The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence housed at the University of Maryland, offers a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) looking at the who, what and how of Terrorism Studies, by introducing students to cutting-edge research from the social and behavioral sciences and the experts investigating these topics.
The course begins with a unit looking at widely held myths about terrorism and utilizing empirical data to discuss the realities of broad trends and patterns in terrorist attacks over time. Then, it reviews the psychological factors at play in individual radicalization and recruitment into terrorism, followed by an analysis of terrorist group dynamics. It looks at terrorist group operations, including their attacks and some of the supporting behaviors that allow them to carry out attacks, including use of media, financing, recruitment, and training. In conclusion, the course looks at the factors that drive terrorist group persistence or endurance versus terrorist group desistance, and brings the varied course concepts together through a detailed look at the case of al-Qa’ida.
Week One: WHAT: Dispelling Myths about Terrorism
Week Two: WHAT: The Global Terrorism Database and Visualizing Terrorism Data
Week Three: WHO, WHY: Individual Radicalization
Week Four: WHO, WHY: Terrorist Group Dynamics
Week Five: WHAT: Behaviors that Enable the Next Terrorist Attack
Week Six: Putting it all together: Al-Qa'ida Case Study