Mapping Contemporary Terrorism Courses at Top-Ranked National Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges in the U.S.

Mapping Contemporary Terrorism Courses at Top-Ranked National Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges in the U.S.

by Ivan Sascha Sheehan

 

Abstract

Most of the scholarly work on Terrorism Studies focuses on terrorism research (knowledge production). By contrast, relatively little attention has been paid to teaching about terrorism (knowledge dissemination) at universities. This paper addresses this gap by providing a systematic analysis of contemporary terrorism courses at 106 top-ranked U.S. based universities and colleges. The study uses 1) key word searches of course catalogues for the academic year 2010-2011 to identify terrorism courses; 2) descriptive statistics to document the field and disciplinary distributions of these courses 2) stepwise regression to assess the relative contributions of institutional characteristics to the frequency of these courses; 3) text analysis to extract dominant topics and a qualitative review of a sample of syllabi. The results indicate that a) most of the these academic institutions offer terrorism courses but courses only secondarily on terrorism outnumber those explicitly or primarily on terrorism by 3:1; b) the institutional presence of a highly cited terrorism scholar, a security studies program and terrorism research center are significantly associated with more terrorism courses c) courses explicitly on terrorism tend to emphasize non-state terrorism and prescriptively focus on counterterrorism while those only secondarily on terrorism have a broader focus. The results have implications for the development of Terrorism Studies as an academic discipline.

 

Introduction

The study of terrorism has been described alternately as a “booming field” and as one that is “unbounded“ and “unruly” barely existing at the margins or “interstices” of academia. [1]  Routinely critiqued for not being able to come to a consensus on a definition of terrorism [2] and for insufficient rigor in research [3], accused by the those on the right of the political spectrum of producing experts who sympathize too much with their subjects [4] and by the left for having too state-centric a security focus (and not considering violence perpetrated by states) [5], Terrorism Studies could be said to be under siege. Still, publications and dissertations on terrorism are increasing, Terrorism Studies programs are exploding at many of the world’s colleges and universities and although federal funding for terrorism research has declined in the U.S. in the last two years, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security still allocates millions of dollars to university-based homeland security research and development programs, especially those in its designated COEs (Centers of Excellence). [6] How are America’s top-ranked universities, the ones that are often assumed to set academic trends, handling this situation?

Most of the scholarly work on Terrorism Studies has focused on terrorism research (knowledge production). [1-3] [7-14] By contrast, relatively little attention has been paid to how universities treat Terrorism Studies in terms of teaching (knowledge dissemination).[15]  This may be because research is viewed as more important to the legitimization of a field or simply because knowledge creation is seen as something that inevitably and necessarily precedes knowledge dissemination. The history of the development of academic fields, however, suggests that although research is critical, teaching also matters and indeed new fields may emerge and become integrated into college curricula, as many area and ethnic studies did, in response to a need and demand for teaching on a subject. Moreover, there is increasing evidence that researchers have much to learn from teachers who may refine, re-define or re-construct a subject in ways that cast new light on avenues for new research. [16]

This study was designed to address the gap in data on the teaching component of Terrorism Studies by providing a systematic review and analysis of recent catalogue descriptions and syllabi from academic courses on terrorism and courses with terrorism content at America’s top 80 national universities and top 26 liberal arts colleges.

Fundamental questions addressed in the study include the following: How visibly committed are America’s top academic institutions to offering courses on terrorism? How many offer distinct courses on terrorism? How many only offer courses that include content on terrorism, secondarily or peripherally, as a topic among other topics? To what extent are institutional characteristics associated with more or fewer terrorism courses? Which institutions and which academic departments offer the most terrorism courses? What are the dominant topics? Are there differences in the number or types of terrorism courses across undergraduate vs. graduate curricula? And to what extent does a closer examination of syllabi provide other insights e.g. about the scholarly nature of these courses?

Since visible teaching at universities or colleges is one component of the evolution of an academic discipline, this study has implications for the legitimization of terrorism as a field or discipline. It also has implications for the generation of new terrorism scholars since academic preparation, especially at the undergraduate level, is an important influence in the choice of research topics at graduate levels.

 

Background

Evolution of Terrorism Studies

Terrorist activities became a concern for Western governments in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, but, unlike war, it was often considered too fuzzy or too policy-oriented for academics. There was no one universally accepted definition of the phenomenon. [17-18] The subject, moreover, did not fit “neatly” into any one department. It could be researched from the perspective of psychology, history, political science, sociology, religion, ethics, and even area studies. And while it might appear to fit best in political science or international relations, it was not a topic that could be easily adapted to either the realist or liberal paradigms that dominated those departments.[19] Perhaps more importantly, terrorism was considered too driven by short-term policy agendas and government contracts to deserve serious or sustained attention. A few important scholars within university settings e.g. Martha Crenshaw, David Rapoport, Walter Laqueur and Paul Wilkinson did make sustained scholarly contributions in these early years, but they were exceptional and all too frequently terrorism was viewed as a topic that was risky for academics and one that belonged outside the ivory tower. Indeed, as late as 2002, a full year after 9/11, Audrey Kurth Cronin observed that for graduate students a “principal interest in terrorism virtually guarantees exclusion from consideration for most academic positions.” [19]

Still, in the context of 9/11, dissertations proliferated and the number of terrorism publications was estimated to have increased by as much as 60 percent by 2004. [20] [21] The period after 9/11 also witnessed an infusion of federal money into research and into research facilities designed to find solutions to “pressing security concerns”; dozens of homeland security programs emerged at community colleges, universities and graduate schools across the U.S. [22] Today, according to a listing maintained by the Naval Postgraduate School and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there are more than 340 such programs located among 260 universities and colleges across the country [23] and a growing number of universities now host Terrorism Research Centers. [24]  Although federal funding for such programs and centers is not as generous as it was a few years ago [25], some of these academic institutions, designated as Centers of Excellence (COE) [26], receive millions of dollars in federal grants annually. These trends have helped launch new sub-fields (e.g. cyberterrorism and information security) and are believed by some to be opening new career pathways for junior faculty. [27]

The study of terrorism was on its way to becoming a distinct academic field, discipline or specialty. Or, was it? For some, the answer was no. Despite initial optimism, writes Andrew Silke, the field has not “crystallized” into an academic discipline or even a sub-discipline or specialty. [28] Although many explanations for this state of affairs have been advanced, the most common ones are that terrorism as an object of study is too diffuse, too unbounded, crosses too many disciplines and lacks conceptual clarity.[1] Today the field is also being contested and problematized by advocates of “Critical Terrorism Studies” [29] and by subscribers to a theory that the field is still dominated by a core of 42 “key terrorism researchers,” many from think tanks and non-academic settings. [30]

 

The Problem of Disciplinarity

But how important “disciplining” is to the future of Terrorism Studies is a matter of debate. Avishag Gordon, a proponent of promoting terrorism to an academic discipline, has gone on record to state that an important opportunity was missed. [15] Silke, on the other hand, has stated that the failure of Terrorism Studies to become a discipline “is not necessarily a bad thing” since “good science does not need a ring-fenced academy.” [21]

Whether Terrorism Studies will go on to become a distinct discipline is not yet known. What is clear is that the future of terrorism research depends on generating new cohorts of scholars and the production of scholars depends on generating interest, enthusiasm and skills, tasks that are best accomplished in academic courses that in some way address terrorism as a puzzle that requires inquiry and investigation. This consideration highlights the need to take a closer look at how terrorism as a subject of academic inquiry is taught in our universities and colleges. The present article is designed to contribute to this discussion.

