Counter-terrorism courses offer students unique learning opportunity

Local News

Salt Lake City, Utah- (News4Utah) – Students at the University of Utah were thrust onto the front lines to see how they will respond to five different terrorism scenarios.

Scenarios that are all too familiar in today’s world, including a shooting at a major college campus and a bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan.

“Instead of just learning about it in a book, writing a paper, it put the reality into it, and in a way the humanity into it. How would I really react in this decision when it’s actual lives on the line,” said graduate student Deba Masterson.

Students work together as a team to address every aspect of a real life situation.

They justify their decisions to the media, a congressional panel and the White House.

Last year, Masterson was in the thick of it. This year, she’s part of a separate class that designed the scenarios.

“When you’re designing it you’re not just writing out a scenario. You’re writing out how different individuals, how different groups involved would react to it,” she said.

S.J. Quinney College of Law Professor Amos Guiora launched the counter-terrorism courses to provide lessons that weren’t even thought of just a few decades ago.

“They have to understand the legal/policy aspects of counter-terrorism, but they also have to understand information management, teamwork, stress-based leadership, stress-based decision making. Those kinds of things that when you were in school 20 years ago, when I was in school 30 to 35 years ago did not exist,” said Guiora.

They do now, and these courses arm students with the confidence they need moving forward.

“I think this class is really incredible, because all of the skills learned in it I really can, feel like it can apply to any career I’m going into,’ said Masterson.

Professor Guiora says this is the only program in the country that allows one class to design the scenarios, and puts another class to the test.

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