This Area of Concentration helps you explore the interdependent nature of global economic affairs and actors, from the underworld of transnational organized crime to the high-stakes questions of the United States’ and China’s changing roles in the global economy.

Area of Concentration Courses

A minimum of four courses are required to earn this Area of Concentration within the MA in Global Security Studies degree.

This course provides an in-depth examination of how the effects of climate change could impact national security, international relations, and global stability. Students will begin by examining and discussing the current body of academic literature. As the semester progresses, students will learn and practice how to use cross-disciplinary resources and tools to envision potential relationships between climate change effects and security outcomes.

Transnational organized crime often is not well understood because crime is most often conceptualized as a domestic legal concern. However, transnational organized crime is more than that. It is crime ordered into complex clandestine networks that operates transnationally with little regard for the borders of states. The gravity of the problem lies not only in the increasing complexity of these organizations, but more importantly, with the serious challenge they pose in their ability to penetrate and operate with relative impunity in several states simultaneously. These illegal enterprises not only threaten aspects of state sovereignty and security that traditionally have been taken for granted, but they prove the permeability of national borders and the vulnerability of state institutions. This course will examine a variety of transnational organized criminal groups, their modus operandi, and their illicit activities. It also will focus on some domestic organized crime groups both to provide a depth of understanding of the operations of organized criminal activity in different countries, as well as to show how international groups can make inroads into domestic markets if they cooperate with local groups.

Corruption is ubiquitous. It is a universal phenomenon that has always been around and that can be found almost anywhere. Recent years have seen much focus on the relationship between it and democratic governance. Indeed corruption and politics more generally, are inextricably and universally entwined. In this seminar we will take an in-depth look at the relationship between the two. We will ask: What is Corruption? Is it always the same thing everywhere, or does it vary depending on context or place? Do pork barrel politics and political clientelism count as corruption? What are the implications of corruption? Is it necessarily always a bad thing or can it be beneficial? Is the corruption experienced in developed countries qualitatively different from that in developing ones such that democracy suffers more in developing countries? We will seek to answer these and other questions by taking a critical look at the politics of corruption. We will look at the origins, extent, character and significance of corruption from both a developed and developing country perspective. We will cover various theories relating to corruption as well as look at a number of empirical cases.

Russia plays a key role in most international issues and openly campaigns to realign the international system away from what it sees as American domination. This course considers the substance and process of Russian national security policy. It acquaints students with the main instruments and mechanisms available to Russian leaders to advance the country’s national interests and key policy priorities. The course considers how Russia formulates and conducts its national security policy, the history that informs it, the political culture that sustain it, the ideas and interests that drive it, and the people and institutions responsible for it. The course addresses Russia’s role in key global and regional issues and its relations with major powers. It places special emphasis on the wars in Ukraine and Syria, Russian concepts of information war, and on Russian military reform.

This course is a seminar-based overview of the role of energy in national security. Using a range of U.S. and non-U.S. case studies, students will review the roles of energy in grand strategy, the role of energy in conflict, and, finally, as a logistical enabler of military operations.

The multiple crises plaguing the world today make evident the mutual inter-dependence and vulnerability of people and nations. The idea of human security has gained increasing significance within this increasingly complex and interconnected world. Human security places emphasis on the security needs of individual citizens, rather than being preoccupied by traditional, state-centric conceptions of security. It takes into account the impact of security threats such as economic crises, pandemics, and climate change on the lives of individuals within and across national boundaries. The course thus draws attention to alternative interpretations of what constitute security threats and how to contend with the underlying causes of volatility and human insecurity that prevail around the world.

This non-technical course introduces the foundational aspects of cybersecurity policy including basic technical principles of networks and their security, principles of strategy and policy, current governance mechanisms for global information infrastructures, and current strategies and policies for cybersecurity for the public and private sectors. It covers current cybersecurity issues, cyber deterrence and conflict, an inventory and description of state and non-state cyber actors, and the nexus between the public and private sectors. The course assumes little to no exposure to technical and policy aspects of cybersecurity.