 

Data and Methods

The top 80 national universities and 26 liberal arts colleges were identified using US News and World Reports undergraduate rankings for 2010-2011. [31] Although these institutions constitute an admittedly limited sample of all higher education institutions in the U.S., their “center-to-periphery” influence as creators or distributors of knowledge has long been acknowledged [32]. Many of these national universities train graduate students who “diffuse” or “radiate” models of orientation when they go on to teach in other sectors. Similarly, top liberal arts colleges, thought to “uphold the traditions of liberal education,” often become models, in the words of the sociologist Burton Clark, “for what education would be if properly carried out.” [33] As such they may be viewed as trendsetters, both domestically and globally.

Key word searches of course catalogue descriptions, available online, were used to identify courses explicitly or primarily on terrorism (defined here as courses with the term “terrorism” in the title) or only secondarily on terrorism (defined here as courses with “terrorism” content as evidenced in the text of the course description but not in the title). To minimize the potential for changes in courses during an academic year, all of the searches of course catalogues were performed at about mid term (March-April) in the spring of 2011. To avoid duplication, courses that were cross-listed across departments or listed more than once because they had multiple sections were only counted once.

Courses meeting the above criteria were listed by nine institutional characteristics. They included type of institution (national university or liberal arts college), level of study (undergraduate or graduate), institutional funding (public or private), institutional size (in terms of undergraduate enrollment), regional location, ranking, the presence of a peace- or security studies program or degree, the presence of a Terrorism Research Center, and the presence of at least one well-known (i.e. highly cited) scholar. For the purpose of the study, the presence of a security program or degree (concentration, minor, major, certificate or graduate degree in security, biodefense, intelligence analysis, emergency preparedness) was based on catalogue information, supplemented by a listing prepared by the Naval PostGraduate School and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. [34] The presence of a peace studies program (concentration, minor, major or degree in peace studies or peace and conflict or conflict resolution) was based on catalogue listings supplemented by a listing of academic peace studies programs prepared by Pilgrim Pathways. [35] The presence of at least one well-known terrorism scholar was documented using Google Scholar listings of scholars with 75 or more terrorism related citations using March 2012 data for the period 2000-2012. [36]

All courses were further listed by academic discipline and field (defined broadly as Social Sciences, Humanities, Natural Sciences, Area Studies, other Interdisciplinary Studies, Professional or Pre-professional fields such as Law and Criminal Justice and other Pre-Professional fields such as communications, journalism, social work and health).

Dominant topics were identified using course titles and catalogue descriptions for a sub-sample of undergraduate courses primarily on terrorism (n=90 courses) and courses only secondarily on the subject (n=329 courses). Only universities and colleges institutions with 7 or more undergraduate terrorism courses (n=38 institutions) were used for these analyses. To extract dominant topics from undergraduate course listings, counts of key words associated with the study of terrorism (e.g. war, crime, tactics, counterterrorism, rights, religion, moral) were identified in course descriptions and recorded.

Additional data relating to required readings and scholarly content were obtained from a review of syllabi and textbook requirements from a smaller sample these courses.

 

Data Analysis

Descriptive statistics were employed to document the overall frequency and distribution of terrorism courses, primary and secondary. Text analysis, using the Text Analysis tool created by the Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE), a unit within the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was employed to extract dominant topics from course descriptions for undergraduate courses.[37] To facilitate comparison of key words for primary and secondary courses, rates for key word counts are presented per 100 primary courses and per 100 secondary courses. The relationship between institutional characteristics and the number of terrorism courses was evaluated by using stepwise forward multiple regression techniques. An advantage of stepwise multiple regression is that it allows for simultaneous control of many variables and takes into account the overall patterning of a group of variables in predicting a single variable. A disadvantage of this, as with all statistical models, is that unknown variables that could have an important influence on the outcome may be omitted.

 

Results

Institutional characteristics for the 80 national universities and 26 liberal colleges in the study are shown in Table 1.  Most (69%) of the institutions were privately funded. The Northeast had the largest concentration (40%) and the Mid-Atlantic had the smallest (8.5%). One fourth of the institutions (mostly liberal arts colleges) were of small size (enrolling 3,000 or fewer undergraduates), 48% were of medium size (enrolling 3,000-9,999 undergraduates) and the remaining institutions were either large (20%) enrolling 10,000-19,999 undergraduates or very large (30%), enrolling more than 20,000 undergraduates. Twenty-five institutions (29 national universities and 2 liberal arts colleges offered a security studies program or degree, 22 (15 national universities and 8 liberal arts colleges) offered a peace studies program or degree and 21 (24 national universities and one liberal arts college (USMA/West Point) hosted a Terrorism Research Center (TRC). Of these TRC, 7 were designated Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence. [38] Twenty-two institutions (21 national universities terrorism and one liberal arts college (USMA/West Point) had at least one well-known terrorism scholar on the faculty and many had more than one. [39]

table 1

Table 1 . Institutional characteristics of study sample

a. Size: small defined as <3,000 undergraduates; medium as 3,000-9,999 undergraduates; large as 10,000-19,999 undergraduates; very large as 20,000 or more undergraduates.

b. Homeland Security program or degree: includes degree offerings such as a minor, major, certificate or graduate degree security, biodefense, intelligence analysis, emergency preparedness. Based on catalogue information and listing provided by the Naval PostGraduate School and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Available at http://www.chds.us/?partners/institutions

c. Peace studies degree: presence of a peace studies or peace and conflict studies program or degree; based on catalogue descriptions and Pilgrim Pathways’ “Listing of Colleges/Universities with Peace Studies Programs.” Available at http://pilgrimpathways.wordpress.com/about/

d. Terrorism Research Center (TRC): presence of a TRC based on Freedman, B. “Terrorism Research Centres: 100 Institutes, Programs and Organisations in the Field of Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Radicalisation and Asymmetric Warfare Studies,” Perspectives on Terrorism 4 (5). Additions to the list include Northeastern U, which opened the George J Kostas Institute for Homeland Security in 2011, NYU which houses the Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response.

e. Terrorism Scholar: presence of at least one well-known or highly cited terrorism scholar on the faculty. Defined as a scholar with 75 or more citations for terrorism-related publications (journal articles and books). Based on Google Scholar search for 2000-2012, accessed March 2012.

Undergraduate Terrorism Courses

Number of courses. The key word catalogue search on terrorism yielded a total 689 distinct undergraduate courses on terrorism for the institutions in the sample. Of these, 159 (23%) could be classified as primarily on terrorism since they contained the word terrorism in the course title. The remainder (530) were classified as secondarily or more peripherally on terrorism since they contained content on terrorism among other subjects but did not use the term terrorism in the title of the course description.

More than half of the institutions studied (66% of the 80 national universities and 54% of the 26 liberal arts colleges) offered at least one undergraduate course with terrorism in the title of the course and more than 9 out of 10 of each type of institution offered a course with terrorism content either in the course title or description. The total numbers of terrorism courses, however, showed considerable variation. Within institutions with any terrorism courses, the number of courses explicitly on terrorism ranged from 1-11 while the number with any terrorism content ranged from 1-35.

table 2

Table 2 . Institutions with the most undergraduate courses explicitly on terrorism

Notes: Based on study sample of 80 top-tier national universities and 26 top-ranked liberal arts colleges, academic year 2010-2011. Primary terrorism courses defined as courses explicitly on terrorism, i.e. with the word “terrorism” in the title of the course. Includes national universities with 3 or more such courses at undergraduate level, 2 or more for small colleges. Courses with multiple sections and ones cross-listed across departments are only counted once.

