PSCI 4821: International Conflict

Dr. Paul Hensel
Office: 165 Wooten Hall

Please note that this web page is not the full syllabus for this course. The remainder of the syllabus -- most notably the schedule of assigned readings, course exams, and other assignments -- is only available in the full syllabus (in PDF format). Be sure to print out that complete syllabus and be familiar with it, so that you do not fall behind or miss any assignments during the semester.

Course Description

This course is meant to examine the conditions that make for war and peace in world politics, as well as the range of possible solutions that might help to prevent this problem in the future. The course begins with an examination of historical patterns and trends in modern warfare. Later sections of the course then examine the causes or correlates of war between nation-states, the outcomes and consequences of war, and a variety of solutions that have been offered to help prevent or limit war.

Students are expected to finish the course readings before the start of the class period for which they are assigned, and participate actively in class discussion. The course will be graded based on two (non-cumulative) essay examinations; eleven quizzes that are meant to measure preparation for class; and five 2-3 page analytical papers.

Upon completion of this course, students should be familiar with many of the factors that seem to create, worsen, or reduce military conflict between nation-states. Students should be able to apply these factors in examining real-world scenarios, such as studying historical cases of war or assessing the prospects for future conflict in troubled areas of the world. This course will help you develop several important learning objectives that will help you in your career. Several analytical papers, which are focused on drawing lessons from current news stories about topics covered in the course, will help you develop analytical skills and bridge between current events, theories, and evidence from scholarly research. These papers and the two essay exams will also help you develop written communication skills and critical thinking skills, as you apply theoretical topics covered in the course; these exams will ask you to use course topics to understand and evaluate situations in international conflict, rather than just memorizing and repeating facts from a book.

Required Texts

Course Requirements

Rest of Syllabus

The remainder of the syllabus -- course rules, notes about the academic honor code and the Americans with Disabilities Act, assigned readings, and details about the research papers -- is only available in the complete syllabus (in PDF format). Be sure to print out that complete syllabus and be familiar with it, so that you do not fall behind or miss any assignments during the semester.

World News Resources

These are good examples of some of the new sources available on the Internet that international relations scholars can follow. You may find these to be helpful in writing the analytical papers that are required for this course. Note that the point here isn't to endorse news from a particular national or political viewpoint, but to see how major news sources around the world are covering a topic; you will often find that the BBC or Xinhua (for example) are covering stories that aren't in any of the major American papers, and each of these news sources will often provide details that the others missed.

In most cases, these links are to the main news page on each site. Many of these sites offer regional or topical news pages, with many more news stories than they could fit on their main page, so you may want to explore these pages as well as the main headlines page. Many of these sites also offer RSS/Atom feeds, which makes it easy to follow news headlines automatically in your favorite feed reader/aggregator.

World News Sites

These sources offer good coverage of events around the world (please note that I have tried to limit this to sources that provide original content, rather than sources that primarily repackage stories from the major news agencies):

Newspapers and Similar Sources:

News Agencies:

Regional News Sites

These sources may include some coverage of events across the world, but they are best at covering certain regions, offering news or details that the more global sites listed above may miss:

Other News-Related Links on My Web Site
Last updated: 29 August 2022
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