Issues in Terrorism and Counterterrorism

Open to students entering grades 9 through 12 or freshman year of college in the fall
III - August 10th – August 14th, 2020
Days & Time:
Monday–Friday, 10:10 a.m.–12:00 p.m. and 2:10–4:00 p.m.
Alexander de la Paz

“I really enjoyed how the class was discussion-oriented, as it allowed me to ask questions and form my own perspective on key issues.” – Logan A. | New Hope, Pennnsylvania 

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to central debates about terrorism and how it can and should be combatted. We begin with a general overview of debates about terrorism and its definition. We then explore four major debates about terrorism and counterterrorism policy, namely:

  • Root causes and effectiveness: What are the root causes of terrorism? When, if ever, is terrorism an effective strategy?
  • War and crime: Is counterterrorism generally best approached on the model of law enforcement? When, if ever, is counterterrorism best approached on the model of war? What are the pros and cons of each approach? This unit will focus on the debate about targeted killings in the United States and Israel.
  • Torture: Is the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” ever justified? Do the exigencies of counterterrorism require that certain techniques be brought within the bounds of the law? This unit will focus on debates in the United States and more recently in Israel.
  • Surveillance: How should counterterrorism policy strike a balance between security and privacy? This unit will focus on recent debates about surveillance programs in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Course materials draw widely from political science, law, political philosophy, declassified documents, journalism, and film. Class time is divided between lectures in the morning session and discussions and activities, including debates, in the afternoon session.


Alexander de la Paz

Alexander de la Paz is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science and a Cordier Fellow in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. His research interests span political and moral psychology, coercion, political violence, and international law and ethics. His dissertation examines the problem of "human shields" in war. He has served as an instructor and teaching assistant for a number of courses on international relations and human rights.

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Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.