Conflict and Security - PO934

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Brussels
(version 2)
Spring
View Timetable
7 20 (10) DR M Malksoo

Pre-requisites

None

Restrictions

None

2017-18

Overview

Security politics happens in between war and peace. Both are highly contested political concepts, as are 'conflict' and 'violence', that various theories try to decontest. The module explores the transformation of war in the contemporary era due to the disintegration of the state's monopoly on organised political violence. We will examine a diverse assortment of conflict constellations, including civil wars, counterinsurgencies and counterterrorist campaigns, along with information, cyber and hybrid warfare. What is the relationship between changes in military technology and the way particular wars are fought and justified, or conflicts managed and pacified? How to measure violence and conflict? Who has a responsibility to protect, and for whom are peace and security for? Ranging from the privatisation and commercialisation of organised political violence, globalisation and humanitarian wars, we examine the power and consequences of framing contemporary conflicts in particular ways. The module is divided in three main sections. First, we address the sources and causes of current conflicts in various hotspots across the globe. Second, we examine a variety of contemporary methods of conflict management and prevention. Third, we focus on the key question of ending conflicts and bringing peace, examining the premises and promises of democratic and liberal peace theories along with various transitional justice policies.

The aims of the module are as follows:
  • to present an overview of different concepts of and approaches to the management of international conflict and security issues;
  • to develop analytical tools for analysing and evaluating different strategies for managing conflicts and security threats, as perceived and articulated by various actors;
  • to demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of different strategies and encourage a reflexive reading of the normative dilemmas that may be included in political decisions;
  • to determine the conditions under which certain strategies of international management are more or less likely to succeed.

  • By the conclusion of the module, students will be able to:
  • explain and use key concepts in the theory and practice of international conflict and security
  • develop and apply criteria for the evaluation of different forms of international management of conflict and security issues
  • evaluate and explain success and failure of different international conflict and security management efforts
  • draw on a variety of sources of information on international conflicts and security issues, including on-line resources
  • appreciate the ethical and normative dilemmas in the management of international conflicts and security issues
  • identify current political challenges to international peace and security

  • Topics to be discussed:
  • How has war changed since the end of the Cold War?
  • Mapping contemporary conflicts and security against the bias of methodological nationalism
  • State fragility
  • Whose security?
  • Can conflicts be prevented?
  • Humanitarian wars and dilemmas. Responsibility to protect.
  • Terrorism, counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency
  • International law and the 'war on terror'. Ethics and the ambiguity of contemporary conflict
  • Cyber conflicts and hybrid wars in the information age
  • Conflicts over historical memory and state ontological security
  • Peacekeeping, peace-making, peace-building
  • Conflict resolution and legitimacy in the post-conflict setting
  • Transitional justice as a vehicle for peace-building in post-conflict settings
  • Details

    This module appears in:


    Availability

    Spring Term

    Method of assessment

    The assessment consists of an essay of approximately 5,000 words, made of an analysis of an ongoing crisis and section of relevant policy recommendations. Active participation in the seminars (including a case study presentation in class) are important steps in preparing for your final paper.

    Preliminary reading

    1. Barkawi, Tarak (2006) Globalization and War. Rowman and Littlefield.
    2. Bridoux, Jeff and Milja Kurki (2014) Democracy Promotion: A Critical Introduction. Abingdon: Routledge.
    3. Campbell, Susanna, David Chandler and Meera Sabaratnam (2011) A Liberal Peace? The Problem and Practices of Peacebuilding. London: Zed Books.
    4. Cramer, Christopher (2006) Civil War Is Not a Stupid Thing: Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries. London: Hurst & Co.
    5.Duffield, Mark (2014) Global Governance and the New Wars: The Merging of Development and Security. London and New York: Zed Books.
    6. Lebow, Richard Ned (2010) Why Nations Fight: Past and Future Motives for War. Cambridge: CUP.
    7. MacGinty R. 2006. No War, No Peace, The Rejuvenation of Stalled Peace Processes and Peace Accords. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
    8. Porch, Douglas (2013) Counterinsurgency: Exposing the Myths of the New Way of War. Cambridge: CUP.
    9. Richmond Oliver P. 2007. The Transformation of Peace. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
    10. Strachan, Hew and Sibylle Scheipers (eds) (2011) The Changing Character of War. Oxford University Press.

