Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Statistics Don't Bleed: Teaching Sociology of Terrorism and Genocide through Multimedia Technologies and Service Learning

Michael W. Smith.

The teaching of terrorism and genocide by sociologists is grounded in the theoretical study of historical circumstances influencing social forces and social structure; of individual and collective memories and behavior leading to social movements; of social groups, group dynamics and group identity; of conflicts of ideology, race, ethnicity, religion and social class; and of the motivations and sources for terrorism and genocide. (Smith 2003; MacDougall and Elder 2003; Abowitz 2002).

In teaching an undergraduate course in the sociology of terrorism and genocide, this paper examines and evaluates the use of multimedia technologies (internet, BlackBoard and films) and service learning. The use of these different teaching approaches personalized these incomprehensible events to students in ways that are difficult to convey through traditional texts and lecture format.

The use of the internet sites exposed students to not only primary and secondary documents, but also oral histories and visual sociology of the terrorism and genocide. Visual images through films and the internet are susceptible to a wide range of interpretations and provide the students with socio-historical "connection to lives in process and a fuller range of contextual details". (Valdez and Halley 1999:287).

From a socio-historical perspective, this paper evaluates six films on terrorism and genocide. As cultural products of American society, the socio-historical context and content of these films become an important source for understanding cultural ideas, beliefs, norms, myths, stereotypes, and values of that population in that time period. (Dowd 1999:330).
The technology of BlackBoard was used to not only manage the course, but to encourage and facilitate on-line venues for students discussions of these incomprehensible events.
Finally, all students were required to volunteer 20 hours at a refugee center in Manchester, New Hampshire. This service learning experience provided students with educational benefits what at the same time provided invaluable assistance to the refugee population.
This paper concludes with the students' assessment evaluates the use of multimedia, technology, the internet and service learning in this course.


Michael W. Smith  (United States)
Assistant Professor
Sociology Department
Saint Anselm College

Ph.D. & J.D. Northeastern University
Professor for Boston University & U. Maryland throughout Europe and Middle East [1981-1992]. Since 1999, teaching at Saint Anselm College and practicing law.

  • Teaching
  • Teaching terorism & genocide
  • Multimedia technologies
  • Service learning

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)