Web page: http://www.gsu.edu/~poljsd
COURSE OBJECTIVES The problems of military conflict and security and the ways in which political communities have responded to them have greatly shaped the course of human events. Not surprisingly, they have also long been the object of scholarly attention, dating back at least to Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. Since World War II, the scholarly literature on the subject has grown in size geometrically, reflecting both the development of new perspectives for understanding conflicts of the past and the changing face of military conflict and international security in the present.
The first objective of POLS 8470 is to introduce graduate students to the literature in political science on violent conflict and security, especially their international dimensions. Which conceptual, theoretical, and empirical questions have dominated the writings of international relations scholars (and which have been neglected or overlooked)? How have scholars sought to address these questions, both theoretically and methodologically? What answers have they offered, and how satisfactory are those answers?
Conflict and security constitute important components of the broader field of international relations within political science. As such, familiarity with the relevant literature(s) is useful, if not essential, for successful teaching and research in the field. From a more practical standpoint, it may prove helpful in completing the requirements of the graduate program in political science.
The second principal purpose of the course is to promote the development of each student as an active scholar. To this end, students will be required to engage in many of the activities associated with scholarship: critically analyzing the work of other scholars, identifying a promising research topic, researching the topic, drafting a paper based on the research conducted, and revising the paper as necessary.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING There is no prerequisite for admission to the course for graduate students in the Department of Political Science, and others may be admitted with the permission of the instructor. It is advisable, however, that students have taken POLS 8400 (International Politics) or the equivalent.
POLS 8470 will meet one time per week. Class meetings will typically consist of a guided discussion of the assigned readings and related materials.
Final grades will be based on the following:
o Attendance and participation (20%): One-third of a grade point (3.3%) will be deducted for each unexcused absence. The instructor should be notified of all absences in advance, except where this is clearly impossible. A student who misses more than three classes without permission may be dropped from the course. Students are expected
(1) to read all assigned texts carefully and thoughtfully prior to the meeting at which they will be discussed,
(2) to attend all class meetings (even if you feel you don’t have much to say, you will profit from listening to the discussion), and
(3) to participate as actively as possible in class discussion.
In addition, students will be responsible for leading the discussion for the assigned readings (one student per reading). Assignments will be determined one week in advance on a rotating basis, and each responsible student should bring copies for everyone of a one-page summary of the reading that addresses the following questions:
(1) What is the main purpose of the piece? What does it attempt to do?
(2) How does the piece go about tackling the problem? What methods does the author employ?
(3) What are the principal arguments or findings of the piece?
o Four short critical analyses of supplementary readings (40%): Each analysis should be 4-6 pages in length and focus on an article or book of interest to the student that pertains to a given week’s topic. (For suggestions, see the additional readings listed below.) It should first describe the purpose of the work, the approach taken by the author(s), and the work’s findings and then provide a critical discussion of the work’s strengths and weaknesses, drawing comparisons with other readings as appropriate. The analyses should be submitted (electronically or in hard copy) to the instructor by 12 noon on the day of the relevant seminar, and at least two should be submitted prior to the semester midpoint (October 15). Questions you might wish to answer include: How important is the issue the work seeks to address? How appropriate to the objective is the methodology and how well-executed is it? How significant are the findings and how much confidence can we have in their validity?
o Research paper (40%): Each student will prepare a research paper on a topic of his/her own choosing. The course places so much emphasis on this assignment because such activity is the essence of contemporary scholarship in political science. Consequently, students contemplating careers in the field should become familiar with and begin engaging in these activities at an early stage in their graduate training.
The research paper may take several possible forms: (1) an extended critical review of the literature (especially recent books and articles) on a particular topic, (2) an in-depth examination of a central concept in the field, (3) an original piece of theoretical and/or empirical research, or (4) a full proposal and research design for a more extensive research project (e.g., MA thesis, dissertation). Options (3) and (4) will typically involve framing a research question, summarizing the relevant literature, deriving hypotheses to be tested, elaborating an appropriate research design for testing the hypotheses, and, in the case of (3), executing the research design and analyzing the findings. Each student will determine the nature and topic of the research paper in consultation with me.
Students should bear in mind the following requirements and deadlines:
1. Preparation and approval of a paper proposal: Students will take the initiative in identifying a paper topic, although I will be available for advice and consultation. A written proposal (1-2 pp.) should be submitted no later than the October 10 class meeting (and preferably earlier), with the intention of having an approved proposal prior to the semester mid-point.
