Full course description
Why do people cause conflicts such as those in Bosnia, Rwanda, or Northern Ireland? What motivated people to commit such atrocities as the mass murder and mass raping in Nanking (China, 1937 – by Japanese troops), the massacre in My Lai (Vietnam, 1968 – only one of many similar atrocities committed by American troops in Indochina) or the Jozéfów massacre (1942, carried out by the German Police Battalion 101),… to name only a few? Why did Western leaders secretly sustain repressive and genocidal dictatorships like e.g. Chile under Pinochet (1973-1990), Uganda under Idi Amin Dada (1971 – 1979) or Cambodia under Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge (1975-1979)? Why can ordinary people be educated to torturers, like in the “Greek Torture School” (1967-1974) or in the former US Army “School of the Americas” (since 1946)? Why is the still ongoing genocide in Darfur (since 2003) widely unnoticed? What motivates a political leader to enforce violence on entire populations and to sacrifice troops without the slightest chance of winning this conflict, like e.g. Nixon/Kissinger (the Vietnam War in the mid-1970s)?
We will use an interdisciplinary approach to answer such questions. Therefore, not only our psychological tool set will help us, but also we will include perspectives from other academic fields, (such as criminal law, political science, anthropology, and sociology). Further, we will evaluate cases of GHRV against their unique historical background, using recently declassified governmental documents, newspaper reports, and short historical overviews. In addition, each task will be related to current events, allowing us to apply what we learned to events happening right now. During the course, we will combine the above-mentioned different academic fields with political psychology tools to establish a unique understanding of why people violate the rights of others.
- knowledge of key political psychological theories, key political psychological concepts and mechanisms;
- understanding of the importance of a historical understanding of a situation;
- the complex interplay between dispositional and situational components.
- applying psychological theories used in political psychology to historic and current cases;
- using an interdisciplinary approach to research a question;
- analysing a situation while using primary sources;
- scrutinising complex information critically;
- identifying concepts and theories used in political psychology during everyday life situations;
- critical independent thinking.