The Threat of Chemical Weapons

Research and development efforts in the field of chemistry have significantly enhanced the quality of human life. However, they also pose threats to global security, since highly toxic chemicals can be employed by States and terrorists to develop deadly weapons, including weapons of mass destruction. Crafting successful policies that minimize the threat without hampering the development of peaceful applications is a complex task that requires understanding the science of chemical weapons, knowing their history, and being aware of the current state of the affairs. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of the subject, this course introduces students to scientific concepts from the disciplines of chemistry and biology and gives them the opportunity to analyze and critically discuss: a) historical aspects related to the development and deployment of chemical weapons; b) international frameworks for their control; c) the current discourse on events and issues in the chemical weapons arena in news outlets and social media. Moreover, this course offers an excellent opportunity to introduce students to text mining techniques, which will be applied to the study of the social media discourse on chemical weapons.