Our Courses

Course Credits

POL 516A - Strategic Nonviolent Conflict

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.

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POL 519 - Terrorism and Counterterrorism

This course addresses how the formation of the state has been affected by war and will be increasingly affected by more modern security concerns such as terrorism.  Graduate-level requirements include reading three additional documents and critically reviewing them as instructed.

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POL 520A - How Terrorism Ends

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. 

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POL 528A - Democracy and Peace

The course broadly examines the promotion of democracy abroad as a foreign policy strategy.  The primary objective of the course is to investigate this strategy by evaluating comparative politics explanations for democratization globally as well as international relations theories on the relationship between democratic governance and international security and peace.

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POL 530A - Dynamics of Civil Wars

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.
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POL 540A - Global Political Economy

This course considers the ways in which the global economy has become intertwined with domestic politics, especially in developing and non-OECD states.  We will examine global economic forces, including trade, international finance, and migration through the lens of globalization.  In particular, this course explores the ways in which these global factors affect the domestic politics in much of the world, which can have profound public policy and security implications. 
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POL 542A - Topics in European Security

This course examines the various challenges the EU faces as it seeks to address the euro crisis and efforts to create a stronger international profile. We first examine the main institutions of the EU. Next, we will look at economic and monetary integration and EU's external relations with the U.S., China, and Latin America.

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POL 544A - International Relations of Sub-Saharan Africa

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.

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POL 546A - Politics of Islamism

Political Islamism 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? Starting with extremist groups in the Middle East, we will examine the historical evolution and current dynamics of Islamist extremist groups in Central Asia, Caucasus, Southeast Asia, Africa and the West respectively.

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POL 550A - Research Design in the Social Sciences

The aim of this course is to establish the necessary skills for the evaluation and execution of social science research. The scientific method provides a framework for building knowledge, but the application of the scientific method to the study of social phenomena poses several serious challenges.  In this course, we will introduce the fundamentals of sound social scientific research design.

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POL 551 - Soviet and Post-Soviet Foreign Policy

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 (FSU) countries.

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POL 553A - Media and International Affairs

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?

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POL 555 - American Foreign Policy

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

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POL 556A - Issues in Cybersecurity and Cyberwar

Countries such as the US, China, and Russia that once were separated by great distances are now connected by cyber at the speed of light.  This change requires us to rethink what we know about security, international relations, and war.  To complicate matters, the Internet has instantiated differently in different States due to bureaucratic, political, cultural, and economic factors and has shaped each State in different ways.  Understanding these cyber-differences is critical for understanding the role of networks in Security for each State and the role of “attribution”, “retaliation”, and “deterrence” in State-relations.

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POL 557A - The Politics of Cybersecurity

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.

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POL 559A - Comparing US and EU Democracy Promotion Policy in the MENA region

The course starts with a discussion of the key concepts of democracy promotion and continues by analyzing how these efforts have influenced the construction of democratic institutions and practices in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Ironically, both the U.S and EU engage in democracy promotion, without coordinating their respective measures, and their programs occasionally contradict each other.  The goal of the course is to critically reflect on why democracy promotion efforts differ between the EU and the US and what the implications are of the current programs in existence in the region.

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POL 561A - Security: The Evolution of a Concept

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.

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PA 561A - Climate Change: Science, Policy, and Security

Global climate change is widely considered the greatest threat confronting societies and governments today. Over the last decade a consensus has developed among natural and physical scientists over the likely causes of global climate change. Businesses, governments, and citizens have begun to respond by developing a variety of strategies, policies, and institutional arrangements designed to reduce human contributions to climate change and promote adaptation to the environmental impacts that are beginning to emerge.These policy responses are truly diverse in form and scale, from voluntary carbon markets and business certification programs, to command and control type regulations, to international treaties.

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POL 562A - Natural Resources and International Security in Latin America

This course will discuss how the management of other natural resources in Latin America affect or are likely to affect international security in the forthcoming decades. Latin America is a large geographical area well-endowed with natural resources that are usually poorly regulated, which results in high levels of domestic and international conflict among myriad actors, both governmental and non-governmental. In this course, students will learn about the ongoing international struggles that result from national governments’ efforts to secure access to valuable freshwater resources, maintain the quality of their arable land, mine minerals of strategic importance (uranium, lithium, gold, among others), and protect biodiversity.

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POL 563A - Gender as a Component of International Security

This course charts the progress of the recognition that gender is an important part of any discourse about security.  A brief historical overview will set the context for rape as a weapon of war and attempts to mitigate this historical fact. One focus of the course is on the U.N. Tribunals. The second focus is on the effect of gender equality on human security, economic prosperity, and national stability.

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POL 564 - International Relations of East Asia

This course will examine and analyze a host of current international relations issues in the East Asia region, with an emphasis on United States foreign policy.

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POL 565A - International Politics of the Middle East

This course is designed to introduce you to the international politics of the Middle East and therefore, provides a general overview of some of the main issues of contemporary Middle Eastern politics. As a result, we will examine the interplay of numerous factors that help us to better understand and to critically analyze the politics of the Middle East. These factors include the impact of colonialism, nationalism and nation-state formation, regional crises, the Arab-Israeli conflict, political economy, and the influence of superpowers in the region.

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POL 567A - Emerging Powers in the Global System

This course offers analytical tools to investigate the nature of modern international system, to explain the logic of emerging multipolar world, to analyze the role of rising Great Powers and Regional Powers in the modern geopolitical architecture. The central focus of the course will be on Russia, China, Iran, and Turkey, and on their foreign policy strategies in a global and regional context. Special attention will be paid to various versions of the New Silk Road and to other modern geopolitical initiatives.

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POL 569A - Armed Conflict

This course surveys interstate and intrastate war. It considers  the concept of armed conflict  and the empirical trends in armed conflict across time and space. Theoretical and empirical work will address the question of why armed conflict occurs and what explains the onset of war, as well as what explains the war’s severity, duration and conclusion.

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PA 579 - Intelligence and US National Security

The course provides students with a framework for understanding how intelligence supports the formulation and execution of US national security policy. It will focus on the following issues: what intelligence is and why it is a potentially important tool  for the President and other national-level policymakers; what US organizations provide intelligence; and how intelligence is produced and introduced into the policy process.

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POL 580A - Mexican National Security

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.
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POL 581A - Domestic Politics and American Foreign Policy

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.
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POL 588A - The Politics of Energy Security in Eurasia

Energy has long been a major factor in the formation of a country's military and commercial strategies, the exercise of national power, and in determining the shape of the international system. As both concerns about oil supply and pressures to reduce carbon emissions intensify, countries are struggling to put their energy policies in the broader context of their grand strategies.  This course will focus on Russia's energy politics, its impact on Europe and the repercussions for the US.

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POL 695A - Professional Colloquium

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 MA degree. 

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