An Interdisciplinary Course


History 222

Psychology 222

Sociology 222

Political Science 222

Class Meets: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 2:00 – 3:50 p.m., in C-222 (West Charleston).

Course Description: This interdisciplinary course focuses on the motivations for terrorism and political violence. It primarily addresses the question, “What makes an otherwise ordinary person deliberately attack unarmed civilians who have personally done the perpetrator no wrong?” The course approaches the issue from four different academic perspectives: history, psychology, sociology, and political science (and a little economics). Each of these disciplines, and others, have something to contribute to explaining and understanding terrorism and offer prescriptions on how to deal with it.

Course Purpose: The purpose of this course is to provide students with a firm base of knowledge concerning historical and contemporary acts of terrorism. The course is divided into four components, each representing an important key to understanding terrorism and political violence. As you will learn during this course, each component can be analyzed separately, but they work together to produce terrorism. Each component’s instructor was selected based on specialization, training, experience and knowledge. There may also be guest speakers during the term who have notable experience and/or expertise.

Course Objectives: By the end of the course, students should understand and be able to articulate answers to the following general questions:

1. What exactly is terrorism? How does a terrorist differ from a soldier or a “freedom fighter?”

2. What is the general history of terrorism: how it has evolved over time & what are its effects?

3. What are the basic differences between revolutionary, ideological, religious, and other motives?

4. What are the historical, psychological, sociological, & political engines that motivate terrorists?

5. Why do people join groups dedicated to terrorism and become transformed by them?

6. Why has the West, especially the USA, been the primary target of ideological and religious terrorism?

7. What are the optimal political, economic, psychological & sociological strategies for fighting terror?




Instructor: Dr. William Eric Davis (A.S., B.S., M.A., Ph.D).

Office: West Charleston:E-120 [campus mail sort code = W10E].

Office Hours: MW 10:00 – 11:00 AM; and MW 1:00 – 2:30 PM.

Office Phone: (702) 651-5675

E-mail address:

Faculty Webpage: (then click on the terror course link)



Instructor: Dr. David A. Lott [A.A., B.A., M.A., Ph.D]

Office: Cheyenne Campus, 1064-I [Campus Mail Sort Code = S1E]

Office Hours: TBA

Phone: (702) 651-4126

E-mail address:



Instructor: Dr. David A. Lott [A.A., B.A., M.A., Ph.D]

Office: Cheyenne Campus, 1064-I [Campus Mail Sort Code = S1E]

Office Hours: TBA

Phone: (702) 651-4126

E-mail address:



Instructor: Dr. William Eric Davis (A.S., B.S., M.A., Ph.D).

Office: West Charleston, E-120 [campus mail sort code = W10E].

Office Hours: MW 10:00 – 11:00 AM; and MW 1:00 – 2:30 PM.

Phone: (702) 651-5675

E-mail address:

Faculty Webpage: (then click on the terror course link).


  • Bruce Hoffman,Inside Terrorism (2006). New York: ColumbiaUniversity Press. Paperback. ISBN = 0-231-12699-9.
  • Michael Parenti, Against Empire (1995). San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books. ISBN (paperback) 0-87286-298-4.
  • Michael Parenti, The Terrorism Trap: September 11 and Beyond (2002). San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books. ISBN (paperback) 0-87286-405-7.
  • Audrey Kurth Cronin and James M. Ludes (eds)., Attacking Terrorism: Elements of a Grand Strategy.WashingtonD.C.: GeorgetownUniversity Press. Paperback. ISBN = 0-87840-347-7.

The textbooks are required and available at the West Charleston campus bookstore. Instructors may assign or put additional items on reserve in the library as supplemental reading but they may also be made available for downloading from a faculty webpage. Students are strongly encouraged to read the assigned material prior to the class meeting when related topics are discussed. It is also wise to take notes on the reading assignments before coming to class. This minimizes the need to try and write everything down during lectures. This practice is more conducive to learning because more time can be spent listening and discussing during class periods rather than writing.

EXAMS: There will be four (4) exams including the final exam. Each exam will cover a particular component of the course (history, psychology, sociology, and politics). Exams are spaced approximately four (4) weeks apart (see exact dates below). The exams may be essay, short answer, multiple choice or some combination thereof. The format of an exam will be determined by the instructor for that component. The exams will draw mostly from lectures, and to a lesser extent from the textbooks, videos, and any supplementary material that has been assigned.

  • Make-up exams will NOT be given except in cases of medical emergencies, official college functions or similar situations. In such cases, documentation is required (e.g., doctor’s note on letterhead indicating the illness was serious enough to miss an exam, a letter from an ROTC commander that you have been called up for service, an official police report from a traffic accident, a jury summons, etc.). In the case of an official college function (like a sporting event for which you must be a participant), I will speak to the coaching staff, athletic director, or other relevant officials personally. Other documentation will be followed up on as well.
  • Anyone that is more than 10 minutes late for an exam will NOT be allowed to take it and makeup exams are given only in the case of significant and properly documented circumstances. To be eligible to take a makeup exam, “official” documentation must be provided to the instructor for approval as described immediately below.
  • Any makeup exams that are permitted are given at the end of the term and are essay exams. They tend to be more challenging because they are not the same exams taken by the rest of the class and they cover the entire course. Accordingly, you really do not want to miss an exam or be late for an exam. It is better to be 30 minutes early than a minute late. If the exam dates and times are not practical, do NOT take this course. If you do not like to read, do not take this course.
  • Early exams are NEVER given under any circumstance.

