Policy and Politics of Conflict (Spring 2018), University of Arizona 

Course Description


Figure: Ares and Athena (Greek Vase Painting), National Archaeological Museum of Florence

Figure: Ares and Athena (Greek Vase Painting),
National Archaeological Museum of Florence

“Ares, manslaughtering, blood-stained, stormer of strong walls.”
“Pallas Athena, the glorious goddess, bright-eyed, inventive, unbending of heart, pure virgin, savior of cities, courageous, Tritogeneia.”

Athena and Ares are the goddess and god of war in Greek mythology. Although both engaged in the sphere of war, there was a striking difference in their qualities. Identified as a goddess of intelligence and wisdom, Athena represented the virtues of justice and skill that led to victory and glory. On the other hand, Ares symbolized mere violence and rage. 


With the eyes of Athena… 

This course addresses the key issues regarding the causes and conduct of various conflicts – interstate wars, militarized disputes, international crises, state repression, civil wars, and terrorism. Given that conflicts are social problems to be solved, we will attempt to understand the causes and conduct of interstate and intrastate conflicts as a first step for better policy choices. The key questions we will discuss are as follows: Why are there interstate wars? How does each school of international relations theories explain the causes of war? Why do states have wars which cost human lives and material resources?  Which pairs of states are more likely fight against each other? Do democratic countries more peacefully interact with each other? Within a country, what kind of actors influence decision-making process in crises? Under what conditions are governments more likely to repress their own people? What are the causes of civil war and terrorism? To answer these questions we read classic literature in conflict studies and participate in class discussion. In this course, we learn and think further for better policy choices building upon the wisdom of conflict studies literature. Thus, this course is not merely about violence. Rather, it is about how to suggest solutions to violence with intelligence and wisdom –i.e. with the eyes of Athena.

Introduction to International Relations (Summer 2017 & 2018), 

“At a coffeehouse near campus, Sharon ordered a cup of Kenyan coffee, her favorite. She started to write an internship application to the International Labor Organization, specifically to work on the issue of child labor. Later, Carlos stopped by to catch up with her. Carlos was worried about his relatives and friends in Venezuela due to the recent economic and political crises. To change Carlos’ mood, Sharon started to talk about vacation plans. Sharon will visit her parents in Florida. As sugar farmers, her parents have been busy these days cooperating with the other sugar producers to prevent Mexico’s subsidized sugar dumping in the US market.”

What can you see in the fictional story? If you can see the complex interactions in world politics, you are already on the right track. If you cannot yet, don’t worry! 
This course offers students an introduction to the study of world politics. The main topic of this course is the interactions among governments, groups, and citizens in three main fields of world politics—war and peace, political economy, and transnational politics. For this academic journey, students will learn the primary theoretical approaches to the study of international relations and be encouraged to use these tools for their own analysis.