Institute for Politics and Strategy Courses

Note on Course Numbers

Each Carnegie Mellon course number begins with a two-digit prefix which designates the department offering the course (76-xxx courses are offered by the Department of English, etc.). Although each department maintains its own course numbering practices, typically the first digit after the prefix indicates the class level: xx-1xx courses are freshmen-level, xx-2xx courses are sophomore level, etc. xx-6xx courses may be either undergraduate senior-level or graduate-level, depending on the department. xx-7xx courses and higher are graduate-level. Please consult the Schedule of Classes each semester for course offerings and for any necessary pre-requisites or co-requisites.

84-104 Decision Processes in American Political Institutions
Fall: 9 units
This is an interdisciplinary introduction to the study of politics and government in the United States. It familiarizes the student with the basic structures and processes of American government, but moves beyond the purely descriptive into the realm of the analytical. The main theoretical tools are spatial models of political decision-making, and models of collective action problems. The position taken in this course is that understanding American philosophical ideas about authority, power, and freedom is as central to demystifying the U.S. form of democracy as is understanding how decision-making institutions function. Thus, on one side, this course looks at how American political thought is infused into political institutions and society. On the other side, it investigates institutional arrangements using rationalistic theories. In addition, scientific writings at the intersection of psychology and economics are used to probe the possibility of gaining explanatory leverage on U.S. politics from the perspective of behavioral decision-making theories.
84-198 Research Training: Institute for Politics and Strategy
Fall and Spring
This course is part of a set of 100-level courses offered by Dietrich College departments as independent studies for second-semester freshmen, and first- or second-semester sophomores, in the College. In general, these courses are designed to give students some real research experience through work on a faculty project or lab in ways that might stimulate and nurture subsequent interest in research participation. Faculty and students devise a personal and regularized meeting and task schedule. Each Research Training course is worth 9 units, which generally means a minimum for students of about 9 work-hours per week. These courses are offered only as electives; i.e., they cannot be applied toward a college or major requirement, although the units do count toward graduation as elective units. Additional details (including a roster and descriptions of Research Training Courses available in any given semester) are available in the Academic Advisory Center. Prerequisites/ restrictions: for Dietrich College students only; only for second-semester freshmen, or first- or second-semester sophomores; minimum cumulative QPA of 3.0 (at the time of registration) required for approved entry; additional prerequisites (e.g., language proficiency) may arise out of the particular demands of the research project in question.
84-265 Political Science Research Methods
Spring: 9 units
This course provides an overview of research methods in political science. Students will learn to think like social scientists and develop skills required by the discipline. The course emphasizes the nature of causality and how causal claims can be made in the social sciences. The goal for the class is for students think critically about the strengths and weaknesses of various methodological approaches and identify the methodological tools that are most appropriate for answering different research questions. Furthermore, students will increase their ability to consume political science research from a variety of subfields while also learning to design and present their own research.
Prerequisites: 36-247 or 36-207 or 36-201
84-275 Comparative Politics
Spring: 9 units
This course is an introduction to the subfield of Political Science called Comparative Politics. Scholars in this subfield - comparativists - use comparative methods to study the political systems of countries around the world, trying to understand how they differ and why. In this course, we aim to learn about how political systems differ, discuss alternative explanations of why they differ and explore the different observed outcomes of political variations. To do so, in the first part of the course we will examine the core concepts and main theories of the subfield. In the second part, we will examine some of the main themes studied in Comparative Politics, such as the differences between democracy and non-democracies, presidentialism versus parliamentarism, developed countries versus developing countries, types of electoral rules, party systems, social cleavages and political cultures. The discussion will focus mainly on the Americas and Europe, but not exclusively. Students will be required to apply the comparative methods discussed in the course to explore the history, political systems, and current events of different countries.