Most courses on terrorism. The universities and liberal arts colleges with the most undergraduate courses explicitly on terrorism (primary courses) are listed in Table 2. Georgetown topped the list with 11 courses in the national university sample (n=80), but 17 top national universities offered a core of at least four undergraduate courses explicitly on terrorism for the academic year 2010-2011 and the University of Maryland College Park offered an undergraduate minor in the field. In the liberal arts college sample (n=26), 5 institutions offered 2 or 3 courses explicitly on terrorism and the USMA/West Point offered a minor in Terrorism Studies.

Most courses overall. Institutions with the ten or more courses either explicitly on terrorism (primary courses) or with terrorism content (secondary courses) are listed in Table 3. Again, Georgetown with 45 courses overall dominated the list, but several institutions not listed as having a high number of primary courses showed visible commitment to teaching about terrorism in secondary courses. 

Ratio of primary to secondary courses. On average, the ratio of secondary terrorism courses to primary ones at the undergraduate level was 3:1 for national universities and 6:1 for liberal arts colleges. These differences are not surprising given the historically broad orientation of liberal arts colleges and the more specialized orientations of national universities. Still, within the national university cohort, there were distinct differences. At the undergraduate level, the ratio of secondary courses to primary ones was greater than 5:1 at three of the nation’s top universities, Harvard, Stanford and Yale. Moreover, two West coast universities (Washington University at Seattle and UC Berkeley) offered 9 or more courses with terrorism content, but none with terrorism in the title. Conversely, primary courses on terrorism outnumbered those only with terrorism content by 7:0 at the University of North Carolina while some institutions (e.g. University of Maryland College Park, American University) offered approximately equal numbers of courses that were explicitly on terrorism or only had content on the subject.

table 3

Table 3. Institutions with 10 or more undergraduate courses with any terrorism content

Notes: Based on study sample of 80 top-tier national universities and 26 top-ranked liberal arts colleges, academic year 2010-2011. Primary terrorism courses defined as courses explicitly on terrorism, i.e. with the word “terrorism” in the title of the course. Secondary terrorism courses defined as ones with the word “terrorism” only in the course description. This is a conservative listing since courses with multiple sections and ones cross-listed across departments are only counted once.

Institutional predictors: Many of the universities with the most terrorism courses were associated with terrorism research centers, securities studies programs, peace studies or the presence of at least one well-known terrorism scholar. To explore the influence of these characteristics on the number of terrorism courses while controlling for other institutional characteristics (e.g. type of institution, regional location, funding, ranking, size) we conducted an exploratory stepwise regression. The results, shown in Table 4, indicate that institutional characteristics explained a relatively small percent of the variability in terrorism courses (R2=38% for primary courses and 24% for secondary courses). For courses explicitly on terrorism (primary courses), size (large) and the presence of a well-known terrorism scholar were both positively and significantly associated with the number of courses (p<0.02). None of the other institutional characteristics were significant. For all courses (primary and secondary), the presence of a terrorism scholar and the presence of a peace studies program were both positively and significantly associated with the number of courses (p<0.01). None of the other institutional characteristics were significant, except regional location in the South (p<0.03) which was negatively associated with the number of all terrorism courses. This effect was not a function of fewer primary courses but rather of fewer secondary ones in the South.

table 4

Table 4 . Stepwise regression of undergraduate terrorism courses by institutional characteristics

Notes: Number of institutions = 106. The dependent variables are the numbers of primary terrorism courses and of all terrorism courses (primary and secondary). The following 9 variables were permitted to enter the regression: institution type, funding source, ranking, regional location, size of undergraduate student body, presence of a terrorism research center, security or peace studies degree or program and presence of at least one well-known terrorism scholar. The table shows variables in the final model with p values <0.10.

Disciplinary distribution of courses: As shown in Figure 1, more than half (52%) of the courses explicitly or primarily on terrorism were in the field of Social Sciences (defined here to include political science, international relations, international studies, sociology, anthropology and psychology), but almost one fifth (17%) were in the Humanities (including history, philosophy, religion, literature, film and drama). About 13% could be classified as falling under Interdisciplinary Studies (including freshmen seminars and area studies e.g. Middle Eastern Studies, African Studies, Latin American Studies). Relatively few fell under the rubric of Law and Criminal Justice (6%), or Pre-professional studies such as journalism and communications, security studies (4%), and natural sciences (4%).

figure 1

Figure 1 . Distribution of undergraduate terrorism primary courses by academic field

Notes: Primary terrorism course defined as one with the word “terrorism” in the title.

Broken down by discipline (Figure 2), the total number of courses with any terrorism content (in the text or title) was highest at the undergraduate level for political science (164), history (100), and international relations (92). Courses explicitly on terrorism were most frequent in political science (38), international relations (27) and sociology (18) followed by history (14). Only one institution in the national university sample (University of Maryland) offered a minor in Terrorism Studies and none offered a major. As shown in this figure, there were distinct disciplinary differences in the ratio of courses only peripherally on terrorism to those explicitly on the subject. For some disciplines (e.g. philosophy, anthropology, literature/drama, area studies, history) peripheral courses outnumbered explicit ones by as much as 6:1. However, for IR, political science and religion the ratio was closer to 3:1.

fiigure 2

Figure 2 . Frequency of undergraduate terrorism courses (primary and secondary) by discipline

Notes

a.         Course primarily on terrorism defined as one with the word “terrorism” in the title; course secondarily on terrorism defined as one with the word “terrorism” only in the content of the course description.

b.         Bars show total number of courses by discipline and breakdown for primary and secondary terrorism courses.

c.         Basic science includes biology, microbiology, engineering, space sciences. International Relations includes courses in International Studies and in Global Studies.

d.         Data based on catalogue description for top-tier national universities (n=80) and liberal arts colleges (n=26).

Dominant topics. Figure 3 shows the relative rates of references to specific topics per 100 course descriptions of courses primarily on terrorism and per 100 course descriptions of courses only secondarily on the subject.

figure 3


Figure 3 . Dominant topics in undergraduate terrorism course descriptions

Notes: Bars show number of references to topics per 100 courses primarily on terrorism and per 100 courses secondarily on terrorism. Rates per 100 courses calculated from catalogue course descriptions of 90 courses primarily on terrorism and 329 courses secondarily on the subject at the 38 institutions in the sample with a minimum of 7 terrorism courses (primary or secondary).

These rates are based on adjusted totals of 90 courses primarily on terrorism and 329 secondary ones from the studied universities and colleges with at least seven undergraduate terrorism courses overall (n=38 institutions). While counts of key words from text descriptions in catalogues could be viewed as somewhat impressionistic, the results provide valuable insights into the ways terrorism courses are constructed and summarized for potential students.

The most common words for courses primarily on terrorism in order were war, violence, counterterrorism, response and threat. The most common words for courses only secondarily on terrorism were war, policy, security, conflict and history. Although the word “war” dominated both lists, it was more than two times as frequent in the descriptions for courses only secondarily on terrorism compared to those explicitly or primarily on the subject. “Peace”, while it occurred more rarely, was also more common in the descriptions for secondary courses. Terrorism perpetrated by states (“state terrorism”) was not a dominant topic in the courses explicitly on terrorism. The concept of state terror, however, did appear relatively often courses secondarily on terrorism (especially in history, in the context of terror perpetrated by Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and some Latin American regimes).

The two types of courses referred to the “war on terror” about equally often. They also placed terrorism in the context of “insurgency” about equally often. However, they differed in their relative emphases on many other topics. For example, there was much more emphasis in the primary courses on terrorism as a “threat” and the construct was more often framed in terms of “violence.” The words “Islam” and “Islamic” and the events of “9-11” were more prominent. There was a greater emphasis on “terrorist organizations.” There was also a greater emphasis on recent events such as “9/11” as opposed to the past (“history”). In addition, there was a more frequent focus on terrorism as “crime” and on immediate prescriptive measures such as “counterterrorism” and “response.”

