Gangs, drug cartels and terrorist groups are primarily categorized as outlier fringe groups known for their violent illegal behaviors and activities. But they have evolved to serve specific structures and functions within society and provide social and economic resources when there are market failures that have not been effectively addressed while formal government does not provide the equitable solutions and avenues for access to an improved quality of life. Once thought of as unsophisticated subcultures, these groups have shifted the policy paradigms and have become epicenters of power, impacting the agenda of politics, economics and social culture in their respective regions and worldwide. They are beginning to appear to be parallel bodies of governance with thriving underground economies and a growing loyal support base from their own communities and beyond their geographic boundaries; building coalitions and alliances that magnify their influence and power.
We have yet to understand the complete impact of underground economies and shadow governments at all levels of society and in all its sectors. This course is designed to examine the scope of shadow governments and underground economies using multiple fields of study and practice as the foundation of exploration. The course is presented from various points of view with experts from the field providing insight to what is actually being faced by local, national and international communities. Assigned academic research readings will be combined with government agency reports and current event journalism sources to provide a comprehensive review of the logistics and mechanics of underground economies and shadow governments and how they operate in the modern world.