This course provides an overview of the role of both national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in processes of development, humanitarian response, and the promotion of human rights and active citizenship. The last decade has been one of rapid change in which NGO relationships with government, the private sector, and donors has been in a state of flux, with unprecedented challenges raised about the legitimacy and effectiveness of NGO actors. The course will look at how systemic changes the evolution of transnational advocacy, the aid effectiveness process, the emergence of new development actors from countries (such as India, China and Brazil) to the primacy of the private sector has influenced NGOs. Elective course for the Certificate in Nonprofit Management.

Political risk affects almost every major decision that governments, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and even individuals make, sometimes turning what appears to be a good decision into a bad one, with severe implications. However, few people really understand political risk or how it can be evaluated and mitigated. The goals of this course are to ensure that all students can assess the political risk of a particular country or situation; assess the political risk of a particular business investment; take a much broader perspective on the possible sources of political risk; understand how the way people think and groups function preclude effective decision making (thus making bad decisions more common); evaluate risks using a variety of different risk assessment tools; and leverage a variety of mechanisms to improve risk management.

As China's role on the international stage continues to grow, how will its behavior change the world? Beijing has long espoused a principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, but as China’s overseas presence and interests grow, how is it adjusting its approach to global challenges and influencing the interests of other states? Students will put themselves into the position of national security leaders in China, in the United States, and in third countries to explore a range of national interests, priorities, objectives, strategies, and policy tools.

Since World War II, American trade policy has been implemented through agreements with a growing array of foreign governments to encourage global economic integration by lowering barriers to international trade. The course will begin with a look at the foundation of this approach to trade policy at the end of World War II and the relationship the Roosevelt and Truman administrations saw between integration and security policy. It will then introduce students to the American trade regime of the early 21st century and the WTO, and examine the ways the U.S. governments has adapted this regime to regional challenges arising from relationships with Japan, China, and the Muslim world, and to policy issues, like resource dependence, sanctions and export controls. The course will have a midterm exam on America’s trade regime and the concepts that have shaped it, and a final paper, in which students will examine an issue of their choice in depth. (Recommended elective for MA in Public Management)

The course examines how terrorist groups finance their operations. It also explores current policy approaches to curb financial support to terrorists through the application of U.S. and international sanctions, in particular how multilateral fora, such as the United Nations and the Financial Action Task Force, disrupt and deter terrorist financing. At the completion of this course, students will have a better understanding of the key tools, including law enforcement, diplomacy, and intelligence, that are used to counter terrorists’ financial networks and activities. Through this course, students will develop proficiency in a series of analytic methods used to study terrorist financing and counter financing. Students will use structured analytic tools such as weighted ranking methods, scenario trees, causal flow diagramming, hypothesis testing, and utility analysis, as well as game theory and logic to form analytic judgments. Prior coursework or professional experience in intelligence, (counter) terrorism, or finance recommended.

What makes some countries grow while others do not? What accounts for successful economic development versus stagnation? As these questions become ever more relevant in an increasingly globalized world, this course offers an introduction to the topic. The class will provide an overview of the main classic and current theories of economic development. It will then go on to explore specific current issues in development, including: development aid, role of international organizations, sustainable development, corruption, institution building and regime type. Specific case studies will be examined including China and India, the East Asian 'tigers', development failures in Africa and mixed outcomes in Latin America.

(Core course for the MA in Global Security Studies). This course is designed for students who have already passed 470.851 Introduction to Qualitative Methods in Social Science and either 470.854 Fundamentals of Quantitative Methods or 470.853 Historical Methods (or 470.709 Quantitative Methods with permission from program director). In this class, students will begin and complete a substantial piece of original research explicitly drawing on research methods they learned in the previous two classes. The research study is expected to be methodologically sound and to make a useful contribution to the issue under study. Class meetings are designed to give guidance in the clarification of issues, collection of data, assembly of various parts, and writing. The class will also prepare students for final defense. Graduation is subject to approval of the research study by the committee. Students should come into the class prepared with a detailed research question. Students may enroll in this course only in their last semester of the MA program.