By contrast, courses only secondarily on terrorism placed more emphasis on contexts of “conflict”. They placed less emphasis on direct “response” and greater emphasis on more reflective measures such as “intelligence” and “policy.” In addition, they framed the subject of terrorism in broader contexts, e.g. social and political “movements” rather than terrorist “organizations.” They referred more often to “ethics” and “morality” and to issues of “human rights.” In addition, they focused more often on other broad constructs and processes that might affect the emergence or manifestation of terrorism e.g. “ethnic” issues, “culture”, “religion”, “development”, “democracy”, “economics,” and “globalization.”

Required readings and scholarly focus. There was no evidence from the syllabi review of courses explicitly on terrorism that non-academic texts dominated the required course readings. Most of the courses had 1-3 textbook requirements. Of these, two out of three on average were from scholarly (academic) presses and only one out of three were from general publication presses. Almost all required 2-3 additional weekly readings in the form of scholarly articles from journals or chapters from books. Among these, works by ten of a “core” 42 researchers, identified by Reid and Chen [10] as dominating the field as of 2003, appeared at least once. However, with the exceptions of now classic papers and chapters by Bruce Hoffmann and by Martha Crenshaw, the most frequently required readings were produced by a newer group of scholars not on that list. [40] Almost all of the courses focused primarily on non-state terrorism. Only two provided full modules on state terrorism. There was no evidence, however, to support contentions made by advocates of Critical Terrorism Studies, that the concept of terrorism as a practice or phenomenon was not interrogated or challenged. Most (82%) contained a distinct module addressing the problem of defining terrorism. Fewer than half (40%) had a distinct module on bioterrorism and/or nuclear terrorism, but 70% had a module on suicide terrorism. About half (48%) emphasized case studies as a methodology in teaching.

 

Graduate Terrorism Courses

Number of Courses. Catalogue descriptions were more limited for graduate courses than for undergraduate courses. Within this constraint, data was available (if sometimes limited) for 76 of the 80 national universities. This set of data yielded 491 distinct graduate courses with terrorism content (in the title and/or text description of the course). Of these, 136 (28%) contained the word terrorism in the title and could be viewed as courses primarily on terrorism and the remaining 355 courses (72%) could be viewed as secondarily or more peripherally on the subject.

Compared to undergraduate programs, a lower proportion of the national universities studied offered at least one graduate course explicitly on terrorism (52% vs. 66%) and fewer (7 of 10 vs. 9 of 10) appeared to offer courses with any terrorism content. These differences may have been a function of the more limited number of institutions with available data, the more specialized missions of graduate programs [41] or simply an artifact of using catalogue descriptions. (At the graduate level, course descriptions are often more condensed; they may only refer generally to a seminar or independent study). As at the undergraduate level, the overall number of graduate courses varied widely, in this case from 1-18 courses.

Most primary terrorism courses. The graduate programs with the most courses primarily on terrorism are listed in Table 5. As at the undergraduate level, Georgetown dominated the list with 18 such courses, but 5 other graduate programs (including George Washington University, Johns Hopkins, University of Chicago, the University of Maryland College Park and Penn State) offered 6 or more courses and 13 institutions in all offered a core of 4 or more such courses. Most of these institutions (11 of 13) offered a security studies degree. Several hosted a terrorism related research center (TRC) and some (George Washington University, Northeastern, New York University, Penn State and U Maryland) offered both. These characteristics of the institutions help explain the higher number of primary courses. One or more terrorism courses may be required for a security degree or may fit into a terrorism research mission and the institution may decide to invest the time and resources to develop such courses.  In the case of Georgetown, where 7 of the 18 primary courses (39%) were law courses, this institution’s unique offerings in security law, international affairs and law and international human rights law may also have played a role in the number of primary graduate courses. [42]

Most courses overall. The graduate programs with the most courses overall (primary and secondary), identified from catalogue descriptions, are listed in Table 6. Among national universities Georgetown dominated the list, but several other private institutions (Harvard, New York University, George Washington University and Boston University) also showed very high numbers of courses with any terrorism content at all.  The exceptionally high number of courses found for Georgetown is likely to have been a function of two factors.  First, Georgetown (like Harvard, NYU and several other of the private institutions) offered longer (less condensed) course descriptions in its graduate course catalogues. As a result, it was easier to detect a large number of secondary courses with terrorism content. (Some of the public institutions may include as much or almost as much terrorism content in secondary courses, but it may not be identifiable in catalogue descriptions).   Second, Georgetown’s unique law offerings through its law center and its graduate programs in foreign service, as well as security studies and international affairs, are likely to have played a role. Twenty-eight (32%) of its 87 secondary terrorism courses (courses with terrorism content) were law courses, twenty (23%) were in security studies, 15 (17%) in government and international affairs and 11 (13%) were in its graduate foreign  service program.  Law courses also made up significant numbers of graduate courses with any terrorism content for American University (12 courses), University of Pennsylvania (9 courses), UCLA (9 courses), and Harvard (8 courses).

Ratio. On average, the ratio of secondary graduate courses to primary ones was similar to that at the undergraduate level (3:1). Again, however, graduate programs differed in these ratios. At some institutions (e.g. Harvard, Yale and University of Pennsylvania), secondary courses were 10-14 times as frequent as primary ones at the graduate level. At others, (e.g. the University of Maryland at College Park, Johns Hopkins and the University of Chicago) the reverse was the case and graduate courses explicitly on terrorism were seven times as frequent as courses only secondarily on the subject. These differences are likely to be a function of the broader missions of the former institutions and the more specialized offerings in security and terrorism in the latter. However, they could also be a function of differences in how much information is provided in catalogue descriptions.

table 5

Table 5 . Institutions with the most primary terrorism courses, graduate level

Notes: Based on study sample of graduate programs associated with 76 top-ranked national universities, 2010-2011. Primary terrorism courses defined as courses explicitly on terrorism, i.e. with the word “terrorism” in the title of the course. Includes graduate programs with 3 or more such courses. Courses with multiple sections and ones cross-listed across departments are only counted once.

table 6

Table 6. Institutions with 10 or more graduate courses on terrorism overall

Based on study sample of graduate programs associated with 76 top-ranked national universities, 2010-2011. Primary terrorism courses defined as courses explicitly on terrorism, i.e. with the word “terrorism” in the title of the course. Secondary terrorism courses defined as ones with the word “terrorism” only in the course description. Includes graduate programs with 3 or more such courses. This is a conservative listing since courses with multiple sections and ones cross-listed across departments are only counted once.

Institutional Predictors. Region and Security Studies were the only variables which accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in terrorism courses at the graduate level when all institutions (n=76) were considered. Examination of the residuals revealed one significant outlier for the number of terrorism courses (the numbers of explicit and all courses were 3 SD above the mean for the group) and the analysis was recalculated excluding that institution. The results of the regression analyses, excluding the outlier, are shown in Table 7. These results indicate that that when the other predictor variables were held constant, three variables (location in the Mid-Atlantic, the presence of a Security Studies program, and the presence of a Terrorism Research Center and) explained 43% of the variability in the number of primary terrorism courses. The same three variables, with the addition of regional location in the Northeast, explained 27% of the variability in all terrorism courses (primary and secondary).

table 7

Table 7. Stepwise regression of graduate terrorism courses by institutional characteristics

No. of institutions = 75. The dependent variables are the numbers of primary terrorism courses and all terrorism courses (primary and secondary). The following 8 variables were permitted to enter the regression: funding source, ranking, regional location, size of undergraduate student body, presence of a terrorism research center, security or peace studies degree or program and presence of at least one well-known terrorism scholar. The table shows variables in the final model with p <0.10.

