« Return to Course Catalog

Security, Conflict, Violence, and War

Course registration will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

Course Description

Why has violent conflict between groups been so common throughout human history? How have interstate and civil wars, terrorism, interethnic violence, and class conflict shaped the world in which we live? Over what issues will the wars of the 21st century be fought? These are some of the issues we will explore in this course.

As the famous military theorist Carl von Clausewitz once wrote, war is the extension of politics by other means. Consequently, the study of war is central to the disciplines of political science and international relations.

Therefore, this course will introduce students to the study of war and conflict. Drawing upon work from international relations, comparative politics, and political theory, we will attempt to understand the causes and consequences of conflicts as diverse as interstate war, civil war, transnational terrorism, local interethnic violence, and even class conflict. In doing so, we will cover a vast amount of time, from warfare between Athens and Sparta to the current conflict in Syria. Throughout the course, we will learn about and rely on the theoretical approaches popular in international relations in order to understand not only the individual conflicts in which we are interested, but patterns of conflict over time as well.

This course will prepare students for success in their further studies of international relations and political science. Through deep engagement with one very important aspect of politics, students will have a base of knowledge on which to build throughout their undergraduate career.

Students who have taken this class will be able to analyze both historical and present conflicts, identifying the interests at stake and the motivations and constraints of the actors involved, and offer predictions as to the future of these conflicts.

Prerequisites: This course has no prerequisites, and is open to all.