This Area of Concentration covers the fundamentals of administering and preserving American security.
Area of Concentration Courses
A minimum of four courses is required to earn this Area of Concentration within the MA in Government program.
Please note that any course offering in the MA in Global Security Studies program also counts toward this concentration.
In the wake of the financial crisis, bank bailouts, and stimulus plans, the relationship between American economic power and national security is especially salient. In this course, students investigate core topics in international political economy, analyzing the security implications of each. Topics include trade relations, international finance, monetary relations, poverty, and development. (Core course for the MA in Global Security Studies. Recommended elective for MA in Public Management)
This course provides an overview of the manifold challenges and opportunities for United States security in the current disordered and changing world. It aims to help students assess why events occur and what policies are developed in response. In that endeavor, the course has three major objectives. First, the course will review the major perspectives on, and debates about, U.S. security and the institutions through which policy is made and executed. Second, the course will review some U.S. security issues through scholarly, policy, political, and historical lenses. Third, the course will help students write for both policy and academic audiences. This course is not open to students who have had 470.606 American National Security.
This course provide an overview of the principal areas important to the study of terrorism. The course offers a variety of academic, policy, and operational models, theories, approaches, and concepts regarding the definitions of terrorism, the nature and functioning of various terrorist groups across the globe, and a variety of domestic and international governmental operational and policy responses. Through this exploration, students will be able to identify patterns of behavior of both terrorist groups and governmental responses, and will also be able to identify gaps, and principal areas of improvements in how we understand, and respond to this important security challenge.
This class will examine the role of Congress in the making of American foreign policy. In particular, this class will discuss the role of Congress in war powers, economic sanctions, human rights advocacy, the approval of international agreements including treaties, international affairs budgets and spending, investigations and oversight of the conduct of foreign policy by the executive branch as well as the impact of Congress on the general direction of American foreign policies and priorities. Special attention will be given to the role of Congress in U.S. policy toward Iran over the past few decades, the use of military force in Iraq and Syria, the role of the legislative branch in U.S policy toward China and Taiwan and the promotion of human rights as a component of American foreign policy. The class will seek to examine the specific actions of Congress on these matters, and their causes and consequences. The class will use books, articles and original source material from committee deliberations and floor action. As we examine these topics, we will come back to larger themes – the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches, the impact of partisan and bureaucratic politics, and the changing role of the United States on the world stage. All this will be discussed with a mind to the role of foreign policy practitioners.
The South Asian region, with its complex historical context, a large and diverse population, and contested national borders, especially between nuclearized countries, poses some of the toughest security challenges facing the world. This course highlights salient security challenges in South Asia, and draws out their implications for U.S. strategic interests. It examines the sources and implications of the rivalry between nuclearized India and Pakistan, and how it fuels Sino-Indian security competition. Attention is drawn to the sources of militancy in India, and to the threats to international and regional security arising from the conflict in Afghanistan. The Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger insurgency and its eventual defeat in 2009 are also discussed, alongside the rising Islamist militancy threats in Bangladeshi, and the history of Maoist insurgency in Nepal. Finally, some of the climate-based threats to which no South Asian country is immune will also be discussed.
This course focuses on transnational security issues and considers how many of these myriad challenges constitute threats to global peace and security. The combined effects of issues such as drug, weapons, and human trafficking, piracy, terrorism, infectious diseases, and deliberate environmental destruction, along with such critical enablers as corruption, and money movements, are not strangers on the world stage. What is new is their global reach and destructive potential. As a result, these issues have made policy makers consider different conceptions of security and, at times, to move beyond sole considerations of state sovereignty into the realm of human security. Not only are transnational security issues varied in nature and scope, but their effects often are obscured by the fact that many are nascent with gradual and long-term consequences. Further, while some transnational issues may not constitute direct threats to global security, they may threaten the world economy, and quality of life of its citizens. Still others compound and reinforce each other, generating mutations of the original threats. This course will examine a small number of these transnational security issues and relevant policy-making efforts.
