Political Violence and the Human Condition


Course Objective

This course aims to provide students with knowledge of the perpetrators
and victims of political violence. It will cover the reasons why, and
the processes and mechanisms through which, people get involved in
political violence, as well as the impact this has on victims and their

When finalizing the course, students will have knowledge and
understanding of:
- The driving forces of violent behaviour on an individual and group
- The psychological foundations of violent behaviour;
- The adverse psychosocial and intergenerational consequences of
violence for victims and communities;
- The prospects and problems of an interdisciplinary approach to violent
behaviour that combines psychology and criminology.
-Effective strategies to reduce the adverse psychological and
psychosocial consequences of violence for victims and communities
-Challenges when administering psychosocial interventions to individuals
and communities following political violence.

In addition students will be able to:
- Gather and integrate knowledge of multiple disciplines with the
purpose of handling complexity of issues related to peace and conflict
and designing effective solutions;
- Formulate judgements based on a critical evaluation of knowledge,
methodologies and research results from multiple disciplines, which
include a critical reflection on the social and ethical responsibilities
linked to the application of the students’ own knowledge and judgements
-Critically appraise and integrate the literature on psychological and
psychosocial interventions in the aftermath of political violence.

Course Content

Mass atrocities are frequently perpetrated during wars and they have a
devastating effect on the victims and their communities. The
perpetrators and the victims of this violence have been studied from
numerous disciplines including, but not limited to, criminology,
clinical psychology, psychiatry, social psychology and history. Studies
across these different disciplines have focused on characteristics and
processes that contribute to mass violence on different levels of
analysis. In addition, extensive scientific literature exists on the
consequences of mass violence for the exposed society, community and the
individual, and how individuals, communities and countries may deal with
the past. In this course, these perspectives will be integrated to
provide an overview of the reasons why, and the processes through which,
individuals perpetrate mass atrocities. The hypothesis that these
individuals are ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances will be
discussed by analysing theories as well as case studies. Furthermore,
the appropriateness of individual accountability for these collective
manifestations of political violence will be discussed, as well as
potential alternatives.

A second central focus of the course will be the psychological and
psychosocial consequences of political violence and war-related trauma
for its victims and affected individuals, communities and societies. In
this part of the course we will mainly focus on how to interfere with
the development of such adverse consequences, on an individual,
community and societal level. We will focus on a variety of groups of
victims, including soldiers, civilians, and people in high income as
well as low income and humanitarian settings.

Teaching Methods

Lectures and seminars

Method of Assessment

Written assignments

General Information

Course Code S_PVHC
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 200
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator dr. mr. A.M. de Hoon
Examiner dr. mr. A.M. de Hoon
Teaching Staff dr. E.M. Sijbrandij
dr. mr. A.M. de Hoon

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Teaching Methods Seminar, Reading
Target audiences

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