Graduate School of Arts & Science, Program in International Relations
Cultural values, particularly religious ones, as well as emotions are underestimated in analyses that emphasize rational decision-making. Some of the deepest yearnings in human beings can be of critical importance in sustaining what are defined in the literature as “intractable” social conflicts. Strict cost-benefit calculations figure prominently in instrumental decision-making pertaining to goals with adjustments necessary should the costs be too high to achieve specific objectives. What analysts may term “culturally sacred” values is less sensitive to calculations of cost and benefit – a fact ignored in Realpolitik explanations. This course investigates the issues pertaining to religious values and the limits of rational choice querying the influence of culturally sacred values in support of political violence within Israel and in the Middle East. This course is designed with extensive pedagogical guidance from Schusterman Center for Israel Studies faculty at Brandeis University to assess the potential over the medium to long term for protracted internal conflict in Israel while considering several concerns: 1) the growing divide between the Left and Right within Israeli politics as the intractable conflict with Palestine endures; 2) the deep gulfs among Jews on the country’s diverse religious landscape; as well as 3) the impact of settler violence in the West Bank on Israel’s relations with the United States, France, and Germany. In terms of graduate candidate research, the course explores in a comparative manner the extent to which religious values sustain clashes between political cultures.
This course provides students with a working knowledge and experience of conflict resolution integrating participation in the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network in North America and the Global Diplomacy Lab. We explore the history, methods, practice, and theory of conflict resolution. Basic strategies in the conflict literature – competitive versus collaborative negotiation – are learned along with a comparison of strategic alternatives in the areas of relationship, power balance, communication, perception of value differences, and tactics. Modules address framing the post-9/11 strategic context, basic human needs theory, gender and conflict resolution, protracted social conflict, the relevance of “provention” to conflict analysis, the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and religion in conflict resolution, as well as the uses of mobile technology and social media platforms in conflict environments. The BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network in North America and the Global Diplomacy Lab provide technology-mediated learning, research, and service components to the course.
School of Professional Studies, Center for Global Affairs
The demise of the Soviet Union and its empire, the legacy of colonialism, resurgent nationalism and new non-state actors have given rise to a period of complexity and rapid change in international relations. The academic debate reflects this uncertainty with contending theories about what constitutes power in the post-Cold War environment, how to identify the basic units of international affairs, the nature of globalization, the utility and legitimacy of the use of force, the balance of power, the nature of threats to peace and stability, and the role of international institutions. This course will examine alternative non-Western theories and frameworks for understanding post-Cold War developments, and test these theories against emergent reality. How, for example, do these contending theories explain the origins and consequences of terrorism and other global threats? What importance do they assign to: the persistence of poverty and global inequality; internal ethno/religious conflict, mass atrocities and genocide; political instability; global health pandemics; and ‘globalization and its discontents?’ How do these theories assess the potential and implications of renewed great power conflict? How do they address the problem of U.S. hegemony and the reaction of others (states and non-states) to this new reality?
What are the fault lines threatening Europe’s postwar integration? In the age of artificial intelligence, nationalism fuses with ethnicity and religion in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, which creates the conditions for “reciprocal radicalization” across the Continent. Weekly sessions explore the present context of the Far Right’s influence across Europe, the separatist movement in Catalonia, and the impact of Brexit. Russia’s influence on Hungary, a European Union member state rejecting liberal values, and Turkey, a country at the crossroads of continental security, allow discussions to focus on likely scenarios that challenge the 20th century integration narrative. Geopolitical implications for rising powers China and India are drawn. The changes introduced by transnational migration are explored in terms of the “migration-terrorism nexus” with a focus on the future of European societies in this century. Our attention turns as well to a consideration of the post-September 11 environment, the Iraq war, and the EU-Russia strategic relationship, particularly in terms of energy security, as each context influences intra-European dynamics and the Euro-Atlantic area. The prospect of future enlargements aims to encourage democracy and open markets in neighbouring states as European integration experiences its most profound crisis in decades. The mixed successes of democratization and multiculturalism in Europe are a testing ground for theories of democratic change. This policy-oriented, interactive seminar, designed in consultation with colleagues at the Women’s Islamic Initiative for Spirituality and Equality (WISE), the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD), and the United Nations Counterterrorism Executive Directorate (UN CTED), integrates virtual reality to connect its members through learning, research, and service to internships and professional opportunities in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States.
The fall of the Berlin Wall on 11/9/1989 through the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001 marked a pivotal epoch that bridged millennia and shattered the peace. This course analyzes the dynamics of ethnic conflicts in comparative perspective emphasizing the influence of culture, history, identity, leadership, and nationalism as well as the evolving influence, constructive and destructive, of new technologies. The arguments of Jesse and Williams, Koff, Chalk, and Rotberg are analyzed with those of other analysts in order to provide a conceptual orientation for our interactions with scholars and practitioners in the field. Our understanding of conflict in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda in the 1990s as well as Guatemala in the early 21st century impact on the way in which relations among nations after the Cold War were interpreted – less rational and structural, as during the period 1945-89 – and influenced more by culture, identity, and religion. A discussion of specific conflicts in terms of the primordial (ancient hatreds) and social constructionist schools (elite (political entrepreneur) manipulation/ modernization), complements our analysis of factors having an impact on deep-rooted conflict, namely, decolonization, the end of the Cold War, and the state in crisis. Specific modules emphasize the importance of narratives in Middle East violence.
As a complement to International Relations in the Post-Cold War Era (IRP-CWE) in the core of the MSGA curriculum, this course analyzes and assesses the emergence of new political and social activities that have developed beyond traditional experiences and parameters of the nation-state. Our community analyzes and queries Global Civil Society (GCS), referencing literature ranging from Castells to Ronalds, as we draw extensively on innovative applications of new technologies in the constructivist pedagogical tradition. Why? What is our purpose as a graduate learning and research community in this course?
Developments in communications technology and social media since the end of the Cold War lead us to examine the ways in which novel, unprecedented interactions emerge outside hierarchies in traditional organizations. As we bear witness to individuals empowered with agency in the 21st century world, diffuse networks are likewise offered new opportunities to influence global affairs.
Course modules explore the interplay between theory and history delving more deeply to investigate local experiences. Ours is a journey utilizing concepts that travel to explore comparatively the indigenous quest for voices that articulate constructed narratives, relating context specificity to a nascent minimal consensus emerging around what constitutes global civil society.
The syllabus design is organized with modular reference to Castells investigation of GCS from diverse perspectives, including: (1) local civil society actors [narratives]; (2) the rise of non-governmental organizations (NGOs); (3) social movements; and (4) the movement of public opinion & implications at the global level [notably around issues of social justice].
One course-related initiative was a session at the UN during which course participants learned about the global campaign of Rotary International to eradicate polio in our world.
To learn more about this course, watch the video below.