Course Schedule

You can choose from courses in several thematic tracks. Visit our course schedule to see which courses are currently being offered.

All courses are three credits, with the exception of the capstone. POL 695A is one credit.

Fall 2021, Session 1 (August 30 - October 24)

Instructor: Frank Gonzalez

Ultimately, all political phenomena, including issues related to international security, boil down to interactions between humans - usually, groups of humans. As such, people's lay theories and beliefs about how humans think and make decisions in groups significantly affect how they approach political issues, including those related to international security. Research on group psychology offers a means of informing, critically evaluating, and improving these lay theories and beliefs. Decades of research have been done in the fields of social and political psychology on how groups of people interact with one another, why interactions between and within groups often become hostile or counter-productive, and how interactions between and within groups can be adjusted in ways that encourage cooperation and peace. In this course, we will seek to understand, broadly: why do groups sometimes conflict and sometimes cooperate with one another? We will start by broadly reviewing what psychologists have discovered regarding inter- and intra-group behavior. Students will then learn about what small-scale laboratory research has told us about when and why conflict versus cooperation might result from group interactions. Next, we will spend considerable time examining how this research has been applied to understanding a range of international security issues, including war and peace, ethnic conflict, terrorism, genocide, international trade, foreign aid, immigration, and refugees. Assignments will require students to critically evaluate their own as well as others' understandings of how group psychology influences contemporary international security issues and come up with concrete, novel ways in which group psychology might inform efforts to handle international security issues now and in the future.

Instructor: Kirssa Ryckman

There are numerous historical cases of strategic nonviolent conflict, also called civil resistance or people power, with dynamic and recent examples from across the Middle East and North Africa during the Arab Spring. Yet while the study of violence has long defined the field of international security, scholars have only recently began to examine the causes and effects of nonviolent conflict. This course is designed to overview these movements of nonviolent, antigovernment dissent, including their emergence, movement dynamics, and outcomes.

Instructor: Paulette Kurzer

This course offers an introduction to the political systems of post-World War II Europe. Using a country-by-country approach, the course focuses specifically on Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and East-Central Europe. It also contains a unit on the institutions and policies of European Union. We will take a closer look at the impact of immigration on European society, the interaction between domestic and European institutions, the debates on economic reforms and market liberalization in different countries, and the relationship between the EU and the US. 

Instructor: Jennifer Cyr

This course examines the relationship between democracy and security. Each week, students will learn about how democracy interacts one of many different security challenges. We will conceive of security broadly and, therefore, will consider how democracies fare when it comes to: war, crime, human security, corruption, and the military as an institution.

Instructor: Chris Weber

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the mass media, and the role the mass media plays in American democracy. In this course, we will consider several key questions pertain- ting to the role of the media in democracy, such as: What effects do mass mediated messages have on voters? Do voters passively accept information found in the media, or do voters actively challenge this information?  How do journalists and political elites interact?

Instructor: Eva-Maria Maggi

This course provides an introduction to the democracy promotion policy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as developed by the US and European Union (EU). The course starts with discussing the key concepts of democracy promotion and continues by analyzing how these influenced democracy promotion efforts from the US as well as the EU. Both global powers have been engaged in promoting democracy throughout the MENA region with various degrees of success and often in contradicting terms.

Instructor: Paul Schuler

National interests, issues and conflicts, relations, and influence of domestic politics in interstate relations in East Asia. Graduate-level requirements include an additional research paper.

Fall 2021, Session 2 (October 25 - December 19)

This course is intended to be a survey of the literature addressing international politics in sub-Saharan Africa. Beginning with pre-colonial contexts and working through to present challenges facing African states and the international community more broadly, we will learn about a variety of topics concerning African politics.

Instructor: Tolga Turker

Islamist extremism has been a focus of policy makers in the post- 9/11 era. However, before concrete strategies can be formulated to deal with this concern, the nature and dynamics of Islamist mobilization itself must be understood. To do that, this course will benefit from the knowledge generated through years of study in different parts of the world and in various disciplines in identifying: What is it? What causes it? What motivates an individual to join an Islamist group and possibly use violence? Under what conditions will these groups moderate, and when will they radicalize? Overall this course is designed as a resource for students of political science and international security studies as well as broad audiences in the social sciences seeking to understand the emergence, evolution, and possible futures of what commonly called political Islam.