2. Preparation of a first draft (10%): The first draft should represent your best effort, prior to the receipt of feedback. Consequently, you will have until November 7 to submit it (although you are welcome and encouraged to do so earlier). I will provide written comments on the first draft within one week.
3. Preparation of a final draft (30%): Final drafts are due by 5 pm on December 12, and should be approximately 20-40 pages in length.
In evaluating student performance, I will employ the grading system described in the GSU Catalog:
A = Excellent (4.0)
B = Good (3.0)
C = Average (2.0)
D = Poor (but passing) (1.0)
F = Failure (0.0)
The Department of Political Science currently uses plus-minus grading. Accordingly, I will award grades on a plus (+) and minus ( ) scale in order to distinguish among performances of differing quality within these broad categories.
READINGS All of the readings will take the form of journal articles and book chapters. The following abbreviations of journal titles are used below:
EJIR = European Journal of International Relations
II = International Interactions
IO = International Organization
IS = International Security
ISQ = International Studies Quarterly
JCR = Journal of Conflict Resolution
JOP = Journal of Politics
JPR = Journal of Peace Research
PRQ = Political Research Quarterly
PSQ = Political Science Quarterly
SS = Security Studies
WP = World Politics
WPJ = World Policy Journal
WQ = Washington Quarterly
The book chapters are available on the GSU electronic reserves system (Eres). The password is DP8470???. The journal articles are available on-line through JSTOR or the GSU Electronic Journal Locator.
OTHER COURSE POLICIES This course syllabus provides only a general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary.
Email: I communicate regularly with students by email. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will use your “student.gsu.edu” email address. Please check your GSU email account on a regular basis or arrange for email to be forwarded to the account that you normally use.
Academic Honesty: The Georgia State University policy on Academic Honesty applies to all assignments in this course. Students are responsible for being familiar with the policy, which is available at Forms of academic dishonesty include cheating on exams, unauthorized collaboration, multiple submissions, and plagiarism. Plagiarism includes any paraphrasing or summarizing of the works of another person without acknowledgment, including the submission of another student’s work as one’s own.
Withdrawals: The last day to withdraw from the course with the possibility of receiving a “W” is Monday, October 15, the semester midpoint. After that date, instructors must give a “WF” to all students who are on their rolls but no longer taking the class. Students who are involuntarily withdrawn may petition the department chair for reinstatement. “W”s and “WF”s can have serious adverse consequences. Hardship withdrawals may be granted after the midpoint when nonacademic emergency situations prevent a student from completing their course work. Hardship withdrawals are subject to restrictions, which are spelled out in the GSU Catalog.
Incompletes: An Incomplete (I) may be given to a student who for nonacademic reasons beyond his or her control is unable to meet the full requirements of the course. In order to qualify for an I, a student must (a) have completed most of the major assignments of the course (generally all but one) and (b) be earning a passing grade in the course (aside from the assignments not completed) in the judgement of the instructor. Further information on Incompletes is available in the GSU Catalog.
Students with Disabilities: If you have any disability which may impair your ability to successfully complete this course, please let me know during the first week of class. Once you do, we will take steps to make arrangements (e.g., accommodations) through appropriate university offices. For more information, contact the Office of Disability Services (230 Student Center, 404 463 9044).
SCHEDULE OF ASSIGNMENTS AND CLASSES I. (week 1)
Course overview: subject matter, objectives, requirements, readings and resources
Why study military conflict and international security?
How should they be studies?
C. Crocker, F. Hampson, and P. Aall, Managing Global Chaos: Sources of and Responses to International Conflict (USIP, 1996)
J. Nye, Understanding International Conflicts (Harper Collins, 1999)
J. Vasquez, The War Puzzle (Cambridge, 1993)
R. Betts, ed., Conflict after the Cold War: Arguments on Causes of War and Peace (Macmillan, 1994)
F. Harvey and B. Mor, Conflict in World Politics: Advances in the Study of Crisis, War, and Peace (St. Martin’s, 1998)
II. Preliminaries A. (week 2)
What issues should be covered by security studies? Non-traditional threats and concerns such as environmental security and human security? What are the dangers of too narrow a definition? Too broad a definition?