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Keywords:

  • teaching;
  • methodology;
  • terrorism;
  • political violence;
  • novels;
  • films;
  • role-playing

This article is an attempt to assess what a stimulating and serious course on terrorism should and should not be. The article is divided into three sections. The first examines the profusion of academic literature on terrorism, particularly with regard to providing students with the tools to separate the wheat from the chaff. At the heart of this section is a call to return to the literature on political violence and collective action in order to more effectively ascertain the intellectual, social, environmental, and cognitive mechanisms that lead people to rebel and act violently. The second section explores how nonacademic literature or nontraditional teaching materials can usefully supplement the literature mentioned above and, particularly, in preparing students to engage with primary sources. The final section outlines how and why role-playing can be used. The authors conclude that teaching terrorism should be a matter of cross-disciplinary fertilization in order to reduce the uncertainty created by the word terrorism, which overshadows current practice and precludes proper attention being paid to the social, political, and psychological mechanisms of political violence.