Professor Peter Krause: BC's own terrorism expert

Professor Peter Krause is only a first year Assistant Professor of Political Science at Boston College, and already his name is widely known around campus. His response to the bombings at this year’s Boston Marathon was quickly diffused and his message embraced throughout the community affected by the tragedy as he encouraged BC students, Bostonians, and Americans everywhere to move forward with resilience in response to the attacks.

Professor Peter Krause Courtesy of BC

Professor Peter Krause
Courtesy of BC

Krause earned his B.A. from Williams College in political science and history and has since spent his time studying international security, Middle East politics, non-state violence, and social movements, according to his faculty bio page by the Department of Political Science. Before becoming a professor at BC this year, he spent time as a research affiliate for MIT’s Security Studies Program, a research fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies of Brandeis University, and a research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs of the Harvard Kennedy School.

Krause’s time spent studying topics that have recently become an integral part of daily conversation in Boston and around the world has taught him a lot. He pointed out, “little knowledge is really out there in the mainstream public and the media about how many people are actually killed in terrorism attacks, how much money the U.S. government spends on this stuff, what our counterterrorism policies are." And over the last ten years Krause has more fully realized the breadth of the topic.

“Over time my understanding of the dynamics at play here have broadened and it has provided me a lot deeper insight into when and why violence occurs and also what impact it has beyond the exact city or time and place." It is more than just the violence, and has so much to do with “the broader context of a country’s counterterrorism policy and how societies struggle between freedom and security.” These are the issues that are especially important to consider in light of the recent events in Boston.

The bombings that took place at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon visibly shook Boston College students to the core. As we were in our dorm rooms watching the news some cried, some sat plagued with silence and disbelief, and some made quick movements to reach friends and family in an attempt to make sure they were safe. All of us were scared. But the moment we opened Professor Krause’s Letter to the Editor of the Boston College Heights, things were slightly different. Immediately, there was a heightened awareness for not only what had occurred that day, but also how Bostonians, college students, and people around the nation would and should react.

Courtesy of Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

Krause had been at the Marathon that day. After cheering on the runners near the 23-mile marker, Krause was just as shocked when he heard the bombings had occurred. By the time the bombs went off he had made his way to his office to do some grading. His focus quickly shifted.

On his inspiration to write the letter, Krause explained, “I felt…there is something that I can add to the conversation here, about putting this attack in perspective. I think I can make a difference in terms of talking to people about how, as a society, we should think about responding to this…about what works and what doesn’t.”

Krause realized that students might have trouble responding to the tragedy, whether out of fear or a lack of knowledge about violence, specifically non-state violence. He wanted his letter to tell readers, “this is something that has happened before, but there are ways that we can respond to this, it’s not just a thing where you have to feel helpless…”

Appropriately, Krause received the reaction that he had hoped for. He was “overwhelmed with the spirit of the community” as many people both reached out to him directly and reflected his message in their own responses to the Boston Marathon bombings. Krause believes that next years’ marathon will have more runners and spectators than ever, and he remains cognizant of the need to follow through with his message. Despite his proclaimed hatred of running according to his Letter to the Editor, he plans to run the 118th Boston Marathon. Knowing how many BC students run each year, he commented, “hopefully I’ll have some good company.”

Courtesy of Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

Having already inspired many people to fight back against the bombings with a “renewed community spirit,” Krause continues his objective to help us understand the tragedy. In an event proposed by Professors Bourg and Braude in the history department, the three professors will attempt to “provide context and understanding to what is going on here.”

Krause commented, “I think the media has provided some good information but I think there has also been some bad information both over social media and mainstream media outlets, so the idea is first and foremost to make sure people understand what we do know and what we don’t know.” He hopes that by putting the Boston Marathon bombings into more understandable historical and political contexts students will better be able to react and continue to discuss the issue.

The event, “A Discussion: Causes, Responses, and Implications of the Boston Marathon Attacks,” will take place on Wednesday night, April 24th, at 8:00 pm in Higgins 300.

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