Distribution of Courses. As shown in Figures 4 and 5, the field and disciplinary profiles of graduate terrorism courses differed in important ways from those at the undergraduate level. Much larger proportions of explicit (primary) courses were in the fields of Law and Criminal justice (43% vs. 6 %) while lower proportions were in the Social Sciences (27% vs. 52%) and humanities (6% vs. 17%). Surprisingly, considering the security image of Terrorism Studies, only 6% of graduate courses explicitly on terrorism could be classified as belonging in the field of Security or military studies. There were 3 times as many courses at the graduate level in other Professional fields e.g. health sciences, communications, urban planning, engineering (15% vs. 4%). Overall, these differences are in line with the more career-oriented focus of graduate degrees compared to undergraduate ones.

figure 4

Figure 4 . Distribution of graduate courses by academic field (primary courses only)

Note: Based on study sample of 76 national universities with graduate studies programs, 2010-2011.

Broken down by discipline (Figure 5), the highest numbers of courses explicitly on terrorism were in law and criminal justice (56) followed by international relations/studies (22), health sciences (12) and political science (11). Among graduate courses with any terrorism content in the text or title the highest numbers were in law and criminal justice (189), international relations or international studies (69), security (46) and the health sciences including public health (34). The high number of graduate terrorism courses in law and criminal justice compared to the social sciences in general may reflect a consensus at this level that terrorism is best addressed in terms of criminal and legal constructs (as opposed, for example, to political ones) or it may simply be a function of allocating more resources to develop courses in marketable career fields and fewer to less marketable research oriented ones. As at the undergraduate level, there were distinct disciplinary differences in the ratio of secondary courses to primary ones. For security studies the ratio was almost 5:1. However, for law and the health sciences it was closer to 3:1 while for international relations it was closer to 2:1.

figure 5

Figure 5 . Frequency of graduate terrorism courses by academic discipline

Notes: Based on study sample of 76 institutions with graduate programs; courses primarily on terrorism defined as courses with “terrorism” in title. Courses secondarily on terrorism defined as ones only with “terrorism in text of course description. Basic science includes biology, microbiology, engineering, space sciences. Health Sciences includes public health, nursing, and medicine.


Discussion

This study focuses on a relatively understudied area, namely the teaching component of Terrorism Studies. The study has several limitations. First, it is limited to one academic year (2010-2011). As such it only provides a snapshot at one point in time. Since university curricula change from year to year, inclusion of other years could have produced different results. There is good evidence that the number of university courses on terrorism exploded in the U.S. in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Gordon, for example reports that UCLA had 50 terrorism-related courses the following academic year. [43] The results presented here suggest that this trend may have moderated.

Second, the study is limited to a small sample of colleges and universities in the U.S. that are ranked at the top of the U.S. News and World Reports ranking system. Although these institutions have long been thought to set trends, the strength of their influence on other institutions in the U.S. and elsewhere is a matter of increasing debate. [44] Extension of the study to a wider range of colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad could have generated different results in terms of numbers and topics. A recent Homeland Security report lists as many as 56 academic institutions are currently addressing homeland security, defense and terrorism in their curricula. [45] Of these only four (Johns Hopkins, Penn State, University of Connecticut and University of Washington) are included in this study. Other reports estimate that as many as 271 higher education institutions offered Homeland Security degrees or certificates with content on terrorism in 2009. It is unclear whether the mix of courses in such programs would or would not mirror those in the study reported here. Some of these programs may offer certificate or graduate degrees that are more skills-oriented, targeted to combating terrorism. [46]  The frequency and mix of terrorism courses in European institutions may also differ significantly from the U.S. profile. [47]

Third, many terrorism courses are cross-listed across two or more departments. They may be listed under political science, but also under international relations, sociology or even religion. Course catalogues also frequently describe multiple sections of a course more than once. Since this study counted cross-listed courses and multiple sections only once, it has the potential to underestimate the overall frequency of courses on terrorism as well as the number in some disciplines.

Fourth, the results could have been distorted by the study’s use of text descriptions of courses on terrorism or with terrorism content in course catalogues. In a few cases, course descriptions were not available. Only titles of courses were provided. Additionally, some universities (e.g. Harvard) offered long and rich (3-4 paragraph) descriptions of each course. Others, especially very large universities, e.g. (Penn State, U California Berkeley) often gave only condensed (1-2 line) descriptions. These differences could have led to underestimation of the number of courses with terrorism content for some universities and may also have led to underestimation of key terms related to dominant topics.

Fifth, following recommendations made by Martha Crenshaw [48] and adopted by the Task Force on Political Violence and Terrorism of the American Political Science Association, terrorism content is now often subsumed in political science and international relations curricula under the rubric “political violence” and may not be visible in catalogue course descriptions in political science courses.

Despite these limitations, the study has several important strengths including its systematic approach, its inclusion of different types of higher education institutions (e.g. liberal arts colleges as well as national universities) and its effort to separate out courses uniquely on terrorism from those only secondarily on the subject at undergraduate and graduate levels.

Overall, the results suggest that top ranked academic institutions in the U.S. are visibly but still somewhat cautiously committed to offering content on terrorism in their curricula. While two-thirds of the national universities offered at least one distinct undergraduate course explicitly on terrorism and 52% offered at least one distinct graduate course, most offered only one or two courses specifically on terrorism in 2010-2011. For the most part, terrorism was addressed secondarily as one topic among other topics in courses on other subjects. This pattern was especially apparent in liberal arts colleges where the ratio of primary to secondary terrorism courses was 6:1 and at national universities with some of the highest US News and World Reports rankings (e.g. Harvard, Yale and Stanford) where the ratios of primary to secondary courses was at least 5:1.

Placing terrorism content in other courses may signal recognition that terrorism is still a contested concept [49] or reflect a tacit policy of “reticence” towards using the word terrorism in course titles because of its negative connotations and more specifically because it “implies a political judgment about the legitimacy of actors and their actions.” [50] On the other hand, departments and programs may place terrorism within courses on other subjects because they believe that the topic is best studied in the context of other constructs and problems (e.g. political violence) or because of the missions of individual institutions. (In the U.S., liberal arts colleges are generally committed to a broad education, but some of America’s national universities, including Harvard, Yale and Stanford, are multitier structures that have evolved to contain colleges with a broad mission and universities with more a more specialized focus.[51]).

About 20% (17/80) of the top-tier national universities studied here have clearly made a niche for undergraduate courses on terrorism. These institutions offer 4 or more courses explicitly on the subject. A slightly smaller proportion (17%) (13/76) of the graduate programs offered at least 4 distinct courses explicitly on terrorism.

