How Cities Bounce Back from a Terror Attack: Barcelona (Spain) as an Experience

How cities bounce back from a terror attack: Barcelona (Spain) as an experience

Number of credits: 6 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)
Price: 840 €
Price for UAB students*: 200 €
*Max. 5 places Teaching
Language: English
Place: UAB Campus Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès), Barcelona
Teaching Period: 13 to 31 July
Professor: Nathalie García, Ingeborg Porcar and other professionals from the Public Health System and the Crisis Response Teams

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Enrolment guidelines

Nathalie García,
Master's degree in clinical psychology. Trained as a trauma, crisis and disaster psychologist. Founder and coordinator at SEP, the Psychological Emergencies Service in Andorra. She has been the Andorran observer member since 2015 of the Standing Committee on Crisis and Disaster Psychology at the EFPA. Psychologist and trainer at UTCCB, the Crisis Center at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). 

Ingeborg Porcar, Master's degree in clinical psychology. Certified as a crisis and disaster psychologist specialized on trauma, PTSD and ASD. Founder and technical director at the UTCCB, the Crisis Center at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). Lecturer at the same University. From 2010 to 2017 she was member of the Standing Committee on Crisis and Disaster Psychology at the EFPA. Together with a medical colleague at the Public Health Agency of Barcelona, she was in charge of the planning and then the supervision of the response to the terror attacks in 2017 since 2016.


Contents overview
Cities are the new frontline of terrorism, especially those which are important touristic destinations. The main purpose of today’s terrorists is not only to target civilians and spread fear, but also to turn city residents against each other and to negatively impact on the economy of the city. The first massive attacks in New York (2001), Madrid (2004), and Tunis (2015) generated confusion and doubts in the way of responding to terror. Cities were “unprepared” and had little experience in recovering from such sad experiences. However, at least after the terrorist attack in Bataclan (Paris, 2015) during a concert we know that terrorist attacks are very diverse in terms of location, impact and the perpetrators. Furthermore, we can learn further on the ways a city recovers from such terror. 

This course defends two theses. The first claims that terrorist attacks against civilian targets in very touristy cities have become a fearsome reality that has an impact not only on emotional well-being, but also on economy and social cohesion. The second thesis claims that the way in which a city recovers from a terrorist attack depends directly on how it has prepared itself for these types of incidents and on a multidisciplinary approach to the recovery process, including the citizens of the attacked city themselves. In this course you will be trained on an integrative model that will allow you to prepare your city or community to manage a future event involving multiple victims, and to understand the keys to a good recovery if this incident finally happens.

Week programme

Week Contents Teaching / learning activities
1.1. The new kind of terror attack:

a) Characteristics.
b) Targets.
c) Impact on the economy and tourism, medical and mental health, identity and coexistence of different cultures.

1.2. Patterns and models of response in the aftermath of a critical event:

a) During the attack.
b) During the first month after.
c) During the recovery phase (6 months).
d) Natural Resilience and Empowerment.
  • Video teaching
  • Case studies
  • Discussions
  • Problem solving
  • Team work
2.1. How can cities prepare for a terror attack
a) Planning the sanitary response during the attack.
b) Security plans.
c) Psychosocial support.
d) Communication plans.
Te) aking care of the first responders.
f) Taking care of political and other civil managers.
  • Video teaching
  • Case studies
  • Discussions
  • Problem solving
  • Team work
3.1. Lessons learned from Barcelona 2017 terror attack:
a) Medical services.
b) Psychosocial support.
c) City support for commerce and stores.
d) The role of consulates and other representatives of foreign countries.
e) City support for foreign communities, especially those involved in the attack.
f) Media.

3.2. A proposal for a multidisciplinary response model:
a) Crisis preparedness.
b) During the impact.
c) After the impact.
d) Towards a real recovery for the city.
  • Video teaching
  • Case studies
  • Discussions
  • Problem solving
  • Team work
  • Final seminar on intervention design.


  1. Every morning we will first do a short test to help us to check if we should revisit certain concepts. The average grade of these tests makes 30% of the final grade.
  2. Class attendance and Moodle discussion will make 20% of the final grade.
  3. During the course, the students will apply the proposed competencies to an incident of multiple victims of his/her interest, based on real situations proposed by the professors. The final evaluation will consist of the complete design of the best possible intervention in that crisis and the presentation of that design before the group of colleagues of the same course in a final seminar. This is a group work and will account for 50% of the final grade.

Links and references

  • Brown, S.D. and Hoskins, A. (2010). Terrorism in the new memory ecology: Mediating and remembering the 2005 London Bombings. Journal of Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, Volume 2, 2010 - Issue 2.
  • Hobfoll SE1, Watson P, Bell CC, Bryant RA, Brymer MJ, Friedman MJ, et al. (2007). Psychiatry, Winter; 70(4), 283-315
  • Kollias, Ch., Papadamou, S. and Stagiannis, A. (2011). Terrorism and capital markets: The effects of the Madrid and London bomb attacks. International Review of Economics & Finance, Volume 20, Issue 4, 532-541.
  • Marshall, B.K., Picou, S.J. and Gill, D.A. (2003). Terrorism As Disaster: Selected Commonalities And Long-Term Recovery For 9/11 Survivors in Lee Clarke (ed.) Terrorism and Disaster: New Threats, New Ideas (Research in Social Problems and Public Policy, Volume 11, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 73 – 96).
  • Rubin, G.J., Brewin, C.R., Greenberg, N. and Hacker Hughes, J. (2018). Enduring consequences of terrorism: 7-month follow-up survey of reactions to the bombings in London on 7 July 2005. The British Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 190, Issue 4 April 2007, 350-356