Philosophy Professor Nir Eisikovits developed the course Understanding ISIS: Inside the Terrorist State in response to students’ questions about the political and social context for the meteoric rise of a terrorist group notorious for its barbaric executions.

“The students recognized that much of what we were reading about ISIS in the news media was superficial and that the organization was dictating the terms of coverage through threats, terrorist acts, and beheadings,” said Eisikovits, director of the Graduate Program in Ethics & Public Policy.

The class, to be launched during Suffolk University’s summer session, will explore the factors that led to the organization’s swift rise to power, the relationship to the last decade of war in Iraq and the aftermath of World War I, and U.S. policy options.

“I owe it to the students to give them a more nuanced picture of what led to the emergence of ISIS,” said Eisikovits, whose new class offering draws from years of research for scholarly and popular writing and a more recently developed interest in how organizations like ISIS attract young people in the West.

The class also will look at how ISIS developed an effective social media strategy and at American options for confronting the threat.

Eisikovits’ teaching and writing focus on the ethics of war and on how countries emerge from war and come to terms with a violent past. He has written a great deal about these topics for both scholarly and popular outlets. He has just finished a new book on the role of truces and ceasefires as tools of conflict management.

In addition to his scholarly work, Eisikovits is a senior fellow at the International Center for Conciliation, which tries to use divergent understandings of history as a tool in conflict resolution.