Peace & Conflict Honors Seminar II: War and Peace in the 21st Century

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Course Description:

The seminar will focus on the following key themes: Is international security fundamentally changing in the 21st century? Is war in decline or just changing its character? We will start with the argument that following the end of the Cold War the world has been transformed and has become much more peaceful. In this context, we'll address the debate on the changing concept of security. The key advocates of this change are what we might call "Liberal Optimists." In contrast, realists, especially Offensive Realists, highlight the basic continuity under international anarchy, though many of the realists, especially defensive ones, recognize the revolutionary effects which nuclear weapons have on international security. Others focus on the effects of the transition to unipolarity following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of the US as the sole superpower. Another school argues, however, that even though warfare continues to dominate international security, war changes its character toward civil war, violent non-state actors, asymmetric warfare, ethnic conflict, violence in failed states, terrorism or "clash of civilizations." This approach can be called "The New Conflict Pessimists." We'll examine the argument that variations in the level of state capacity and nationalism can capture some of the major variations in war and peace in different parts of the world by looking at different regions such as Europe and South America in contrast to the Middle East, Africa and South Asia on the one hand and East Asia and the post-Soviet on the other hand. 

We'll conclude with a discussion on the prospects for war and peace in the 21st century. 

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