The Core Curriculum requires that the courses within it support students’ skill enhancement in the Core Objectives. Objectives assigned to this course include:
Critical thinking; Communication; Empirical and Quantitative Skills; and Social Responsibility.
The signature assignment in this course is an assigned research paper designed to provide an opportunity for you to demonstrate each of these core objective skills
in one project. You will communicate your skill level in the interpretation and use of data and report its impact on your personal conclusions about a topic within the
field of study. This paper will require thinking critically about theory in the context of the data as you discover and answer questions such as this one.
Â· Does the theory still appear to be a valid explanation of the phenomenon?
Â· Does the data make an alternate explanation more likely?
Â· Finally, the paper will give you an opportunity to express the impact of conclusions drawn within this paper on your perception of your own social
. Specifically, you should consider the impact of your choices on the rest of society and the proper placement of group boundaries around and influence
upon your choices.
You will demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively by writing a college-level paper addressing each of these objectives and including proper citations
within the body of the work and at the end of the work. Citations should be in proper APA (American Psychological Association) style format.
The paper requires you to specify a problem to study, identify a theoretical explanation of that problem, collect information from empirical sources on the current
state of the problem, and critically assess the theory in light of what you find. The paper should have the following basic outline:
Introduction to the theory and statement of the problem.
Why do people join terrorist groups? Are these people different from the rest of us in some important, identifiable way? If so, can we identify the roots of these
differences and explain them using sociological and/or psychological theory? Your investigation of this topic is not meant to be expansive or all- inclusive. Finding
and investigating a part of the puzzle can still be a valuable contribution to our understanding. You may even wish to choose one or more individual cases and present
your investigation of the sociological or psychological forces that motivated them to join a terrorist group. Alternatively, you may wish to focus on a particular
terrorist group and the members attracted to it.
Begin by reading and watching some of the background resources provided below to familiarize yourself with the scope of the problem and some explanations that have
been offered by others.
Then, begin the process of reducing your topic to a manageable size. Within this narrowed scope of your investigation, identify a particular
theory that you think may help explain the case(s) under study. As you investigate whether or not the theory identified is an adequate explanation for some part of the
problem, present your logical conclusions with their associated evidence.
For example, if you approach this problem sociologically, you may hypothesize that Rational Choice Theory, Merton’s strain theory, or some other theory can provide
a useful framework for understanding terrorist group membership. Conversely, you may determine the focus is better placed on psychological factors like frustration-
aggression, sociopath, narcissistic Injury, schizophrenia, or other mental illness.
In this section of the paper, you will explain the problem identified and identify a psychological or sociological theory that purports to explain some aspect of
the problem. This section should contain reference citations as needed to authors whose theories or statements of the problem have informed your understanding. You
should state the question clearly, explain the theory you think helps explain the answer, and define the terms as they will be used in your paper. (For example, what
is a terrorist group?)
In this section of the paper, you must gather a minimum of three sources of information that inform your understanding of the link between the theory and problem
discussed above. Explain the evidence and why it is important. How does it support your argument?