With the recent debates over how the international community should respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the horrific occurrence of mass murder of civilians in war is again brought to the forefront of public consciousness. The phenomenon of large-scale killings continues its plague on humanity, joining a huge list of tragic events that can be considered genocide. This course explores theoretical and empirical research on genocide and mass violence in order to understand its historical and contemporary occurrence. We examine the various conceptualizations of “genocide,” causal factors ranging from the psychological basis of individual participation to societal level conditions, and a range of historical episodes. Examples of topics include the definition of genocide, psychological and cultural factors, situational factors, political processes, state-sponsored murder, ethnic mass murder, and intervention. Students will research historical cases to present in class and write an analytical paper on their case or a comparison of cases.