This course explores societal extremism and extremist behavior from the perspective of different disciplines such religion, literature, history, political science and sociology, but with a significant emphasis on the psychology and behavioral science of extremism. It covers a range of topics that may include autocratic leaders; bigots and zealots; authoritarians and the closed minded; evil and moral bankruptcy; orthodoxy and ideological extremism; fascism, ultra-conservatism, communism and state socialism; fundamentalism and religious extremism; bunker mentalities and groupthink; cults and sects; pogroms, Gulags and the persecution of deviants; hate crimes and gang violence; mass aggression and genocide; and terrorism and suicide bombers.
The course will be class discussion based and oriented around visiting speakers and student presentations. There will be some double classes or perhaps an all-day class (in lieu of the appropriate number of single classes), which will act as mini-conferences or collaborative hands-on workshops focused on research and/or policy dimensions of the topics. The scheduling of these sessions will be worked out in collaboration with the class at the beginning of the course.