Dealing with terrorism has become the centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy today. Yet terrorism, its definition, causes, and methodsof dealing with it, has rarely been dealt with in high school courses. The Institute has developed this guide to assist teachers in helping their students identify and understand terrorism. The teaching guide provides teachers with lesson plans, bibliographic sources, and factual material that address the varying views and definitions of terrorism, some of terrorism's possible origins, and different ways in which terrorism may be addressed.

Teaching Guide on International Terrorism: Definitions, Causes and Responses

Dealing with terrorism has become the centerpiece of US foreign policy today. Yet, terrorism, its definition, causes and methods of dealing with it, has rarely been dealt with in high school courses. In an effort to assist teachers in helping their students identify and understand terrorism the United States Institute of Peace has developed a three lesson plan entitled Teaching Guide on International Terrorism: Definitions, Causes and Responses.

The teaching guide is aimed at grades 11 and 12 with the objective of providing teachers with lesson plans, bibliographic sources, and factual material to assist them in understanding the varying views and definitions of terrorism, some of terrorism's possible origins and different ways in which terrorism may be addressed.

This teaching guide contains three lessons

Lesson One - Defining Terrorism focuses on student responses to terrorism, and engages students in a discussion on defining terrorism. It can be completed in one to two periods.

Lesson Two - Causes of Terrorism examines some possible sources of motivation for terrorism. Central to the exercise is to show students that terrorism can emerge from a variety of motivations. Lesson two can be completed in one class period.

Lesson Three - Responses to Terrorism engages students in a creative problem solving exercise to examine a range of possible responses to terrorism. Students are also asked to evaluate the utility and consequences of their stronger ideas. This exercise can be completed in one class period.

Supplemental Internet materials are also available.

Download the Teaching Guide

The guides are in PDF format. To view or print them you need Adobe Acrobat. The software can be downloaded for free from Adobe's web site.

Teaching Guide on International Terrorism: Definitions, Causes and Responses (166K)

Web Based Materials on Terrorism

Latest Publications

Why the New U.S.-U.K.-Australia Partnership Is So Significant

Why the New U.S.-U.K.-Australia Partnership Is So Significant

Friday, September 17, 2021

By: Brian Harding; Carla Freeman, Ph.D; Mirna Galic; Henry Tugendhat; Rachel Vandenbrink

The United States and the United Kingdom have made the rare decision to share nuclear submarine propulsion technology with Australia in a move seen aimed at China. In a joint statement on September 15, the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia announced the formation of a trilateral partnership — AUKUS — that, among other things, seeks to “strengthen the ability of each to support our security and defense interests.” USIP’s Brian Harding, Carla Freeman, Mirna Galic, Henry Tugendhat and Rachel Vandenbrink discuss the significance of the decision and what to expect next.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

What Can the Taliban Learn From Past Afghan Conquests and Collapses?

What Can the Taliban Learn From Past Afghan Conquests and Collapses?

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

By: William Byrd, Ph.D.

The Taliban’s lightning conquest of Afghanistan caught many people by surprise, perhaps including the Taliban themselves. However, it is not the country’s first episode of an unexpectedly quick military victory and consequent rapid change in regime. Historical examples may provide relevant lessons for the victorious Taliban as they begin to govern the country, including pitfalls to be avoided in their own and the nation’s interest.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Fragility & Resilience

The Need to Build on Security Gains in Mozambique

The Need to Build on Security Gains in Mozambique

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

By: Thomas P. Sheehy

The Rwandan armed forces and police deployed to the Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique have made impressive gains combatting the Islamic State-affiliated al-Shabaab militants that have devastated the area. These 1,000 or so forces secured the key port city of Mocimboa da Praia in August, and the militants — who have committed grave atrocities, killed thousands and driven nearly a million people from their homes — have been forced to retreat from several areas of this natural resource-rich region. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Violent Extremism

Making Sense of North Korea’s Missile Test

Making Sense of North Korea’s Missile Test

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

By: Frank Aum

North Korea announced on September 13 that it had tested long-range cruise missiles over the weekend. It described the missiles as a “strategic weapon of great significance.” The test caused alarm in North Korea’s neighbors — South Korea and Japan, both U.S. allies — as the revelation now puts both countries within striking distance. But despite the test, a spokesperson for the Biden administration said the United States remains prepared to engage with North Korea. USIP’s Frank Aum discusses the significance of the tests, the arms race on the Korean Peninsula, and what signals North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may be sending to the United States with this latest test. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

View All Publications