84-309 Political Behavior
Intermittent: 9 units
The goal of this course is to understand how citizens engage with and influence the political system. This course is devoted to the study of how people behave when interacting with other citizens, politicians, and political institutions. We will primarily focus on the behavior of non-elite political actors using examples from the United States, other developed democracies, as well as developing countries. We will address questions such as what influences people to vote or abstain in an election, how people decide between candidates, how trust and cooperation develop within and across ethnic groups, and how citizens respond to political violence and terrorism. The course will integrate game theoretical perspectives with insights from psychology to help students gain a deeper understanding of the interplay between citizens' political goals and the political system in which they operate.
84-310 International Political Economy and Organizations
Intermittent: 9 units
This course is an introduction to basic tools of modern political economy such as game theory and hypothesis testing and their applications to study international politics. This course will familiarize students with these theoretical approaches and will demonstrate how we can use them to address contemporary policy questions. We will analyze, for example, how various factors such as the interaction between the state and market, interest groups, and domestic institutions affect trade policies. We will also analyze the roles of international organizations such as the World Trade Organization and the International Court of Justice in the state of "anarchy."
84-311 International Development: Theory and Praxis
Fall: 6 units
What is the difference between a developed country and one that is developing? How did some countries achieve a state of development, while others remain mired in underdevelopment? What is the best solution for assisting people living in developing countries? This course will explore these key questions and many more related to theoretical foundations and daily applications of international development. Because development theory and praxis are interdisciplinary in nature, this course will take a similar approach and draws upon readings from political science, economics, history, and sociology. We will also examine the various intersections of development, gender, indigeneity, race, class, and citizenship, as they are manifest in contemporary development approaches.
84-312 Gender and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa
Spring: 6 units
The purpose of this course is to continue a discussion on the debates, structures, and agents that inform international development in Africa but through the varied perspectives and experiences of African women. Their perspectives offer critical interventions into development discourses and practices traditionally viewed through masculine and Western lenses. In studying development from the African woman's perspective, one is better able to engage both the successes and failures of this formal process we call "development" in Africa. By examining African women and their relationship to this process, we will also see the alternative frames of feminisms and knowledges that emerge from these realities. The core questions driving this course are: (i) what are the various development ideologies and processes that have shaped contemporary Africa? (ii) How have African women adopted, rejected, and/or creolized these ideologies and processes for the purposes of changing their cultural, political, and economic conditions? The course readings come predominantly from African women, although there are texts from non-African women and men that generally serve to highlight the larger discourses taking place around a particular topic.
84-315 Contemporary Debates in Human Rights
Spring: 9 units
What are human rights? Are human rights universal or provincial? This class will survey the origins, debates, and application of human rights around the world. As a class, we will explore the history of the term and the evolution of human rights as a set of formal and informal institutions derived from the global aspirations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the quotidian interactions between the powerful and ostensibly powerless. By the end of this course, you should come away with both a renewed and wavering belief in the idea of human rights.
84-319 U.S. Foreign Policy and Interventions in World Affairs
Spring: 9 units
This course will discuss the various ways in which the United States, like other countries around the world, tries to influence developments within other states by intervening in their domestic affairs. Interventions of various kinds, utilizing numerous tools, are frequently undertaken by the United States with major effects on the intervened country and subsequent U.S. foreign policy. The goal of this course is to provide a better understanding of such interventions in general and a more complete picture of this frequently neglected aspect of American foreign policy in particular. Accordingly this course will focus on explaining, among other things, why interventions of various types are done, their effectiveness in achieving their goals and their effects on the target and (occasionally) on the U.S.. It will also discuss in depth various historical cases of American interventions ranging from the early 20th century to the present, widening the depth and breadth of student knowledge on American foreign policy. The course will cover both military and non-military forms of interventions including (for example): Military interventions in civil wars, FIRCs/regime change operations (both the overt and covert types), humanitarian interventions, partisan electoral interventions, economic sanctions, external help in state-building, and drone warfare.
