Political Science 6220 3.0 – Fall 2009
Contemporary Security Studies: Conflict, Intervention, and Peacebuilding
335 Calumet College
Prof. Elizabeth Dauphinee
Office Location: S634 Ross Building
Office Hours: Tuesdays, 10:30-11:30 or by appointment
Tel: 416 736 2100 x 22552
Widely considered to be among the most intractable and bitter of political encounters, intra-state and identity-based conflicts increasingly confront the contemporary world with the dilemmas of its own political imagination. This course proceeds from the basis that state formation and international relations, as both discipline and political practice, present us with a framework for political community that is inherently rooted in identity-based conflict – that is, in the ideal Westphalian relationship of contiguity between sovereign power, population, and territory. It is thus that intercommunal, regional, and resource-based conflict might be seen not as a ‘primitive’ aberration of international political life, but rather as one of its historical cornerstones. This, in turn, shapes and conditions the possibility for response, intervention, and peacebuilding projects. The goal of this course is to explore the ways in which conflict permeates and reflects the international order in both contemporary and historical contexts. This course will explore contemporary conflict and international response not as a phenomenon separate from ‘civilized’ international political life, but rather as an integral problem of state-building and sovereignty. Through students’ own research projects, the course will seek to broaden our understanding of the political conditions associated with such conflict, and to contribute toward meaningful debate in the field. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to consider the relationship between theory-building and policy-making in a systematic, substantive way.
The course is divided into two parts. The first half is designed to familiarize students with a range of contemporary concerns related to security, conflict, intervention, and peacebuilding. It will provide students with frameworks through which to consider pursuit of individual research projects. The second half of the course is student-led, and will center on students’ own research projects in the form of ongoing workshops around essay drafts. The goal is to provide sustained intellectual support for each student’s project toward the creation of a journal-length article of publishable quality. For those students considering Ph.D. level study (or who are already enrolled in the doctoral program), the course should be seen as an opportunity to workshop individual projects toward the goal of publication in relevant academic outlets. For students whose MA is a terminal degree, the project may be geared toward whatever audience is appropriate to the student’s interest: academics, policy communities, NGOs, and so on. No matter what your level of study or individual goals, you will be expected to express some consideration for both theory and practice or policy.
The course will be conducted via weekly seminar. It relies heavily on student-led participation, including the presentation and workshopping of active and ongoing student research in the second half of the term. In order for this to be successful, each student in the seminar must be willing to make a commitment toward pursuing these ends in a timely fashion. Therefore, your primary responsibility is to read the assigned material in a thorough and analytical manner, and to engage in the additional individual research that will be brought to the seminar as an integral part of the learning and research experience. This is a graduate level course, which means that students are expected to demonstrate a high level of independent research capacity toward the development of their own research projects.
Participation: 15% - ongoing
Active participation is crucial toward the success of the seminar. You should come to class having read the assigned selections, and you should be prepared to actively participate in discussion. Students are expected to arrive at the seminar with two or three critical questions that arise from the readings – these questions will be shared with the group and will comprise the springboard for discussion.
Article Analysis: 20% - due on October 7th in class
The article analysis is a sustained reflection on the detractions, merits, and implications of one or more articles that the student has chosen from a week’s readings up to October 21, inclusive. The assignment should be no more than three, double-spaced pages long, and should critically interrogate the assumptions and commitments of the article(s) chosen. Whether you agree or disagree with the article(s) chosen for the analysis, you should critically explore the claims being put forward, the assumptions (explicit or implicit) that underwrite these claims, and the implications for theory and/or practice that emerge from the article(s). The purpose of the assignment is to demonstrate students’ ability to critically analyze an author’s argument.
Presentation: 15% - ongoing
Presentations of active research are ongoing throughout the second half of the semester.
Essay proposal with Annotated Bibliography: 10% - Due on October 28th in class
The essay proposal is a short (1 or 2 page) description of what the essay will seek to accomplish/argue, and should include a clear theoretical perspective. There should be a preliminary bibliography attached to the proposal which includes a few sentences detailing the contents of the individual sources and how they will fit into the essay. It is understood that research is an open-ended undertaking, and so students should not worry too much about whether the proposal will fully reflect the finished essay in the end. The purpose of the proposal is to explore the viability and coherence of the intended argument(s).
Research Essay: 40% - Due on December 21st.
This is the classic, argumentative research essay, 20-25 pages in length. The bibliography need not be annotated at this final stage.
Please note that grades of incomplete are no longer the decision of the course director. As of September 2009, only the Graduate Program Director is empowered to provide incompletes, and these will only be granted in cases where there is substantive documentation of circumstances beyond a student’s control.