Instructor: Pat Willerton

Surveys Russian power capabilities, foreign policy, and engagement of the world system. Attention to the Soviet period, but focus on the post-1991 era. Relations with the U.S., Germany, and China are highlighted, as are relations with former Soviet Union countries.

Analysis of the Cold War; Congressional-Executive clashes over foreign policy control; approaches to policy analysis.

Instructor: Karen Siderelis

Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) is a specialized field of practice within the broader domain of intelligence. The discipline encompasses all activities involved in the collection, use and dissemination of geographically referenced information (imagery, imagery intelligence and geospatial information) using technical capabilities that include remote sensing, GIS, data management, and data visualization. GEOINT processes and capabilities are designed to gain intelligence about the national security or an operational environment, visually depict this knowledge, combine the knowledge with other information sources, and present knowledge in a way that is appropriate to the decision-making environment. GEOINT supports key mission areas related to the national security of the U.S. including informing policymakers; supporting military, intelligence, and homeland security operations, and facilitating intelligence collaboration. While the GEOINT discipline is secretive in operations, this course presents publicly available unclassified information to describe its use, benefits and governance.

Instructor: Michael Burgoyne

Mexico and the United States have always shared a complex relationship. The current one is full of hope for expanding economic opportunity and plagued by fears driven by internal violence. Mexico is the third largest trading partner with the US with nearly 270 billion in trade in 2014; that amounts to a million dollars crossing the border every minute. Conversely, the fight against organized crime has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 2006 and there are nearly 25,000 people reported as disappeared. 2015 also marked a historic change in international engagement, with President Enrique Pena Nieto announcing a new peace keeping mission for the Mexican armed forces. Understanding the unique Mexican security situation and the Mexican perspective of security policy is critical for academics and policymakers that deal with this complex US-Mexican relationship. The course will include lecturers from the Mexican academic community and Mexican security forces.

The evolution of infectious diseases into a global security threat isn’t particularly novel but became official when the United Nations recognized HIV/AIDS as a security threat. As the world becomes more interconnected and humans encroach on natural habits, emerging infectious diseases, like COVID-19 and Ebola, have underscored the ability for diseases to severely impact critical infrastructure. Since the realization that infectious diseases pose unique threats to the stability of nation states, the notion of global health security was development as an approach to understanding and studying these unique vulnerabilities. Biodefense, biopreparedness, and biothreats are all increasingly used terminologies and studies that play into the security dynamics of infectious diseases. We will examine the concepts of global health security, as well as the spectrum of threats, which include natural, accidental, and intentional biological events.  

Spring 2022, Session 1 (January 10 - March 6)

Instructor: Kirssa Ryckman

This course addresses the political causes and consequences of the use of terrorist violence as well as the variety of methods employed by the state in response to this violence. Graduate-level requirements include reading three additional documents and critically reviewing them as instructed.

Instructor: Alex Braithwaite

This course is intended to be a survey of the political science literature’s understandings about how terrorist campaigns come to a close.  Prior to tackling questions of the end of terrorism head-on, we will first survey the literatures on definitions and theories of terrorism. Our survey of the various fates of terrorist groups and campaigns will explore; how governments use force to try to end terrorism, occasions when governments and terrorist participate in negotiations to find a solution to their incompatibility, outcomes in which groups achieve victory or are defeated, and scenarios in which groups opt to reorient away from violence into other legal and illegal activities. 

Instructor: Eva-Maria Maggi

This course provides an introduction to the politics of cybersecurity in the U.S. as well as the European Union (EU). Starting with a discussion of key concepts of cybersecurity, the class continues to analyze how U.S. and EU cybersecurity policy making differ. Recently, both the U.S. and EU passed new cybersecurity legislation laying different emphasis on privacy protection, crime prevention and the involvement of tech businesses in the policy process through public private partnerships. Why are the U.S. and Europe applying different approaches to cybersecurity policy? The goal of the course is to answer this question by comparing the institutions, actors and process of cybersecurity policy making in the U.S. and the EU. While both follow different approaches to cybersecurity policy as such, they agree on the need of enhanced international cooperation on the issue. The course ends with a unit on the current state of cybersecurity cooperation across the Atlantic and the implications of the politics of cybersecurity on the future of transatlantic relationship.