84-320 Domestic Politics and International Affairs
Intermittent: 9 units
This course will provide students with a broad overview of the literature which investigates the effects of political institutions, or, more specifically, the inclusiveness of political institutions, on both domestic and foreign policies. Domestic political institutions influence policies through shaping policymakers' incentives, and, in turn, outcomes of domestic and international affairs influence the political survival of policymakers and even of political institutions. With this in mind, our main objective is to develop students' ability to critically and logically analyze global patterns of governance, conflict, and cooperation. To this end, students will also be introduced to fundamentals of research design and game theory, an analytical tool to analyze strategic interactions. The substantive questions we will ask include, but not limited to, the following: how does domestic politics constrain or encourage state leaders to go to war, sign trade pacts, and develop economy?; how can citizens incentivize policymakers to achieve desirable policy goals?; how do international affairs affect our lives in the long run?; and do certain foreign policies affect citizens of democracies and non-democracies differently, and if so, why?
84-321 Autocrats and Democrats
Intermittent: 9 units
The international system is populated by countries with many different types of national governments. A common simplification of the many diverse political systems in the world is to divide them into democratic states and non-democratic states or "autocracies." This simplification misses many key differences among autocracies and causes us to overlook key similarities between autocracies and democracies. This course will cover three major areas. First, we will evaluate the strategic incentives faced by all leaders and discuss how these incentives differ by regime type. Second, we will discuss how leader responses to these incentives shape policy outcomes such as economic growth. Third, we will examine the factors that promote transitions from one regime type to another. Throughout the course, students will be asked to re-consider much of what they've thought about both democratic and non-democratic leaders. Class assignments will ask students to critically examine existing theories of political organization and apply their knowledge to real world cases, both historical and contemporary.
84-322 Nonviolent Conflict and Revolution
Spring: 9 units
Conflict and revolution are usually associated with armed struggle and violence. But over the course of the last century, nonviolent conflict has become an increasingly prominent source of institutional change and political revolution around the world, from Gandhi's salt march to Filipino "people power" to the post-Soviet "color revolutions" to the Arab Spring. What are the causes, strategies, tactics, dynamics, and consequences of nonviolent conflict, and how do these differ from violent or armed conflict? When and how do unarmed "people power" campaigns topple repressive authoritarian regimes? This course addresses these questions and in the process engages contending theories of power, revolution, and insurgency. The first half of the course introduces students to key concepts, theories, and historical patterns of nonviolent conflict. In the second half of the course, the class analyzes case studies of landmark nonviolent campaigns, both successful and failed. By the end, students will be expected to write an original 10 page analysis of a particular historical nonviolent conflict, or an intelligence estimate that assesses the prospects for the onset or outcome of nonviolent conflict in a contemporary country.
84-323 War and Peace
Intermittent: 9 units
This course explores the conditions that lead to the initiation, escalation, spread, and termination of international conflict as well as the circumstances that promote, preserve, or restore peace. We will explore topics such as balance of power, uncertainty, commitment problems, alliances, arms races, appeasement, and the democratic peace. In addition, we will discuss theories and cases of international mediation and peacekeeping, and evaluate their effectiveness. We will also address the role of the US in promoting international peace. The course emphasizes the application of simple game theoretic models of rational action as tools for assessing relations between nations, coupled with statistical and historical analysis of classes of events. No mathematics beyond high school math is needed for this course.
84-324 Democracies and War
Intermittent: 9 units
Updated description: This course will explore the role of domestic politics in international conflict and examine the effect of regime type on warfare. In particular, the course will focus on the Democratic Peace and why democracies tend to win the wars they enter. We will discuss a variety of explanations for the Democratic Peace, that is, the tendency of democratic states to avoid war with each other. We will also discuss whether democratic states select wars more carefully, the incentives of democratic leaders when engaging in war, and whether domestic democratic structures provide states with war-fighting advantages with respect to military organization and soldier initiative. Not open to students who have taken the Freshman Seminar: Democracies and War 84-124.
