Terrorism and Counterterrorism (Semmelbeck, Spring 2015)

Hauptseminar, Spring 2015: Ausgewählte Themen der internationalen Beziehungen:
Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Understanding Terrorist Networks and their Strategic Disruption

Instructor: Julia Semmelbeck

FSS 2015
SWS: 2


This course aims to equip students with an in-depth understanding of terrorism as a form of networked interaction. We will discuss how terrorist organizations operate in terms of tactics or recruitment. Secondly, we will assess the consequences of terrorism and the effectiveness of different counterterrorism strategies.
Methodologically, we will focus on the use of social network analysis in terrorism research. The goal is to understand how to employ social network analysis and to understand the challenges a researcher faces due to the clandestine character of terrorist organizations.

The objectives of this seminar are threefold. First, students are introduced to the method of terrorism as a form of political violence. It is essential to understand the actors, the structure of terrorist groups as well as their modus operandi. Only then it is possible to start an informed discussion about the possible strategies of countering terrorism. To this end, the seminar introduces Social Network Analysis as a methodological tool that can be utilized to disrupt the operational capacities of terrorist networks. Second, the seminar aims to introduce several datasets used to study terrorism. Terrorism is a clandestine activity. As such the availability and reliability of data pose significant challenges for terrorism research. Students will familiarize themselves with available datasets and assess their use for research projects. The third objective of this course is to learn (or refresh) issues concerning research design as well as to critically assess arguments in the assigned literature or made by fellow students.

Course requirements:

Students’ regular attendance and participation is required as well as a presentation and four short critical essays (all in English).

Office hours:

By appointment
Parkring 47, Room 109

Dates and times:

Wednesday, 15:30–17:00 (weekly), Room: A5, 6, B–143