COAS | Coping with War
S104 | 0114 | McGinnis

Seminar 0114 11:15a-12:30p TR

Conflicts in remote areas of the world erupt onto the public agenda without advance warning and fade just as quickly, only to resurface in another guise a few years down the road. If you rely on political leaders or the news media to inform you about international crises, then you are condemning yourself to a life of confusion. Thanks to the World Wide Web, an incredible amount of information on international conflicts is available to anyone with access to a computer. However, it is often difficult to interpret information from widely varying sources, each with their own biases and distortions. This course is designed to help you learn how to use this information to understand wars and crises, wherever and whenever they may occur.

The class will be divided into working groups, each of which will examine a different conflict. (Selection of cases will be made during class, since we can't tell ahead of time which crises will be underway when the semester begins.) Each group will prepare reports on the issues at stake, why the parties consider these issues to be important, and what the U.S. or the international community can do to encourage the parties to resolve their differences peacefully. Individual students will specialize in understanding the positions adopted by one or more participants, including UN agencies and humanitarian aid organizations. Each working group will present a case for U.S. intervention in their conflict to members of another class.

There will be two exams, a textbook, and a few other readings, but for the most part students will be uncovering material on their own. You will learn how to gather and evaluate information from news media, reference sources, and, especially, via the Internet. You will develop an ability to understand conflicts from the point of view of participants, while still being able to step back and suggest proposals for conflict resolution. In short, you will learn how the world copes with war.