84-326 Theories of International Relations
Fall: 9 units
This course focuses on teaching the main approaches for the study of international relations. Although you will learn about some current international issues and about the evolution of international relations, and see how various theories would explain important past international events, the focus of this course is analytic rather than substantive. In other words, it will focus on general arguments and their underlying logic rather than on specific events and details or, for that matter, definitive answers as to 'which side is right'. As such, this course will help you to better understand the world we live in and provide you with tools for analyzing various international events. It will also acquaint you with many of the frameworks frequently used by statesmen, either implicitly or explicitly, in order to understand the world and to make policy on various issue areas. The course will begin by analyzing approaches from the three main levels of analysis: the individual, domestic (liberal and non-liberal theories) and systemic (neorealism, etc.). It will move on to discuss approaches which focus on, for example, the effects of strategic interactions between states, of international institutions and of norms and of the overall 'social environment' that states live in. The course will then conclude by discussing the future of international relations.
84-330 The Shading of Democracy: The Influence of Race on American Politics
Intermittent: 12 units
This course will explore intersections of race, political influence and the shaping of America's democracy. Discourse will focus on racial and ethnicity-related policies, practices and processes designed to influence democratic outcomes. Students will examine complex, and often pivotal occurrences that have transformed the political landscape through the works of Richard Rorty, Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America; Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness; and, Steve Phillips, Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority. THIS COURSE IS RESTRICTED TO STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN THE CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON SEMESTER PROGRAM (CMU/WSP) ONLY.
84-332 Effects of US Policy on Businesses: Perspectives of Asian Americans
Intermittent: 6 units
This course explores the effects of policy, advocacy, and government on the U.S. business sector, specifically from the perspective of Americans of Asian heritage and various kinds of business entities (corporations, start-ups, small business, etc.). Each student or small group of students will be assigned a particular kind of business entity and a designated Asian heritage, and the class would work through select policies, exploring how they affect the different enterprises and Asian Americans. THIS COURSE IS RESTRICTED TO STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN THE CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON SEMESTER PROGRAM (CMU/WSP) ONLY.
84-333 Power and Levers for Change in Washington, DC
Intermittent: 12 units
Political and policy change often appears to sweep in at the direction of high-profile, centralized decision makers. The path to change is in truth a longer tale, driven by a diversity of actors and influencers. This course aims to more fully map out the diversity of levers that drive change in federal policymaking and implementation, examining key influences such as Congress, money, media, social movements, rhetoric and data. The course aims to give students a fuller picture of how their own particular strengths and interests are valuable to creating change, through seminar dialogue, guest speakers, and reflections on students' internship organizational structures. THIS COURSE IS RESTRICTED TO STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN THE CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON SEMESTER PROGRAM (CMU/WSP) ONLY.
84-334 Presidential Power in a Constitutional System
Intermittent: 6 units
The United States Constitution vests the executive power in a president who is sworn to faithfully execute the laws and to defend the Constitution. What this means was disputed in the Pacificus-Helvidius debate in 1793, and continues to be debated in our present circumstances. This course will examine how the constitutional framework and political forces shape presidential behavior, and how they are affected by it. Special attention will be given to executive orders, signing statements, appointments and removals, and other means presidents use to accomplish their goals in a system of separated powers and a large administrative bureaucracy. Class visitors will include individuals who have written orders, shepherded nominations through Congress, argued for or against presidential actions in federal courts, worked on presidential transition teams, covered the presidency for the press, and more. THIS COURSE IS RESTRICTED TO STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN THE CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON SEMESTER PROGRAM (CMU/WSP) ONLY.
84-336 Implementing Public Policy: From Good Idea To Reality
Spring: 12 units
Good public policy doesn't just "happen." Rather, successful policy is the result of thorough research, careful drafting, and successful navigation within the government or non-government organization whose leadership may ultimately promulgate it. The course begins with a brief review of government and organizational behavior in a bureaucracy, and the identification of a federal agency's current policy system as a framework to which we will turn throughout the term. Study then turns to an overview of legal research skills. Though usually the province of law students and attorneys, such skills will enable students to know when policy may be crafted "from scratch" — or where, when, and how policy must conform to larger governing legal or regulatory structures. Students will then consider a particular sub-specie of public policy, administrative law, which addresses the special circumstance of regulatory agencies and the statutory regimes that create and govern them. The course culminates with students developing and "staffing" a notional policy, modeled on the federal agency policy system studied throughout the term. This course may benefit a range of audiences: students considering government and related policy careers; future business leaders who must set standards for business practices, employee behavior, or operations within the confines of governmental regulations; prospective paralegals and attorneys; or anyone interested in exploring "what the rules are" and why. THIS COURSE IS RESTRICTED TO STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN THE CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON SEMESTER PROGRAM (CMU/WSP) ONLY.
