically designed for instructors and students at the secondary, university, and graduate school levels. Educational resources available through START include relevant lesson plans, a syllabi repository, and a range of unique data sources that can be integrated into an array of courses to deepen students' understanding of the dynamics of terrorism. START also has internships and funding opportunities available to undergraduate and graduate students engaged in terrorism research.
In addition, START has developed educational programs, including an Undergraduate Minor in Terrorism Studies available to students at the University of Maryland and an online Graduate Certificate in Terrorism Analysis program, available to qualified students around the world.
Since its launch in 2005, START has been headed by Dr. Gary LaFree, a professor of criminology at the University of Maryland, and START's work is managed by a small staff of terrorism experts and university administrators at Maryland, which works closely with the collection of scholars and students that comprise the START consortium.
START is a part of the collection of Centers of Excellence supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate and also receives funding and support from a variety of Federal agencies, private foundations, and universities. All of START's research is conducted using non-classified materials and its findings are those of individual researchers and do not reflect the official position of any START funders.