At the end of the course, students will be able to:
- understand, explain and analyze the characteristics and dynamics of conflict, security, and war
- understand, explain and evaluate the relevance of different concepts and theoretical approaches to studying them
- reflect and critically assess underlying issues and security policy responses (or lack thereof) of different actors
- suggest and discuss a range of possible answers and policies to address them, and formulate a position on a specific international security issue.
“International Security” tackles questions of war, peace, security and conflict from an analytical perspective. It highlights continuities and changes in international security and contemporary conflict.
What causes war? Does the liberal international order promote peace or permeate violence? Has great power competition returned – or has it never been away? Can international law prevent wars? Can third-party intervention into civil conflicts ever bring about lasting peace? What constitutes a threat?
To address these and other questions, the course provides students with a broad-based theoretical as well as practice-oriented introduction into security studies. Throughout the course, students analyze contemporary security issues in policy-oriented coursework. In so doing, it is closely tailored to students’ individual interests and backgrounds and allows them to take active ownership of their own learning. They do so by choosing specific conflicts/security issues and actors to focus on, including in a final policy brief.
The first part of the course introduces theory-informed policy writing, both in terms of concept, style, and ethical concerns. Students get to know (and subsequently try out) basic tools of security and conflict analysis.
The second part reviews major conceptual and theoretical approaches to explore the causes, characteristics, dynamics, and duration of historical and contemporary international conflict and war. Key concepts include deterrence, military technology, geopolitics, alliances, but also securitization, collective security. Students use these concepts and relevant frameworks as lenses through which to examine contemporary problems of war and peace, as well as threats to individual, national, and international security.
The third part of the course turns to critically interrogating approaches to international security more broadly. This widens the analytical toolkit to encompass political violence, terrorism, insurgency, as well as the ways in which international security is interwoven with gender, race, empire, migration, climate change and international development. The course thus offers a platform to reflect on contemporary international security, as well as those involved in its production and contestation.
Some initial knowledge of broad social sciences theory and methodology (e.g. structure-agency, rationality), and/or of theories of International Relations (e.g. realism, institutionalism), and/or of economics, (international) law or social/political psychology is helpful (but not mandatory).
1) Students will write weekly blogposts in response to short prompts. The blogposts are ungraded, but mandatory. General feedback will be provided.|
2) Students will write two short assignments. They will help prepare what will be the final course assignment, i.e. the policy brief. The assignments are graded and can contribute to the final grade with a point deduction or addition (up to +/-1 grade point in total; course cannot be failed based on overall short assignment contribution). Individual feedback will be provided.
3) Students will write a final policy brief on a security issue of their own choice. This will contribute 100% of the course grade. Detailed instructions and training on policy brief writing will be provided.