Course Descriptions

GOVT 572: Peacekeeping and Peace Enforcement (Spring 2021)

This seminar explores questions related to the analysis, policies and practices of peacekeeping and peace enforcement. We will read one book per week, focusing on themes related to war, peacekeeping, peace enforcement, peacebuilding, and other types of multilateral intervention. Most weeks, the author of the book will join seminar to discuss their work with us. The goals of this course are to survey current debates related to keeping the peace; to learn how to write a reading analysis; and to perfect the craft of writing a graduate-level research paper. Note: This course covers different material and has dissimilar goals than those of GOVT 633, and GOVT 363.

GOVT 060: Intro to International Relations (Fall 2020)

This course has three objectives. First, the course provides an introduction to the major theories of international politics. We begin by asking what theories are and how they help us understand the world.

Second, the class provides a basic history of major international events of the twentieth century. In particular, we review the events of World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and the end of the Cold War. Not only is this history intrinsically important, but it also provides empirical evidence with which to evaluate the validity of different theoretical approaches to international politics.

Finally, this class evaluates the implications of theory and history for contemporary international disputes. This class is not about current events, but a primary objective is to provide students with the tools to analyze current events in a rigorous, theoretically informed manner. We will examine theories and conceptual frames so that students will be better able to understand, explain, and develop practical approaches to crucial questions about war, peace, cooperation, global trade, economic development, colonialism and racism, international law, climate change, disease and COVID 19, civil war, peacekeeping, gender and war, nuclear weapons, Russia and NATO, and the rise of China.

GOVT 776: War, Peace, and the State (Fall 2020)

This seminar examines some of the recent major scholarly books about war, peace, and statebuilding. The theory and substance of this course span the in Political Science subfields of International Relations and Comparative Politics, focusing on the causes of war, state collapse, and efforts to establish peace. We explore a variety of topics relating to violence, peacekeeping, the use of force, leadership, rebel governance, global governance, and attempts to create state institutions after war. Our readings focus on several regions, including Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and North America (the United States). Our books employ a wide range of methods used in current research on war and peace, including qualitative comparative case studies, ethnographic research, historical archival research, quantitative analysis, field experiments, and game theory. We will also briefly venture outside of Political Science to examine economic, sociological, anthropological, and novelistic approaches. Our reading list is steep: we will read one book per week. Many of the books were previously dissertations, which will help us to understand the process of turning dissertations into books. Most of our authors will attend Zoom sessions to discuss their books with us.

The primary goals of this course are not only to survey the current scholarly literature on war and peace, and better understand the processes of writing dissertations and books, but also to hone the skill of writing a literature review. The first and very important step for any research project involves the survey, categorization, and analysis of the existing literature. With the central goal of understanding and writing literature reviews in sight, the main writing assignments are three analyses of the readings, and a 20-page literature review about a topic related to the themes of the course.

GOVT 260: International Security (Fall 2017)

This course provides an overview of the most pressing issues in international security today. The course is divided into three roughly chronological parts. Part 1: the Cold War and issues of bipolarity and nuclear deterrence; part 2: the end of the Cold War, and the themes of civil wars, peacekeeping, soft power, and gender and war; and part 3: the current post-9/11 era. The focus of the course is on part three, and in it we will examine such issues as terrorism, the rise of china, security in Africa, the human security debate, the doctrine of the “responsibility to protect,” peace enforcement, problems of children in war, resources and war, psychological insecurity, cyber security, and environmental security.

GOVT 363: Peacekeeping (Fall 2019)

Overview: This seminar explores historical and recent developments in peacekeeping. We will begin by studying the origins of civil wars, peacekeeping, peace enforcement, and peacebuilding. We then turn to contemporary theoretical and practical debates about the sources of effectiveness, the UN Security Council, regional peacekeeping organizations, gender in peacekeeping, and the protection of civilians. We will focus in depth on the concluded missions in Liberia, and the current interventions in the Central African Republic. Students will be invited to attend an SFS-sponsored workshop at Georgetown focusing on peacekeeping in Liberia with former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other top-level policy-makers. We conclude the course with an examination of recent reform efforts.

Learning Goals: The goals of this course are to survey and master the current debates in peacekeeping; to be able to discuss the issues of peacekeeping in a theoretically-informed, policy-relevant manner; to learn how to write a reading analysis; and to perfect the craft of writing an undergraduate-level research paper.

Course Requirements: Attendance is mandatory, and more than two absences may lead to a failing participation grade.  Assigned readings must be completed before class. Active participation in discussion is expected and will account for a large part of your grade (20 percent). Each student will be responsible for preparing discussion questions once during the semester (15 percent of grade). There will be three one-page writing assignments (20 percent), and a 25-page research paper (45 percent; draft paper counts as part of grade). No laptops are allowed in class unless by permission of instructor.  The paper will be submitted in hard copy and by Canvas. Further instructions will come in handouts. Do not reproduce or sell any materials from this course, as they are all under copyright.

GOVT 308: The United Nations (Spring 2021)

This seminar will explore the United Nations—its past, present, and future aspirations; its triumphs and challenges. We begin by studying the UN’s founding purposes, decolonization, and key components such as the General Assembly as well as some of its constitutive specialized agencies, funds, and programmes. We then turn to issues in international peace and security, such as the UN’s efforts at peacekeeping and stemming terrorism. In the final third of the semester, we will explore such topics as foreign aid and the sustainable development goals, UN Women, refugees and migration, climate change, global health, and UN reform.

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