84-337 Biomedical Science Research, Policy, and Governance
Intermittent: 6 units
This course is designed for those with science backgrounds or an interest in science to explore how the biomedical sciences intersect with policy and governance on a national and international scale. Biomedical research, in addition to contributing fundamental scientific knowledge, can lead to improvements in health, reduced illness, and have the secondary impact of job creation and other economic benefits. The course will explore how the US funds biomedical science, how Congress and government agencies implement science policies, and the policy implications of new scientific fields using biomedical research topics such as emerging infectious disease, genomics, stem cell research, etc. By the end of the course, the students will be able to understand the process of policy implementation in the US government and consider the effects of policy on biomedical science. THIS COURSE IS RESTRICTED TO STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN THE CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON SEMESTER PROGRAM (CMU/WSP) ONLY.
84-343 Language and Power: How to Understand and Use Political Speech
Intermittent: 6 units
Political writing is a subspecies of language with several manifestations. There is an art to the op-ed and to the editorial, to the polemical essay and to the review. Within government, there are skills particular to writing speeches and ghosting essays, preparing Congressional testimony and Federal commission reports, and to drafting policy memoranda. There are even special forms and qualities of expression for hosting award and memorial ceremonies, and for writing thank-you notes, toasts, and letters of condolence. This course is designed to teach an appreciation for the range and nature of political writing and speech in both its public and governmental forms. It also introduces students to the fundamental skills required to do effective political writing. THIS COURSE IS RESTRICTED TO STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN THE CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON SEMESTER PROGRAM (CMU/WSP) ONLY.
84-346 Legal Issues in Public Administration
Intermittent: 6 units
Part I of the course will focus on legal issues in public administration and cover the relationship between the government and its employees, including the role of labor unions and collective bargaining in the federal sector. Part II will cover official immunity for government officials, "equal protection of the law" and substantive due process. Part III will cover separation of powers, federalism and judicial review of agency action. Reading assignments will include short excerpts from relevant books/periodicals. Students will also be asked to read court opinions. Although these opinions may be filled with legal jargon, at their essence, most concern the tension between individual rights and government efficiency and control. THIS COURSE IS RESTRICTED TO STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN THE CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON SEMESTER PROGRAM (CMU/WSP) ONLY.
84-348 Advocacy, Policy and Practice
Intermittent: 6 units
This course examines the role that advocacy and advocacy organizations play at all stages of the policymaking and implementation process, from grassroots to professional advocacy organizations, public facing communications initiatives to internal policy-focused actions. Part of the course will focus on the history of advocacy in policy making, and case studies will be used to explore the players, outcomes, and influences of advocates when designing and implementing policy. THIS COURSE IS RESTRICTED TO STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN THE CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON SEMESTER PROGRAM (CMU/WSP) ONLY.
84-360 CMU/WSP: Internship Seminar
Fall and Spring: 12 units
The internship is the experiential "core" of the Washington Semester Program. Students intern three days per week, for approximately 24-25 hours, in offices from Capitol Hill to the White House and including opportunities in cabinet agencies, nonprofit institutions, museums, advocacy groups, policy think tanks, cultural institutions, and news organizations. Through the internship, students gain professional experience and make long-lasting professional and personal contacts. In addition, students meet once a week with the CMU internship faculty for a 2-hour seminar to report and reflect on their internship experiences, and address pressing current issues from the perspective of their internship organization. In addition, the weekly seminar typically includes 1-2 CMU alumni from the Washington, DC, area. Their personal and professional experiences become part of the seminar conversation, and they make themselves available to students as ongoing sources of information and advice. THIS COURSE IS RESTRICTED TO STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN THE CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON SEMESTER PROGRAM (CMU/WSP) ONLY.