The R squares for the exploratory stepwise regressions of institutional characteristics on the number of terrorism courses were low, indicating that the studied characteristics explained only a small percentage of the variability (24-43%) in the number of terrorism courses. This result is likely to be a function of the relatively small but diverse set of institutions used. It should not be taken to mean that the characteristics identified as relevant are meaningless. As James Colton and Keith Bower observe, a small R square indicates that not everything was explained, but a few important variables were identified.[52]

The presence of a well-known terrorism scholar showed the strongest associations and was significantly related to the number of explicit courses and to the number of courses with any terrorism content at the undergraduate level. This finding suggests that terrorism knowledge dissemination tends to be furthered when the knowledge producers are on campus. Institutional size was also identified as having an influence (large institutions were associated with more explicit terrorism courses). This result is likely to be a function of more resources in large institutions. Three other variables (the presence of a security studies or peace studies program and regional location in the Mid-Atlantic, near the nation's capitol) showed similar but non-significant effects for the number of explicit courses. The presence of a peace or peace and conflict studies program clearly enhanced the number of courses with any terrorism content (primary and secondary courses) for undergraduates. This finding was an interesting one given the growing and now sometimes contested coordination of activities between the peace and conflict and security sectors. [53]

At the graduate level, regional location in the Mid-Atlantic had the strongest effects on the number of explicit courses and all courses, but the presence of a security studies program and the presence of a Terrorism Research Center also showed significant independent effects enhancing the number of graduate terrorism courses overall. The high concentration of courses in the Mid-Atlantic is understandable since this region can more easily draw on security and policy experts in the nation’s capitol than institutions at a greater distance. There may also be greater demand in the mid-Atlantic since students (and faculty) see opportunities to influence terrorism policy when they are near the capitol. On the other hand, this heavy concentration in one region also speaks to the need for academic institutions at a greater distance from the capitol to develop more courses on terrorism and with terrorism content.  

Within the universities and colleges studied, there was wide variation across disciplines in the extent to which terrorism was treated as a primary or secondary course topic. In disciplines such as political science, international relations, communications and religion, primary courses (those with terrorism in the title) constituted 25-30% of all courses with any terrorism content. In history, however, courses primary courses constituted only about 14% of all courses with terrorism content. This distribution in history departments is unfortunate given growing criticism that Terrorism Studies have become too focused on contemporary terrorism and ignore valuable lessons of the past. [54]

On the other hand, the overall multi-disciplinarity of terrorism courses, explicit and peripheral, is encouraging. Terrorism research has previously been criticized for being too narrowly concentrated in a few disciplines, namely political science, international relations and security studies. The multi-disciplinary of terrorism research, however, may be one of its strengths. The results presented here on the teaching component of undergraduate Terrorism Studies bodes well for generating new cohorts of graduate students who may study the topic from a wide diversity of perspectives including anthropology, sociology, economics, philosophy, religion, peace studies, area studies, basic sciences and communications.

The perspective that the study of terrorism focuses too narrowly on terrorism “from below” (ignoring state terrorism) [10], "exceptionalizes 9/11" and so-called “Islamic” or “Islamist” terrorism and is overly prescriptive [55] was largely supported in the review of dominant topics in the texts of catalogue descriptions of courses explicitly (primarily) on terrorism. However, the results suggested that courses secondarily or more peripherally on the subject were more likely to frame terrorism in broader contexts incorporating “religion” in general (rather than Islam in particular) and other broad constructs such as “democracy”, “development” and “globalization.”

The syllabi review of undergraduate courses explicitly on terrorism indicated a strong emphasis on scholarly publications and wide readings well beyond the "core" once thought to dominate the field. There was no evidence from this review that courses explicitly on terrorism focused only or even predominantly on strategic threats or Osama bin Laden. Further, the presumption put forth recently by Dixit and Stump, that terrorism courses in the U.S. do not, as a rule, interrogate terrorism (i.e. question the assumptions behind the concept) [56] was not supported in this sample of syllabi from top-tier universities and colleges. In fact, the syllabi review indicated that 88% of the courses, even ones requiring the textbooks cited by Dixit and Strump, contained specific modules on the challenge of defining terrorism.

Going forward, what do the results mean for the academic development of Terrorism Studies? The evolution of “studies” programs into disciplines is a complex process in part because the concept of academic discipline is itself “neither simple nor undisputed.” [57] The term discipline as Krishnan points out, comes from the Latin word discipulus, which means pupil, and disciplina, which means teaching (noun). Krishnan observes that as a verb it means “training someone to follow a rigorous set of instructions, but also punishing and enforcing obedience.” As such, it has a moral dimension that “defines how people should behave or think.” At an academic level, disciplines are most often visibly associated with subjects taught at universities but usually have to meet five other criteria including the presence of 1) an object of research 2) a body of accumulated specialist knowledge 3) theories and concepts related to that knowledge 4) specific terminology 5) specific agreed on research methods. Not all disciplines meet all of the above criteria. English literature, for example, as Krishnan observes, “lacks a unifying theoretical paradigm or method and a definable stable object of research but still passes as an academic discipline.” Criminology too, although viewed as a discipline, lacks one “overarching theory that explains all the complexities of crime” and draws on a multiplicity of perspectives. [58] However, as Krishnan further points out, the more “boxes a discipline can tick, the more likely it becomes that a certain field of academic enquiry becomes a recognized discipline capable of reproducing itself and building upon a growing body of its own scholarship.” In general, when a discipline is called “studies”, it usually means that it “falls short of some of the above mentioned criteria.” Such studies disciplines can go on to discipline themselves or remain “undisciplined” as some studies programs (e.g. Women’s Studies) consciously chose to do in the 1970s.[ 59] Some studies programs may come to be perceived as disciplines as has happened with Peace & Conflict Studies.

Whether Terrorism Studies will or should go on to become a distinct discipline is still unclear. This study demonstrates that the field meets the minimum criterion of a taught subject. While debate continues about the ability of the subject to meet the other five criteria, the fact that content on terrorism is taught across so many disciplines suggests that it is still best constituted as an interdisciplinary field. Such fields, as Julie Thompson Klein points out, are well suited to the task of trying to “answer complex questions” and trying “to solve problems that are beyond the scope of any one discipline.” [60]  Although progression from multi-disciplinarity to inter-disciplinarity takes time and, in Klein’s words, requires moving through a series of stages (including “playing the old songs,” playing “the glass bead game” of building common jargon and finally coming to synthesis) an interdisciplinary paradigm may be particularly well suited to Terrorism Studies because of its potential to bridge the current divide between ‘mainstream’ and ‘Critical Terrorism Studies.’

 

Conclusion

The future of Terrorism Studies depends on generating new cohorts of scholars and the production of this cohort depends at least in part on the availability of teaching faculty and courses on terrorism. This study investigated the still relatively unstudied area of the curricular component of Terrorism Studies. Future research on the subject could be enhanced by extending investigations such as the current one to a larger range of colleges and universities in the U.S., by conducting cross-national studies of terrorism courses and programs, by looking at differences in traditional and newer online courses, and by examining changes in the frequency and dominant topics of terrorism courses over time. Studies over time, in particular, could help us better gauge the evolving state and maturity of the Terrorism Studies field. To further measure growth in institutional commitment and the unique relationship between teaching (knowledge dissemination) and research (knowledge production), data should be collected on the number of faculty, researchers and graduate students that different institutions send each year to national and international conferences (e.g. ISA) to present scholarly papers on the subject of terrorism. Since no two institutions or degree programs (nor the faculty within them) are alike, quantitative analyses such as the ones presented here should also be paired with thorough qualitative analyses to enrich our understanding of the field of Terrorism Studies and how it has evolved (and continues to evolve). In addition, since research can benefit from a better understanding of the challenges of teaching a subject, qualitative work on the experiences faced by faculty trying to clarify content on the subject to students is recommended.

 

About the Author: Ivan Sascha Sheehan is Assistant Professor and Director of the Negotiations and Conflict Management program at the College of Public and International Affairs at the University of Baltimore. He received his Ph.D. from the School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution at George Mason University. He has a B.A. in Political Science from Swarthmore College. He is the author of When Terrorism and Counterterrorism Clash: The War on Terror and the Transformation of Terrorist Activity (Cambria, 2007). He has taught courses on terrorism at George Mason University, the University of Massachusetts, Tufts University and the University of Baltimore. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

Notes

[1] Lisa Stampnitzy, “Disciplining an Unruly Field: Terrorism Experts and Theories of Scientific/Intellectual Production,” Qualitative Sociology 34, no.1 (2010): 1-19.