    See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

    See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

    Learning outcomes

    The intended subject specific learning outcomes and, as appropriate, their relationship to programme learning outcomes
    On successful completion of the module, students will be able to
    SLO1: Explain and use key concepts in the theory and practice of international conflict and security
    SLO2: Develop and apply criteria for the evaluation of different forms of international management of conflicts and of security issues
    SLO3: Evaluate and explain success and failure of different international efforts for managing contemporary conflicts and deal with security issues
    SLO4: Draw on a variety of sources of information on international conflicts and security issues, including on-line resources
    SLO5: Appreciate the ethical and normative dilemmas in the management of international conflicts and security issues
    SLO6: Identify current political challenges to international peace and security

    These specific learning outcomes contribute to achieving the learning outcomes of our post-graduate programme in International Conflict and Security by demonstrating knowledge of the following:
    A.1. key historical and theoretical issues in international conflict and the study of war and peace, together with familiarity with appropriate bibliographical sources (SLO1,2,3);
    A.2. how to apply general theoretical and conceptual frameworks to the analysis of specific conflicts and security issues (SLO1,2,3);
    A.3.the nature and distribution of power in the international systems; problems of political order; the social, economic, historical and cultural context within which actors operate (SLO2,3,4,5);
    A.4. the different kinds of actors on the international scene, their respective interests and influence in conflict and security related issues (SLO 2,3,4);
    A.6. current political challenges to international peace and security and possible strategies to address them (SLO 2,6);
    A.7. the changing role of the state in the context of globalisation and regional integration and the implications for international peace and security (SLO3,6);
    B.1. general research skills, especially bibliographic and computing skills (SLO1-6);
    B.2. gather, organize and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources (SLO1-6);
    B.3. identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems (SLO1-6);
    B.4. develop reasoned arguments, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement (SLO1-6)
    C.1. advanced understanding the nature and significance of conflict as a human condition (SLO1-6);
    C.2. ability to critically apply concepts, theories and methods used in the study of conflict to the analysis of political events, ideas, institutions and practices (SLO1,2,3,5,6);
    C.3. ability to critically evaluate different interpretations of political issues and events (SLO2,3,5)
    C.4. ability to collect, analyse and present information about conflict and political events (SLO 2,3,4,6)
    C.5. awareness of the epistemological issues relevant to research in the social sciences, including the major theoretical and epistemological debates in the social sciences, as they bear on international conflict analysis (SLO1,5)
    D.1. Communication: communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing (including, where appropriate, the use of IT); organise information clearly and coherently; use communication and information technology for the retrieval and presentation of information, including, where appropriate, statistical or numerical information (SLO4)
    D.5. Problem solving: identify and define problems; explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them (SLO2,3,5,6)

    The intended generic learning outcomes and, as appropriate, their relationship to programme learning outcomes
    Students who successfully complete this module:
    GLO1: will be able to work with theoretical knowledge at the forefront of their discipline
    GLO2: will be aware of the ethical dimensions of the scholarly work done in their discipline in general as well as of their own work in particular
    GLO3: will have a comprehensive understanding of methods and methodologies in their discipline
    GLO4: will be able to undertake analysis of complex, incomplete or contradictory areas of knowledge
    GLO5: will have a level of conceptual understanding that will allow them to critically evaluate research, advanced scholarship and methodologies and argue alternative approaches
    GLO6: will be reflective and self-critical in their research work
    GLO7: will be able to engage in academic and professional communication orally and in writing
    GLO8: will have independent learning ability required for continuing professional study

    By helping students to progress towards these subject-specific outcomes, the module contributes to achieving the following International Conflict and Security Programme Learning Outcomes (PLO):
    A.1. key historical and theoretical issues in international conflict and the study of war and peace, together with familiarity with appropriate bibliographical sources (GLO1,4);
    A.2. how to apply general theoretical and conceptual frameworks to the analysis of specific conflicts and security issues (GLO1,3,4,5);
    A.5. key theoretical problems of war and peace (GLO1);
    A.8. how to design and conduct a research project demonstrating awareness of epistemological and methodological principles (GLO2,3,4,5,6,7);
    A.9. how to carry out an independent research project and write in a scholarly manner demonstrating familiarity with academic conventions (GLO1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)
    B.1. general research skills, especially bibliographic and computing skills (GLO3,8);
    B.3. identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems (GLO3,4,5,6,7,8);
    B.4. develop reasoned arguments, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement (GLO2,3,4,5,6)
    B.6. manage their own learning self-critically (GLO6)
    C.1. advanced understanding the nature and significance of conflict as a human condition (GLO1,4);
    C.2. ability to critically apply concepts, theories and methods used in the study of conflict to the analysis of political events, ideas, institutions and practices (GLO1,2,3,4,5);
    C.3. ability to critically evaluate different interpretations of political issues and events (GLO4,5);
    C.5. awareness of the epistemological issues relevant to research in the social sciences, including the major theoretical and epistemological debates in the social sciences, as they bear on international conflict analysis (GLO1,2,4,5)
    D.1. Communication: communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing (including, where appropriate, the use of IT); organise information clearly and coherently; use communication and information technology for the retrieval and presentation of information, including, where appropriate, statistical or numerical information (GLO6,7,8);
    D.4. Improving own learning: explore personal strengths and weaknesses; time management; review working environment (especially student-staff relationship); develop autonomy in learning; work independently, demonstrating initiative and self-organisation. Important research management skills include the setting of appropriate timescales for different stages of the research with clear starting and finishing dates (through a dissertation); presentation of a clear statement of the purposes and expected results of the research; and developing appropriate means of estimating and monitoring resources and use of time (GLO6,7,8);
    D.5. Problem solving: identify and define problems; explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them (GLO5,6,8).

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