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Academics researching threats to U.S. security

Effort smaller than during Cold War, but more varied. Amid the grassy quads and colonnaded halls of the University of Maryland, criminologist Gary LaFree is getting ready to profile a deadly type of bad guy, the kind who is willing to strap on explosives and blow up himself and others. LaFree will be working with 60 other researchers, stretching from his campus near the nation’s capital to the University of California Los Angeles, trying to get a better understanding of the root causes of terrorism and what motivates its practitioners. “We’ve got psychologists, sociologists, geographers, historians – very unusual in that sense, for academia,” LaFree said of the collaborative effort. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, colleges and universities nationwide have added homeland security programs to their roster of academic concentrations. The efforts range from sophisticated research on biological weapons to nuts-and-bolts training for police officers and firefighters. Full Story

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