The term terrorism has become a central part of everyday life. We hear about it on TV, we read about it on the Internet and we think about it, like it or not, every time we board a plane. But what is terrorism exactly? How does terrorism differ from war? Who decides how these labels are applied and why does it matter? These challenging questions form the foundation for this introductory course to the study of political violence. Building from an exploration of the relationship between power and language, students will examine the historical foundations of contemporary conflicts, paying particular attention to the economic, political and cultural factors that foster political violence. The course concludes by reflecting on the apparent tension between fighting a war on terrorism and preserving civil liberties.