[2] Alex P. Schmid, “The Definition of Terrorism”, in Schmid, Alex P (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research (NY: Routledge, 2011), p. 39-99.

[3] Andrew Silke, Research on Terrorism: Trends, Achievements and Failures (NY: Routledge, 2004).

[4] David Martin Jones and M.L.R. Smith, “The Commentariat and Discourse Failure: Language and Atrocity in Cool Britannia,” International Affairs 82 (2006): 1117-112

[5] See Richard Jackson, “The Ghosts of State Terror: Knowledge, Politics and Terrorism Studies,” Paper presented at the International Studies Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, USA, 2008. Full paper available at: http://www.allacademic.com//meta/p mla apa research citation/ 2/5/2/9/0/pages252900/p252900-1.php

[6] See L. J. Daniels, and G.L. Epstein, “Department of Homeland Security, American Association for the Advancement of Science, AAAS Report XXXVI, Research and Development FY 2012.” Available at: http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/rdreport2012; DHS funding, although high in 2003, was cut dramatically in 2007. The budget was increased in 2009 and 2010, then decreased by 10% in 2011 with university programs expected to experience a 19% drop from $49 million in FY 2010 to $40 million in FY2011 eliminating one or more university COEs and cutting $600,000 from scholarship and fellowship funding.

[7] Alex P. Schmid, Political Terrorism: A Research Guide to Concepts, Theories, Data Bases and Literature. With a Bibliography by the Author and a World Directory of ‘Terrorist’ Organizations by A.J. Jongman (Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1984.revised in 1988 and reprinted in 2005). See also Alex P. Schmid (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research (NY: Routledge, 2011).

[8] Martha Crenshaw, “Current Research on Terrorism: the Academic Perspective.” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 15 (1992): 1-11.

[9] Edna Reid, “Evolution of a Body of Knowledge: An Analysis of Terrorism Research,” Information Processing and Management 33, no.1 (1997): 91-106.

[10] Edna Reid and Hsinchun Chen ,“Mapping the Contemporary Terrorism Research Domain,” International Journal Human-Computer Studies 65 (2007): 42-56.

[11] Andrew Silke. “The Devil You Know: Continuing problems with research on terrorism,” Terrorism and Political Violence 13 (2001): 1-14.

[12] Edna Reid and H. Chen, “Domain mapping of contemporary terrorism research,” in H. Chen, E Reid, J. Sinai, A. Silke and B. Ganor (eds.), Terrorism Informatics: Knowledge Management and Data Mining for Homeland Security (New York: Springer, 2008), p. 3-26.

[13] Magnus Ranstorp. Mapping Terrorist Research: State of the Art, Gaps and Future Directions (London: Rutledge, 2006).

[14] Richard Jackson, Marie Breen Smyth and Jeroen Gunning, Critical Terrorism Studies: A New Research Agenda (NY: Routledge, 2009).

[15] An exception is the work of Avishag Gordon. See, for example, A. Gordon, “Terrorism as an Academic Subject after 9/11: Searching the Internet Reveals a Stockholm Syndrome Trend.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 28 (2005): 45-59.

[16] Huberman, Michael, “The Mind is its Own Place: The Influence of Sustained Interactivity with Practitioners on Educational Researchers,” Harvard Educational Review 69, no. 3 (1999): 289-319.

[17] As Schmid and Jongman pointed out in a 1988 review, as many as 109 definitions had been floated by the mid-1980s. See Alex P. Schmid and Albert J. Jongman, Political Terrorism: A New Guide to Actors, Authors, Concepts, Databases, Theories and Literature (New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1988).

[18] More recently Joseph J. Easson and Alex P. Schmid have calculated that academic, governmental and intergovernmental agencies are using 250 or more definitions of terrorism. See “Appendix 2.1. 250-plus  Academic, Governmental and Intergovernmental Definitions of Terrorism,” in Schmid, Alex P. (ed.) “The Definition of Terrorism”, The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research (NY: Routledge, 2011),  39-99.

[19] Audrey Kurth Cronin,  “Behind the Curve Globalization and International Terrorism.” International Security 27, no. 3 (2002/2003): 30-58.

[20] See Avishag Gordon, “The Effects of Database and Website Inconstancy on the Terrorism Field’s Delineation,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 27, no. 2 (2004): 79-88.

[21] According to Silke, as many as 2,281 nonfiction books with “terrorism” in the title were published from September 2001 to September 2008. In comparison, prior to September 2001, only 1,310 such books had been published. See Andrew Silke, “Contemporary Terrorism Studies: Issues in Research,” in R. Jackson, M.B. Smith and J. Gunnings (eds.) Critical Terrorism Studies: A New Research Agenda (Abingdon: Routledge) 2009, 234.

[22]  “9/11 generates growth of homeland security college programs,” Homeland Security News Wire, 8 Sep 2011, available at http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/911-generates-growth-homeland-security-college-programs

[23] Today, according to data from the Naval Post Graduate School and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security there are as many as 342 homeland security degree or certificate programs at 260 US Colleges and Universities. See http://www.chds.us/?partners/institutions . Of these, 84 are bachelors programs, 89 are masters programs, 117 are certificate programs and 5 are doctoral programs in homeland security or a related field e.g. biodefense strategic security or emergency risk management. See “Colleges and Universities Offering Homeland Security Programs,” Available at http://www.chds.us/?partners/institutions

[24] Benjamin Freedman, “Terrorism Research Centres: 100 Institutes, Programs and Organisations in the Field of Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Radicalisation and Asymmetric Warfare Studies,” Perspectives on Terrorism 4, no. 5 (2010). Available at: http://www.terrorismanalysts.com/pt/index.php/pot/article/view/123

[25] DHS funding for university programs is proposed to be budgeted in FY 2012 at $36.6 million, $29 million or 44% less than its FY 2010 budget. See L. J. Daniels and G.L. Epstein, Department of Homeland Security, American Association for the Advancement of Science, AAAS Report XXXVI, Research and Development FY 2012. Available at http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/rdreport2012o

[26] See “Homeland Security Centers of Excellence” for a current listing of the 12 designated Centers of Excellence,  Available at http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/editorial_0498.shtm

[27] See “Higher Education in a post 9/11 World,” Q & A with Jason Lane (Department of Educational Administration & Policy Studies, University of Albany), Sep 8, 2011. Available at: http://www.albany.edu/news/16124.php

[28] Andrew Silke, “The Impact of 9/11 on Research on Terrorism,” In  Magnus Ranstorp (ed.) Mapping Terrorism Research: State of the Art, Gaps and Future Direction (NY: Routledge, 2007),  91.

[29] Richard Jackson, “The Case for Critical Terrorism Studies,” European Political Science 6 (2007): 225–227.

[30] In 1997, Edna Reid, using online bibliometrics and citation analysis, put forward a theory, that terrorism research was dominated by “invisible colleges of pro-western terrorism researchers” generating a one-sided perspective of terrorism from below (See footnote 9). In 2007, Reid and Chen, using ISI Web of Science citation data, published an updated list of 42 “core terrorism researchers” that they determined to be influential knowledge producers in the field as of 2003 (See footnote 10). More recently, the authors have republished this list of “core” researchers, as of 2003, in book form. See Chin, Hsinchun, Reid, Edna, Sinai, Joshua, Silke, Andrew and Ganor, Boaz, Terrorism Informatics: Knowledge Management and Data Mining for Homeland Security (Springer, 2008).