PAPERS: There are two brief term paper assignments for this course as outlined below:

DAVIS PAPER (PAPER A): This assignment requires students to prepare a THREAT ASSESSMENT REPORT (T.A.R.) on a known and currently active terror group. The student chooses the group, but Al Qaeda is off limits. Students may, however, choose any terror group that Al Qaeda sponsors financially, logistically, or otherwise.

  • This paper assignment comes in two parts: (1) the brief T.A.R. which is approximately two pages of a spreadsheet for which the instructor will provide using Al Qaeda as an example; and (2) the narrative summary, which is approximately 5 pages double spaced which is to be attached to the Threat Assessment Report. Thus, this paper assignment calls for a total of about 5-7 pages (not including cover page, references pages, appendixes and other material).

LOTT PAPER (PAPER B): This assignment requires students to integrate their understanding of the subject matter comprising both components 2 and 3 of the course. Note: Students must develop their responses by utilizing class lecture notes and reading assignments presented in components 2 and 3 of the course only. Students may integrate parts 1 and 2 listed below; however students are required to address both parts 1 and 2 of this assignment. This paper must be at least 5 pages in length, typed and double spaced.

  1. Explain terrorist activities and the use of terrorist tactics by articulating the broader behavioral patterns and practices that ultimately compel such violent acts. Students must clearly identify the most determining factors that combine to generate these human actions.
  1. All explanations in the social sciences must be supported by a robust body of factual evidence in order to be considered “true.” Therefore, in order to support their truth claim regarding terrorist operations, this assignment requires that students provide at least onefactually detailed exampledrawnfrom our study of real world events.

ATTENDANCE POLICY: Attendance is mandatory but no extra points are provided for it. However, two points may be deducted by a component instructor (at his discretion) from the course grade for each unauthorized absence. Students are expected to come to class and to be on time. Failure to do so is an indicator that the student does not take the course seriously. Attendance will be checked randomly at the start of class, at some point during class, or at the end of class.

  • Authorized absences include those that are unavoidable and for which the reasons are documented (by a police report in the case of an accident, a letter from ROTC commander in the case of military duty, etc,).
  • It will count as an absence if a student is not present when his or her name is called. Students that sleep, read books or papers, are not attentive, talk to other students in a disruptive manner, or work on homework during class will be counted as absent and will be required to leave the classroom. Multiple violations will cause a dismissal from the course. If other chores are a greater priority, it is better to not come to class so that you can take care of them.
  • Absences should be cleared with the instructor in advance if possible. Entering class late is disruptive to other tuition-paying students and disrespectful to instructors. If you are more than 10 minutes late, do not attend that class. If you are less than 10 minutes late, you may enter and sit in the back (cause as little disruption as possible) but you will not be credited with being present if roll has already been called.
  • College level students are expected to exercise self-discipline and come to class (and to be prepared for class). Employers will expect punctuality and punish it far more severely than college instructors. There is a very strong correlation between attendance and grades. Instructors do NOT make notes available to students.
  • The instructor will not withdraw students from the course after the official college deadline without prior agreement between the student and instructor. It is the responsibility of students to be aware of all deadlines (exam, paper, withdrawal, etc.) and, if desired, to officially withdraw from the course before deadlines expire. Students who stop coming to class without officially withdrawing will receive a zero on all missed exams and assignments and the course grade will be calculated accordingly.
  • Students should take all bathroom breaks before or after class except in the case of an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirement. Notify instructors of such issues at the start of the term so that no penalty is incurred for course violations.
  • Students should remain for the entire class period. This indicates that the student considers his or her education to be a priority and leaving class early is disrespectful and a disturbance to other tuition-paying students. If you know you will have to leave early, make sure you sit at the back that day and cause as little disturbance as possible when you leave.

HONOR CODE: Dishonesty is more than simple lack of respect for the instructor. It is an affirmative act of disrespect. The instructors will not tolerate it in any form. Cheating, plagiarism and other related violations of the honor code will result in an F for the course and the case turned over to the Office of Student Conduct for additional action in accordance with college policy along with the instructor’s recommendation for permanent expulsion. Students are required to be familiar with the honor code and the code of student conduct. Students are expected to know the definition of plagiarism (note: “plagiarism” does not require the intent to deceive). Every term a few students are caught cheating or plagiarizing. The course instructors for this course check papers with various software utilities to detect plagiarism. Dr. Davis is also familiar with practically all of the ways to cheat on exams and papers. He teaches workshops to other faculty on detecting and preventing cheating/plagiarism. He is considered an acknowledged expert on the subject. Do not cheat…it is not worth it and you only rob yourself of knowledge and the potential to keep a job.