84-362 Diplomacy and Statecraft
Fall: 9 units
Diplomacy and statecraft are the driving forces behind foreign policy and international politics. In the first half of the course, the class surveys the evolution of great power politics from the Peace of Westphalia to the Global War on Terror and examines the history and practice of different types of statecraft, including military statecraft (e.g. deterrence and coercive diplomacy), diplomacy (e.g. crisis management and democracy promotion), and economic statecraft (e.g. trade, foreign aid, financial bailouts, and exchange rate policy). In the second half of the course, the class surveys contemporary diplomatic challenges, including challenges posed by human trafficking, global climate change, nuclear proliferation, and major powers such as Russia and China. Both in the classroom and in writing, students are encouraged to think, act, and write like diplomats and to appreciate diplomacy as a vocation. Throughout the course, students build skills in foreign policy memo writing, participate in various diplomatic role-playing simulations, and connect diplomatic trend lines with today's international headlines.
84-363 Comparative Legal Systems
Spring: 9 units
This course carries out a comparative study of the nature of courts and law, their position in political systems and the role of judges as political actors, and the potential of legal political institutions to impact society. The course is very theoretical and is organized around key themes and concepts, rather than historical detail on countries. We will examine the political and regime logic behind the origin of judicial power, competing theories about judicial decision making, the meaning and significance of judicial independence, and the potential effectiveness of courts as tools for social and political change.
84-366 Presidential Politics: So, You Want to Be President of the United States
Intermittent: 9 units
The person elected president of the United States immediately assumes many roles. These include, but are not limited to, the following: head of government, head of state, and chief operating officer of the federal bureaucracy. The newly elected president also must find a way to work toward major policy goals with a generally contentious Congress, regardless of whether there is divided government. Legislative-executive relations have an impact on the judiciary. Senate confirmation of the president's Supreme Court nominees is one vivid example. As the only nationally elected official in the US, the president also has a bully pulpit- the unique opportunity among all government officials to engage with the American public. Using analytical perspectives and theories from the discipline of political science, this course takes a close look at the US presidency. It investigates what it takes to get elected and what the president does that is distinct among all government officials, domestic and international. It also examines the relationship between the president and US society. At the end of the semester, students will have a deep understanding of the US presidency and will be ready for further study of the office and US government. Those who seek to be president will have been forewarned.
84-369 Decision Science for International Relations
Fall: 9 units
Decision Science looks at choices from three interrelated perspectives: analysis, characterizing decision makers' options, in terms of expected effects on outcomes that they value; description, characterizing decision makers' beliefs and preferences; and interventions, helping decision makers to choose among the options available to them or create better ones. The first half of the course will introduce foundational research in Decision Science. The second half will apply that research to issues in international relations and politics.
Prerequisite: 36-201
84-380 Grand Strategy in the United States
Intermittent: 9 units
This course introduces students to the concept of grand strategy in the United States, broadly defined as the combination of diplomatic, economic, military, and political factors used by American presidents and their administrations to advance U.S. interests throughout the world. In the context of highly interdependent domestic and international politics, leaders must develop strategies that address a diverse range of internal, state, and non-state challenges while also dealing with the myriad challenges resulting from globalization, or the intersection of international politics, culture, markets, and technology. This course will review American diplomatic history over the ages, with a focus on both Cold War and post- Cold War American presidencies and their respective approaches to defending American national security whilst also playing a role as one of the world's leading powers.
84-386 The Privatization of Force
Fall: 9 units
This course considers different forms of privatized force and security over time and across various strategic contexts, from historical mercenarism up to modern-day private military and security contractors. While going through the historical and modern material chronologically, the course considers the various issues that arise with each form of privatized force, including questions that arise regarding the state's monopoly on violence, legal and humanitarian issues, and civil-military relations. These range from theoretical concerns regarding modern definitions of the state, to practical operational-level concerns pertaining to field coordination issues between the military and private contractors in modern conflicts.
