fbpx Insurgents, Rebels, and Terrorists: Causes and Consequences of Civil War | Harvard Kennedy School
Dara Kay Cohen Photo

Dara Kay Cohen

Professor of Public Policy


Civil wars are the most common form of contemporary armed conflict. Civil wars are far more numerous, kill and injure more people, and last longer than interstate wars. In this course, we will consider major questions about civil war, terrorism, and the use of violence by armed groups. Why do civil wars begin? What motivates the members of armed groups, including rebel groups and terrorist organizations? Why are civil was so violent? When and how do civil wars end? What are the social and economic consequences of civil war? We begin with a review of theoretical constructs, then turn to a series of debates drawn from recent research on the causes of civil wars, how insurgent and terrorist groups are organized, the dynamics of violence during civil wars, and the ways that civil wars are terminated. The course will include an examination and evaluation of policy responses and interventions.