DISABILITY STATEMENT: Any student with a physical or learning disability may make arrangements for physical assistance and/or lecture notetakers and to make alternative arrangements for exams. See class schedule for specific information regarding the process, or contact the Disability Resource Center in the student center of each campus. You may also obtain information through the college website at . The phone numbers for each campus are:

  • Cheyenne: 651-4045
  • Henderson: 651-3086
  • W. Charleston: 651-5089

Students that would like to earn a little extra cash can stop by the DisabilityResourceCenter to fill out a job interest card. The DRC office hires students as notetakers, readers, proctors, scribes, lab assistants, and research assistants as needed.

SAFETY STATEMENT: In each classroom and hallway you will find instructions on how to deal with various emergency situations (fire, earthquake, bio-hazards, etc.). You should make yourself familiar with these instructions as soon as possible and certainly before such an event occurs.

COURSE CONDUCT: Avoid talking to other students during lecture as it distracts the instructor and disturbs others who are listening. Remember thatyour fellow students are paying for the course and they did not agree to pay for distractions. Before class begins turn off all cell phones, beepers, and other devices that have the potential to make noise (including laptops if sound is enabled). If your cell phone or beeper goes off in class, do not answer it, just turn it off. If you forget to turn it off and it rings, do not answer it. If you do you will be asked to leave the class and not return until the next class meeting. Two violations will result in permanent suspension from the course. It is difficult in a class room full of people to hear if one or more persons are creating a disturbance. The instructor has the right to require that any student leave the class or course if creating a disturbance. The instructor may call security if said student refuses to comply.

GRADING POLICY: The required course components, relevant dates, and course values are listed below:

EXAM 1 – History / Tuesday, February 17 / 100 points
EXAM 2 – Psychology / Tuesday, March 17 / 100 points
PAPER A – Threat Report / Tuesday, March 17 / 100 Points
EXAM 3 – Sociology / Tuesday, April 14 / 100 points
PAPER B – Psych/Soc. Paper / Tuesday, May 12 / 100 Points
EXAM 4 – Political Science / Tuesday, May 12 / 100 Points

Note: that Exam 2 is given on the same day that Paper A is due and that Exam 4 (the final) is given on the same day that Paper B is due.

The final course grade is calculated as follows: The final course grade is a percentage. It is the number of points earned divided by the total possible points that could be earned.

  • You can earn a maximum of 600 points in this course. The points you actually earn will be a percentage of that value. So, let's say you have the following distribution of grades:

EXAM 1 = 95

EXAM 2 = 90

EXAM 3 = 82

EXAM 4 = 87

PAPER A = 92

PAPER B = 80

  • This would give you a total of 526 points out of a possible 600.
  • The value of 526 divided by 600 = .877 (rounded). The value .877 times 100 (in order to convert to a percentage) is 87.7, which rounds to an 88. This is a "B-plus" for the course as indicated by the scale below. This same value is obtained if you were to simply average the grades (the sum of your 4 exam scores and 2 paper grades divided by 6).
  • There will be no extra credit assignments available.

Course letter grades are determined in accord with the following scale:

A+ = 97 – 100 / B+ = 87 - 89 / C+ = 77 - 79 / D+ = 67 - 69 / F = < 60
A = 94 – 96 / B = 84 - 86 / C = 74 - 76 / D = 64 - 66
A- = 90 – 93 / B- = 80 - 83 / C- = 70 - 73 / D- = 60 - 63 / Rounding @ .5

Note: A grade of “A+” will be given if it is earned, but CSN does not report an A+ on grade reports or transcripts (but CSN does report B+, C+ and D+).The highest letter grade you can get on your transcript (and factored in for the purpose of calculating a grade point average) is an A.Despite this rule, an “A +” is given when it is earned and remains in the instructor’s files for the purpose of writing letters of recommendation.

INCOMPLETES & WITHDRAWALS: Students who want an incomplete must request it from the professor in writing with all course information on it (i.e., course name & number, semester, reason for incomplete, etc.) and with the student’s original signature on it. The instructor may or may not approve an incomplete. Withdrawals after the deadline are at the instructor’s discretion. A college policy forbids withdrawals after the deadline that are due to poor course performance.

DISCLAIMER: The instructor may make changes to the syllabus or course policy during the term by via announcement. A revised syllabus may be issued at the discretion of the instructor.

CLASSMATE CONTACTS: Discover the name and contact information for 3 classmates and put it below.

Name: ______. Phone: ______. Email: ______.

Name: ______. Phone: ______. Email: ______.

Name: ______. Phone: ______. Email: ______.


Note: The following reading assignments are mostly from the textbooks and other assigned reading material. The instructors reserve the right to alter the course calendar below without notice. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of deadlines, exam dates, holiday breaks, and so forth. The course is designed to allow approximately four (4) weeks for each of the components listed below.



Reading Assignments:

  • Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism.

~ Chapter 1: “Defining Terrorism.” (pp. 1-41).