84-387 Technology and Policy of Cyber War
Spring: 6 units
This course examines underlying and emerging technologies and policies associated with cyber war and cyber threats. The technological concepts reviewed in this course include but are not limited to the internet, networks and sensors, and trends associated with "hyperconnectivity" (e.g., The Internet of Things). The course will review history, international policy, military doctrine, and lessons learned from the use of cyber operations and cyberspace in conflicts. The principle objective of this course is to introduce students to the technological and policy variables that affect the ability to manage cyber conflicts.
84-388 Concepts of War and Cyber War
Fall: 6 units
This course examines traditional theories, concepts, and practices in international relations and warfare- conventional, unconventional, and modern- and relates them to the emerging dynamics of cyber war. The principle concepts examined in this course reflect, have shaped, and continue to shape state and non-state actor behaviors and their calculations of how to prepare for and prosecute warfare. These include, among others, conventional and nuclear deterrence, offense-defense dynamics, first strike capabilities, and irregular warfare. The course will focus on theory but will leverage history, military doctrine, and cases to highlight the challenges of integrating cyber war into defense planning and practice. Students will be challenged to consider how the 2009 introduction of cyberspace as a warfighting domain- in addition to land, maritime, air, and space- affects the ways that scholars and practitioners- operating with force structures and strategic, operational, and tactical concepts that are decades, if not centuries old- conceive of and practice warfare in the 21st Century. The principle objective of this course is to introduce students to cyber war within the context of traditional, and emerging, concepts of armed and unarmed warfare. This course will focus on two core areas: 1) a discussion of traditional concepts of warfare in the physical domains; and, 2) a discussion of cyber war and its intersection with these traditional concepts.
84-389 Terrorism and Insurgency
Spring: 9 units
There are many forms of political violence but not all are created equal. Some, like terrorism, are a tactic while others, like insurgency, are a strategy. How important is it to define terrorism and insurgency? What are the differences and similarities between them? This course will go into depth to analyze both terrorism and insurgency and their various manifestations. The course will provide a historical overview of how terrorism and insurgency have evolved over time, while also focusing on groups, methods, ideologies and organizational structures. Is the terrorism conducted by Salafist groups like Al-Qaida and the Islamic State significantly different than that perpetrated by ethno-nationalist groups like the Provisional Irish Republican Army and Tamil Tigers? What are the best methods to counter-terrorism and how successful have states been- both historically and more recently- at combating the threat posed by terrorism and insurgency?
84-393 Legislative Decision Making: US Congress
Spring: 9 units
This course analyzes decision-making by the United States Congress. The course examines legislative behavior by focusing on the way Congress is organized (institutional and constitutional structure) and the ways legislators, voters, and various other parties interact (strategic constraints). Students will both learn the legislative process and explore the influence of norms, rules, expectations, incentives and, perhaps most important of all, the power of the electorate in influencing legislative outcomes and policy. Elections, voting decisions, committee assignments, political party power, and intra-branch relations across the Federal government are some of the topics into which we will delve. This course does not require any prior knowledge of the U.S. Congress, and there are no prerequisites for the course.
84-402 Judicial Politics and Behavior
Intermittent: 9 units
This course is a survey of research and insight into one of the most unique American government institutions: the judiciary. Rather than exclusively reading case law (as one would do in a Constitutional Law class), this course examines court structure, rules of law and, most importantly, judges as actors within an institutional setting. We will focus on how rules, norms, and expectations guide the decisions, actions, and range of options available to judges. Here we will study the nature of judicial decision-making and its antecedents, the organization of the judicial branch and its implications for behavior, and the strategic interactions both within courts and between the courts and the more "political" branches of government. The course will look at state and federal courts within the United States, supplemented with examples from international jurisdictions. Material from law, history, economics, political science, sociology, and psychology will be introduced throughout the semester. Although some of the literature uses empirical and/or game theoretical models, students are not expected to have mastered these tools prior to taking the course.