Instructor: Christina Sciabarra

This course is designed to give you an overview of armed conflict in its many forms, with a focus on interstate and intrastate war. The course will begin by considering the concept of armed conflict and its many forms, and the empirical trends in armed conflict across time and space. Theoretical and empirical work will then be drawn upon to address the question of why armed conflict occurs and what explains the onset of war, as well as what explains the conduct of opposition forces during war along with war's severity, duration and conclusion.

Instructor: Barbara Norrander

Domestic politics and foreign policy were once considered to be separate entities, such as in the old fashioned statement that governments could afford either “guns or butter.” A more contemporary account notes the various ways that domestic politics and foreign policy are intertwined. Domestic politics shapes the foreign policy decisions of a country, and foreign policy often impinges on domestic politics. Topics covered in this class will include the role of the president, Congress, the bureaucracy and the courts in determining foreign policy. Conflicts and cooperation between these government entities will be highlighted. How public opinion and interest groups influence foreign policy also will be covered. Finally, the effects of foreign policy decisions on domestic politics will be considered. Upon completion of this course, students will have a fuller understanding of how domestic politics and foreign policy are intertwined

Instructor: Nick Thorne

This course examines the international arms trade from several perspectives and at different levels of analysis. The purpose of the course is to acquaint students in the with the literature, questions, and debates about the role that military equipment and technology plays in international relations.

Spring 2022, Session 2 (March 7 - May 1)

Instructor: Michael Burgoyne

In U.S. policy and strategy documents, Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) has been identified as a threat to American national security. The growing consensus is that globalization with its associated revolutions in communications and transportation has greatly enhanced the capabilities and power of Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs). Understanding the diverse criminal groups, their methodologies, and their networks is the critical first step in developing effective policies to confront them.

Instructor: Lisa Sanchez

U.S. Immigration policy is vast and complex. Passed at the federal and state level and implemented at the local level, immigration policies have a myriad of consequences- intended and unintended. We will explore the various types of immigration policies, their goals, and consequences with an eye toward evaluating their efficacy. In particular, we will consider immigration policy from the perspective of border flows- who and what flow across our borders and the ability of the U.S. government to control those flows.  We will also consider the historical and political context underpinning immigration policy today as well as explore the feasibility and need for reforms in the future.

Instructor: Jessica Maves Braithwaite

This course is intended to be a survey of the general dynamics of civil wars, with a complementary focus on this form of unrest as it plays out in African countries. Modules address various aspects of civil wars (e.g. onset, duration, termination, recurrence, ethnicity, natural resources), and then examines those aspects in the context of a conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. Students will have an opportunity to explore in-depth a conflict of their choosing, applying the general theories covered in class to their specific civil war of choice.

Instructor: Jennifer Cyr

Latin America is a region that faces multiple political, social, and economic challenges. Some of these are cross-cutting, including the very real problems of crime and violence. In Latin America, crime and violence are common occurrences. They have multiple sources and have wide ranging impact. We will consider the causes of crime and violence, as perpetrated by state and non-state actors, as well as violence toward particular groups. We will also examine how countries address crime and violence and the extent to which reform is possible.

Instructor: Matias Bianchi

The digital revolution is changing politics. From Barack Obama's use of the Internet to drive his presidential campaign, to the upheaval of the Arab Spring and the emergence of new social movements like #OccupyWallStreet, digital technology is challenging and changing established institutions on a number of fronts. This course introduces students to the history of the Internet and the emerging technologies that are defining the Digital Age. It places emphasis on the role of technology in politics and its implications for democracy and citizen rights. The course will cover a wide range of issues related to governance of the internet, privacy and security, the role of the media and open source development.

Instructor: Mikhail Beznosov

The purpose of this course is to analyze critically the emergence of China and India as state powers in the global system and the implications of this evolution for the United States and Europe, including countries in and neighboring the European Union (EU).

Instructor: Paulette Kurzer

Final paper project for ISS Masters with presentation and discussion. Capstone project, in which students develop a portfolio that overviews their academic work in the context of their professional goals. This should be taken as the final course of the M.A. degree.