The Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University is offering prospective graduate students the opportunity to sample a free virtual lecture regarding one of the more pressing concerns of the day: the coronavirus pandemic and, more specifically, the future threats that might be inspired by it.
The sample lecture, titled Will COVID-19 Inspire Greater Interest in Bioweapons?, will be held July 22 at 12 p.m. EDT. It will be taught by professor Gregory Koblentz, director of the biodefense master’s, PhD, and graduate certificate programs at the Schar School.
“The sample lecture will discuss the history of bioterrorism and why different terrorist groups have tried to develop and use biological weapons,” said Koblentz. “Understanding the motivations for bioterrorism can help us predict the conditions under which bioterrorist groups emerge.”
The online lecture will be based on a bioterrorism risk assessment framework that Koblentz developed as part of an earlier research project on chemical, bioterrorism, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism. In 2016, Koblentz briefed the UN Security Council on the impact of emerging technologies on the threat posed by the proliferation of CBRN weapons to non-state actors.
“This class sampler,” said Koblentz, “will provide a preview of one of the lectures I’ll be giving in BIOD 609: Biodefense Strategy in the fall. This will be the first chance for prospective students to hear my analysis of this threat.”
The session will reveal new insights about the pandemic and how diseases could be used for bioterrorism or biological warfare in the future. “There is a long-standing debate in the field about the threat posed by bioterrorism,” said Koblentz, “and there are a whole bunch of new questions being raised about how the COVID-19 pandemic might increase that threat. There are some disturbing indications that both far-right and jihadist terrorist groups are seeking to exploit the pandemic to advance their respective political agendas.”