[31] U.S. News and World Reports provides annual rankings of more than 1,600 accredited U.S. institutes of higher learning. These rankings include 281 national universities, 250 liberal arts colleges, 996 regional colleges and universities and 81 specialty schools. Their rankings are based on a weighted formula that uses seven broad indicators: peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity (e.g. admission test scores), financial resources and alumni giving.

[32] See Philip G. Altbach, "The University as Center and Periphery", in: Teachers College Record 82 (Summer, 1981): 601-622. Altbach’s conception of center-periphery influence was developed in the context of international education but has often been used “to explain” domestic trends.

[33] See Burton Clark, “Faculty: Differentiation and Dispersion,” In Arthur Levine (ed.), Higher Learning in America 1980:2000 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), 175.

[34] See “Colleges and Universities Offering Homeland Defense and Security” prepared by Naval Post Graduate School and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Available at: http://www.chds.us/?partners/institutions

[35] See “Listing of Colleges/Universities with Peace Studies Programs” prepared by Pilgrim Pathways. Available at: http://pilgrimpathways.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/colleges-and-universities-with-peace-studies-programs/

[36] Google Scholar citations have been found to be significantly correlated with ISI citations but tend to be more comprehensive for the social sciences. See Kayvan Kousha and Mike Thewall, “Google Scholar citations and Google Web/URL citations: A multi-discipline exploratory analysis,” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 58, no. 7 (2007): 1055-1065.

[37] The Text Analysis tool is available online at University of Illinois at Urbana website at http://mste.illinois.edu/pavel/java/text

[38] The 7 institutions designated as Centers of Excellence in the sample included George Washington U, Johns Hopkins, Northeastern, Texas A&M, U Maryland College Park, U North Carolina and UC Berkeley. See Department of Homeland Security (DHS) listing of Designated Centers of Excellence. Available at: http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/editorial_0498.shtm

[39] Among the terrorism scholars identified using the Google Scholar search of authors with 75+ citations for articles, chapters or books on terrorism and matched with institutions were: R.K. Betts and B. Nacos (Columbia); B. Hoffman, D. Byman, P. Pillar, F. Moghaddam (Georgetown); L. Richardson, J. Stern, P. Norris, G. Allison, B. Posen (Harvard); J. Mueller (Ohio State); J. Horgan, M. Bloom, J.A. Piazza (Penn State); A. Krueger (Princeton); L.R. Beres (Purdue); M. Crenshaw, S. Flynn (Stanford); Q. Li (Texas A&M); B. de Mesquita, R. Pape (U Chicago); C. Flint (U Illinois Urbana); T.R. Gurr (University of Maryland); S. Atran (U North Carolina Chapel Hill); G.A. Lopez (U Notre Dame); A. Kydd (U Pennsylvania); T. Sandler (U Southern California); A. Pedazhur, R. Adams (U Texas Austin); V. Volkan (U Virginia); M. Stohl (UC Santa Barbara); D. Rapoport (UCLA); R.D. Howard, R. Sawyer, J.F. Forest, J.M. Brachman,.

[40] These frequently required readings included journal articles and chapters by Mark Jurgensmeyer, Marc Sageman, Robert Pape, Russell Howard, Reid Sawyer and Natasha Bazjema, Alan Krueger and Ahmed Rashid among others.

[41] See Burton Clark. The Higher Education System: Academic Organization in Cross-National Perspective (Berkeley University of California Press, 1986), 51.

[42] Georgetown’s graduate law program offers specific degrees including JD/LLM and LLM in National Security Law, International Affairs and Law and International Human Rights Law.

[43] A. Gordon (see note 15 above).

[44] In recent years, relevance of the center-periphery concept has undergone re-examination in the context of the changing nature of academic work, faculty flows and commodification of knowledge. See S. Gopinathan and Philip Altbach, “Rethinking Centre-Periphery,” Asia Pacific Journal of Education 24, no. 2 (2005): 117-123. Internationally, the concept is also increasingly being challenged for overestimating “central hegemony” and underestimating the agency of local actors. See Thi Kim Quy Nguyen , “Beyond Center Periphery Higher Education Development in South East Asia,” Journal of the Pacific Circle Consortium for Education 22, no. 2 (2010): 21-36.

[45] The Emergency Management Network, “U.S. Homeland Security/Defense & Terrorism Higher Education Programs,” Available at:  http://www.emergencymgt.net/homelandsecurityprograms.html

[46] Cheryl Polson, John Persyn, and Shawn Capp. “Partnership in Progress: A Model for Development of a Homeland Security Graduate Degree Program,” Homeland Security Affairs: The Journal of the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security 4, no. 2 (2010). Available at: http://www.hsaj.org/?fullarticle=6.2.3 - fn4

[47] See David Martin Jones and M.L.R. Smith, “Terrorology and Methodology: A Reply to Dixit and Strump,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 34 (2011): 512-522.

[48] See Martha Crenshaw, “Current Research on Terrorism: the Academic Perspective,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 15, no. 1 (1992): 1-11. See more information on the Task Force in Political Violence and Terrorism of the American Political Science Association at http://www.apsanet.org/content_15710.cfm

[49] Alex P. Schmid. Letter from the Editor, Perspectives on Terrorism 3, no. 2 (2009). Available at: http://www.terrorismanalysts.com/pt/index.php/pot/article/view/64/html

[50] See R. Jackson who describes “Critical Terrorism Studies” as characterized, ontologically by a “general skepticism towards, a resultant reticence to employ, the ‘terrorism’ label’ because in practice “this label has always been a pejorative rather than analytical term and thus to use the term is to apply a label that implies a political judgment about the legitimacy of actors and their actions.” Richard Jackson, “The Case for Critical Terrorism Studies,” Paper prepared for delivery at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, August 30-September 2, 2007. Available at: http://cadair.aber.ac.uk/dspace/bitstream/handle/2160/1945/APSA-2007-Paper-final2.pdf?sequence=1

[51] See Burton Clark above, 51.

[52] James A. Colton and Keith M. Bower, “Some Misconceptions about R2”, International Society of Six Sigma Professionals, EXTRAOrdinary Sense 3, no. 2 (2002): 20-22.

[53] Ivan Sascha Sheehan, “Conflict Transformation as Counterinsurgency: Implications for the Management of Terrorism: Is the Concept of Conflict Transformation Being Misappropriated?” Working Paper, presented at International Studies Association 53rd Annual Convention, San Diego California, April 2, 2012.

[54] See A. Silke (see note 21 above). See also Ruth Blakeley, “Bringing the State Back into Terrorism Studies,” European Political Science 6, no. 3 (2007): 228-236

[55] See Louise Richardson, What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat (New York: Random House, 2006), 185.

[56] Priya Dixit and Jacob Stump, “A Response to Jones and Smith: It’s Not as Bad as it Seems; Or, Five Ways to Move Critical Terrorism Studies Forward,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 34 (2011): 501-511

[57] Ellen Messer-Davidow, David R. Shumway, Knowledges: Historical and Critical Studies in Disciplinarity (University of Virginia Press, 1993), 206.

[58] See Suzette Cote, Criminological Theories: Bridging the Past to the Future (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc., 2002).

[59] Armin Krishnan, “What are Academic Disciplines? Some Observations on the Disciplinarity vs. Interdisciplinarity Debate,” NCRM Working Paper, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) National Centre for Research Methods, March 2009. Available at: http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/783/1/what_are_academic_disciplines.pdf

[60] Julie Thompson Klein, Interdisciplinarity: History, Theory, and Practice (Detroit: Wayne State University, 1990), 11.

 

 

 



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