“Where were you on 9/11?” This question is the starting point on the first night in Criminal Justice 270: Terrorism. Adult students in the class have a conscious memory of that bright Tuesday morning, while most traditional students were in elementary school. Regardless of how they came to an understanding of events on that day, it is a shared common experience for U.S. citizens, and students in this class.
The Criminal Justice 270: Terrorism course enrollment fills quickly every year in the Simpson College Continuing & Graduate Program. It is a perennially popular course for Criminal Justice majors and students who are interested in the evolution and current state of domestic and international terrorism.
Instructor Bob Askelson often teaches the evening section of CJ 270. Askelson’s background includes degrees in law enforcement and justice administration, plus decades of experience working in the prison system and as a probation officer. Askelson is passionate about teaching students a global perspective on terrorist attacks and counterterrorism policies, which have shaped modern day criminal justice.
While U.S. perceptions of terrorism tend to focus on the September 11, 2001 attacks, this course challenges students to use critical thinking to evaluate the counterterrorism measures implemented in response to domestic terrorist groups across the globe. Askelson’s course uses applied learning to prepare students to be future decision makers in the field of counterterrorism and to consider, “how terrorists think, organize, plan, and execute their terrorist acts.”
In a typical evening class session, Askelson might assign students into small hypothetical terrorist attack teams, working together as members of the Federal Government’s Counterterrorism Unit (CTU). Each team analyzes a terrorist scenario, and then develops a formal counterterrorism response.
Current Criminal Justice and Sociology major, Christine Ries says the study of terrorism “is filled with interesting ideas and concepts. This class not only covers what you see and hear on the news when a terrorist attack occurs, but other explanations on things like how the twin towers collapsed the way they did.”
It’s just another night of class in Simpson College C&G.
(photo credit: Andrea Biklen)