84-405 Future of Warfare: Cyber, Violent Non-State Actors & Conflict in the Gray Zone
Fall: 9 units
Warfare is constantly evolving. Long gone are the days of set-piece battles involving conventional military forces. In the contemporary conflict environment, hybrid actors and proxy groups wage war in an asymmetric and irregular manner, relying on ambiguity, strategic surprise and deception to accomplish their objectives. This course will examine new trends in warfare, from the onset of cyber war to the development of violent non-state actors with conventional military capabilities. Moreover, this course will explore the concept of the "gray zone," an area of neither declared nor undeclared hostilities where U.S. adversaries like Russia, China, Iran and others are gradually allocating resources. Case studies examined in this course will include Russian hybrid warfare in Crimea and Ukraine, Chinese cyberwarfare and information operations, Iranian sponsorship of proxy militias in Syria and Lebanon and a range of other emerging trends in areas such as technology, demographics, urbanization and social media, all of which are combining to radically alter the way wars are fought today.
84-414 International and Subnational Security
Intermittent: 9 units
Why do states fight wars? Why do some wars last for years while others end in days? How is it possible that powerful states may lose wars to under-resourced non-state actors? Why are some peace settlements stable, while other ceasefires crumble precipitously? Why do some states get challenged by subnational groups? By surveying the most recent quantitative research in political science, this course explores various security challenges that contemporary states face at the international level and in the intrastate political environment. We will focus in depth on the bargaining explanations for war, democratic/regime similarity/capitalist peace, deterrence, interdependence through trade, cooperation through international organizations, and civil wars. The goal of this course is to demonstrate how theoretical and empirical approaches in social sciences can be used to answer questions about war and peace. Students will acquire training in graphical literacy as well.
84-450 Policy Forum
Fall and Spring: 6 units
The Policy Forum course takes a critical look at decision making in domestic politics and US foreign policy. It does so through weekly roundtable discussions with a diverse set of thought leaders. Based on intellectually significant essays that students are expected to read in advance of each class, these discussions give students an opportunity to ask probing questions about the three branches of the US government, media, embassies, advocacy groups, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations. This course seeks to help students understand the responsibilities and activities that leaders and decision makers carry out on behalf of their organizations. Students are instructed in how to confidently and respectfully ask critical questions of those shaping policy. The term "roundtabling" is used to describe submitting an issue for critical discussion among relevant stakeholders. Knowing how to direct a roundtable is a significant element in the professional development of anyone interested in taking part in the policy arena, and this course helps students hone this important skill. In requiring students to read important essays related to each class session and then step back from discussions with leaders to write analytical essays, this course teaches students how to develop strong arguments based on solid logic and credible evidence, an essential component in making democracy work.
84-498 Undergraduate Research
Fall and Spring
Students conduct research under the supervision of an Institute for Politics and Strategy faculty member. Students who wish to engage in research should seek out a faculty member whose interests are appropriate to the research. Prerequisite: Students must also complete an "Independent Study/Research for Credit" form, available from the Academic Program Manager. Permission of a faculty sponsor.
84-499 Independent Study
Fall and Spring
Students conduct independent academic study under the supervision of an Institute for Politics and Strategy faculty member. Students who wish to engage in an independent study should seek out a faculty member whose interests are appropriate to the topic. Students must also complete an "Independent Study/Research for Credit" form, available from the Academic Program Manager. Prerequisite: Permission of a faculty sponsor.
84-505 Undergraduate Internship
Fall and Spring
An internship is an approved and monitored work experience than can be related to an academic field of study through active reflection and specific learning goals. Students will be in regular contact with a faculty member in the Institute for Politics and Strategy, who will assign and evaluate academic work. Internships are available for 3, 6, or 9 units, depending on the type and amount of academic work produced. Students are responsible for finding their own internships and faculty sponsors, although assistance is available through the Academic Program Manager.