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.

Spring 2023, Session 2 (March 6th - April 30th)

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: 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

This course will focus on energy policy and energy security understood in the context of global and Eurasian politics and international relations. The course offers different perceptions of energy security in importing and exporting nations, and aims at identifying contemporary developments in providing energy security on global, regional and national levels.

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. 

Summer 2023, Session 1 (May 8th - July 2nd)

Instructor: Chad Westerland

 The US Constitution structures and defines the powers of the United States. However, constitutions, almost by definition, do not always provide the details for how the various powers that are created are to be used in practice. At various junctures in American history, responses to security threats, both traditional and non-traditional, have created constitutional dilemmas for the US Government. In this course, we will explore how the US Supreme Court has attempted to resolve the constitutional conflicts over how foreign affairs are conducted by the United States. We will examine the justifications for the specific constitutional powers of both the legislative and executive branches and the potential sources of conflict that these powers create. Finally, we also explore the ways in which the presence of armed conflict or security crises shape constitutional law within the United States.

Overview of the role of intelligence in the formulation and execution of US national security policy. Will include a detailed look at challenges facing both the analysis of intelligence information and the introduction of that analysis into the national security policy process. Will also entail close reading and discussion of selected declassified intelligence documents. Graduate-level requirements include Huerer, Richards J. 1999. Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, CSI. Selected articles and declassified intelligence documents: TBD.

Instructor: Jeff Kucik

This course focuses on the role international organizations (IOs) play in contemporary global politics. IOs have become an increasingly common feature of the political landscape. Institutions shape state behavior in areas such as trade, security, the environment, and human rights. The course provides background on the historical development of major multilateral IOs. We pay special attention to how institutions are designed. We then assess each organization's performance record. Specific questions include: Does UN peacekeeping promote post-war stability? Is the ICC an effective tool for protecting human rights? How do the IMF and World Bank approach global development?

Summer 2023, Session 2 (July 3rd - August 27th)

Instructor: Michael Burgoyne

Policy and strategy development is perhaps the most critical function of the national security apparatus. The results of the policy process provide the blueprint for the array of agencies and departments that execute U.S. national security. Strategy can be narrowly defined in military terms or expanded into grand strategy integrating all of the elements of national power (Diplomatic, Information, Military, Economic, Finance, Intelligence, Law Enforcement). A review of classic strategists including Clausewitz and Sun Tzu will build a foundation upon which modern strategists like Mao Tse-Tung and Schelling add insurgency and nuclear game theory. This course will examine the definitions of policy and strategy, survey the structure and players at the top of the U.S. national security system, and provide the analytical tools for strategy development. Finally, the course will examine the strategy behind the Cold War containment of the Soviet Union and contrast it with the War on Terror strategy which has had suboptimal results. Throughout the course, students will work together as an interagency team to develop a strategy that addresses a current U.S. national security issue. Leveraging an understanding of the nature of strategy and the structure of the national security system, students will build practical experience culminating in the presentation of their strategy.

Instructor: Anne Boustead

While the development of the internet has  transformed society, not all of these changes have been positive. In addition to facilitating rapid economic and social exchange, the internet has also transformed how we navigate security, conflict, and criminal activities. Careful regulation of the internet can maximize social benefits while disincentivizing harmful activity. However, identifying, implementing, and evaluating these regulations requires a combination of technology and policy expertise, as well as the ability to engage with decisionmakers in both the public and private sector in the international domain. This course will both explore the tools used to conduct policy analysis and apply those tools to a wide variety of cyber-related policy problems.  

Instructor: Judith McDaniel

Traditionally, security has meant freedom from military attack and has been synonymous with national security. More recently, the concept has expanded to include relationships among nation states that affect international security. Environmental and economic concerns have also become part of the fabric of international security as a global village begins to recognize that no crisis affects only one state or one region.

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. 

Fall 2023, Session 1 (August 28th - October 22nd)

Instructor: Daniel Arnon

Designed as an introductory course to the field of international security, this course has three main aims: first, to provide an overview of the major theories, concepts, and debates in international security. Second, to lay the foundations for elective ISS classes. Third, to introduce current and future security challenges faced by the U.S. and its allies.  The course will tackle questions such as: what is "security" and how should we study and measure it? How have security problems changed over time? What are the causes of war and peace? When should states employ force? And what are the prospects for national and international security in the 21st century.

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.

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: Matias Bianchi

The course will examine connections between politics and economics beyond the single nation state, with an emphasis on policy implications in the 21st century. Students will be introduced to; free market (AKA liberal, neoclassical); institutionalist (AKA pluralist, multi-centric  organizational); and historical materialist (AKA Marxist, structuralist). Each perspective will be presented by specifying its particular thought 'model', underlying assumptions, and application to real-world issues. The course will compare and contrast these perspectives with respect to core global political economy (GPE) issues such as trade, finance, transnational corporations, development and environmental sustainability.

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: 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: 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 2023, Session 2 (October 23rd - December 17th)

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: 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.

Instructor: Robert Wells

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.

Instructor: Saskia Popescu

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.  

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. 

Spring 2024, Session 1