Much of international politics in the last century can be described as a conflict between liberal democracy and its modern critics. During this period the values and political structures of liberal democracy have been extended to more parts of the world than ever before. Yet the same era also saw the emergence of powerful challengers to liberal democracy from both the right and the left. The resulting clash of ideologies defined such conflicts as World War II and the Cold War. In this course we will survey the intellectual roots of Fascism, National Socialism, and Communism. We will also examine the question of Islam and democracy looking at both its proponents and its radical critics in the Islamic world. Among those whose writings we will examine are Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin, Benito Mussolini, Carl Schmitt, Charles Maurras, Syed Qutb, Ali Shariati, Muktedar Khan, and Ruhollah Khomeini.
This course counts towards the Security Studies concentration.
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 will comprise a comprehensive examination of what deterrence is and what it will require in the 21st century. It will seek to grapple with and provide insights on a range of fundamental questions of theoretical and policy import including, What comprises deterrence in the years ahead?; How should decision makers understand the many new relevant domains and capabilities (not just nuclear, but space, cyber, missile defenses, advanced conventional) in which deterrence issues and concerns may well have to be paramount in their minds?; What are the roles and requirements of extended deterrence in the emerging geopolitical environment?; How might deterrence come to play in emerging areas such as hybrid warfare?; How might deterrence fail?; and What are the intentional and unintentional escalation paths and dynamics, including cross-domain dynamics, likely to be at work in crises and conflicts ahead?
This course will explore some of the most contested and controversial aspects in contemporary security studies. There are a number of contentious and wide-ranging debates around ideas like radicalization not least concerning its definition, causes, and effects. This course will also prompt you to consider broader issues, such as whether there is a causal link between extremism and violent extremism? Why do some radicalized individuals to embrace terrorism, when other don’t? And should security officials concern themselves with radicalization, or only with its violent offshoots? This course will unpack many of these debates, exploring academic and theoretical literature surrounding the issues of radicalization, recruitment, and deradicalization in modern terrorist networks. It will focus primarily on cases in Europe and the United States, while also exploring new phenomena such as homegrown, self-starter, and lone wolf terrorism.
This course examines how states (primarily the United States) and other political entities harness military capabilities to pursue of policy objectives. It exposes students to levels of strategy—grand strategy, strategy, operations, and tactics—in a national security context. The course will then focus on the practical implications and unique characteristics of military strategy. Students will critically examine topics such as civil-military relations, land warfare, naval warfare, theories of airpower, insurgency and counterinsurgency, and nuclear warfare. The goal is to understand the embedded assumptions of the various theories, the characteristics of the military capabilities animated by them, and, through discussion and case studies, the strengths and limitations of each.
Counterterrorism is essentially an intelligence war. By definition, both sides use small forces and clandestine means, hiding their presence and activities not only from each other, but often from friends and allies as well. This course will explore the many roles of intelligence in every facet of counterterrorism, and ask students to evaluate their practical, legal, and moral effects and implications. It will also look at the terrorists’ own intelligence activities, and the “intelligence race” between terrorists and counterterrorists. There are no pre-requisites for this course. However, students would be well served to have a basic familiarity with intelligence and terrorism before the class starts.
This course introduces students to the field of intelligence, particularly as practiced in the United States. After a brief overview of the historical foundations of modern intelligence, it discusses how intelligence was conducted during the 20th century including collection, analysis, counterintelligence, covert action, and oversight. It then discusses the disruptive influences of September 11, the Iraq War, and new technologies. The course concludes with a discussion of the “democratization of intelligence."
This course will address the ethical dilemmas and issues that challenge intelligence and government decision makers in an increasingly complex operational and technological environment. We will examine basic moral, ethical and privacy considerations at several key points in intelligence operations from collection to covert action. The course will analyze the evolving nature of privacy concerns worldwide, with an emphasis on the balance between individual rights and national security. Students will examine the policy implications inherent in seeking to address these tensions. The readings will include diverse and opposing viewpoints as well as practicums and simulations to allow debate of the key positions. Prior enrollment in 406.665 "The Art and Practice of Intelligence" or 470.711 "Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy" is strongly encouraged.