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Course Description

The causes of war and political violence dominate international relations. International trade and cooperation remain important, but for most scholars of international relations and, more importantly, most policy makers, international security issues most often take pride of place. This course surveys scholarly and policy literature on international relations (IR) theory, with a focus on international security as it has evolved in the past, the present, and as it might do in the future. The first part of the course introduces critical conceptual and theoretical scaffolding. For example, we will problematize the concept of “security” and take a look at the evolution of the states system and the role of force and how it has changed over time. We will examine more traditional aspects of international security including interstate war and nuclear proliferation, but also more contemporary issues related to terrorism, civil wars, and climate change. The main objective of the course is to provide students with (1) an understanding of how the international system of states manages insecurity; by (2) identifying important features and dynamics in world politics; as well as (3) the key challenges to international security in the past, present, and into the future. Students will be provided with an opportunity to critically engage IR theory and international security by assessing the state of knowledge and together identifying new questions and approaches that might help address critical theoretical and policy challenges.