The course is designed to introduce students to the process by which environmental policy can be implemented as law in the international sphere. “Law of the Sea” formed the foundation of modern public international law. It also represents the world’s first efforts to define and regulate a “global commons” and to grapple with the management of resources as the “common heritage of mankind”. Topics explored include freedom of navigation on the high seas, the limits on port-state jurisdiction over foreign vessels, and the scope of coastal nations’ power to regulate activities in their respective territorial waters, “contiguous zones”, and “exclusive economic zones”. The course also examines how the UNCLOS regime functions in tandem with other treaties, customary international law, the role of voluntary standards (such as American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International and International Organization for Standardization (ISO)) and domestic law in addressing specific current issues - including management of living and nonliving resources on the Continental Shelf, deep seabed mining, reduction of pollution, protection of highly migratory fish stocks, aquaculture, “marine dead zones”, and the future of ocean policy.

Climate change impacts and policies effect different groups of people in varying ways. More vulnerable populations will disproportionately experience impacts more severely (drought, flooding, food security, storms, heat islands, changes to resources and livelihoods). Also, policies to mitigate and adapt to climate change will have differential impacts. In this course, we will review both climate impacts and proposed policies through the lens of equity and justice. Topics to cover will include: analysis of differential impacts, equity critique of mitigation policies, and the impact of adaptation policies on the poor and people of color. The course will cover both the US and international topics.

Covering over 70% of our planet, the ocean produces half the planet’s oxygen, absorbs a quarter of all carbon dioxide emissions, feeds 3 billion people, and contributes $3 trillion per year to the global economy. Yet, we know more about the moon’s surface than we do about the bottom of the ocean. What we do know, however, is that overfishing, pollution, land-use change, and ocean warming and acidification, to name a few, are causing marine biodeterioration and threatening the ability of the ocean to sustain global systems critical for life. This course will provide students with a robust scientific approach to the study of oceans with a focus on environmental issues, governance and social-ecological systems. This is an interdisciplinary course that examines the history of human interactions with ocean environments, current ocean sustainability issues, and real-world examples of how to advance ocean conservation practices and theories in the future. Students will investigate approaches to protect ocean ecosystems, to promote innovation in ocean governance, and to increase scientific knowledge, research and technology that supports ocean health. This course provides a holistic and systems-based view of how human interactions influence ocean functions and of innovative policies and sustainable management solutions to social and environmental problems stemming from those interactions.

This course introduces students to environmental markets and the policies that create them, focusing mainly on emissions trading systems to mitigate climate change. The course also provides an introduction to attributes of the financial sector through its analysis of markets for environmental commodities Students learn the economic theory behind market-based environmental policy instruments, such as tradable renewable energy credits, carbon offsets, and water rights in a semester of lectures featuring presentations from practitioners, including state and federal government, private companies subject to market-based emissions regulation, commodity brokers, and representatives from international institutions. Offered online on-site twice per year.

Europe, the Middle East & North Africa (MENA), and Asia are interdependent geoeconomic domains with interlinked energy markets. This course will provide an overview of the main topics that characterize the structure and fundamental dynamics of energy markets in these regions and how energy security and economic development strategies shape the fate of nations. Students will learn the historic, economic, political, structural, and operational aspects of the regions' energy industries, with a particular emphasis on the production and transportation of petroleum and natural gas. The course will also explore how economic development, energy and national security, environmental considerations, and technology evolution shape and disrupt these relationships. Students will learn how the strategies of nations, national and private energy companies, and the role of international and intergovernmental organizations, such as OPEC and the European Commission, interact to shape the future direction of energy markets and the planet. The course will familiarize students with publicly available sources of data on energy in these regions.

Students should be aware of state-specific information for online programs. For more information, please contact an admissions representative.

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