National security challenges facing Australia and the world involve many complex risks and challenges from diverse sources. What exactly is national security? How does it relate to international and domestic security? How does national security relate to interests, values and identity? Beyond the headlines and the politics, how can we distinguish what really constitutes a national security threat? How can we critically assess the security policy responses that governments make? This course equips students with conceptual and analytical skills and frameworks to address these core questions.
Having established the complexities of 21st century national security and assessed different definitions of national security in terms of interests, values and identity, we will look at threats and risks emanating from the international, domestic and individual realms. The course enables student to assess the causal role of these variables, looking at the comparative method and more complex causal dynamics including path dependence and feedback, as well as how to use (and not to use) history to support policy prescriptions. Students will apply these tools to texts ranging from Australian government policy statements to canonical scholarly works to illuminate their strengths and weaknesses. Students will interact with policy practitioners to understand how conceptual frameworks help explain the ways in which contemporary security challenges are understood by government. The course concludes by setting the scene for a subsequent course on translating conceptual analysis into making policy. Learning activities will include lectures, tutorials, analytical exercises and interactive discussions with a team combining academic experts and senior policy practitioners, in line with the National Security College’s signature pedagogy.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Identify and assess the causal forces and complex national security dynamics in which policy must be made, with reference to both contemporary and historical cases
- Develop an independent and intellectually rigorous conception of national security, taking into account interests, values, identity and the nexus of domestic and international security
- Use these frameworks and skills to analyse and critique actual policy choices made in Australia’s 21st century national security experience
- Produce written policy analysis of pressing contemporary national security concerns that is theoretically grounded and empirically supported.
- Policy Speech Analysis (30) [LO 1,3]
- Analytical Essay (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Take Home Exam (30) [LO 1,3,4]
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12 weekly 2-hour seminars and 12 one-hour tutorials. In addition the expectation of a further independent study to total 130 over the duration of the semester.
Requisite and Incompatibility
There is no required textbook, but journal articles and book chapters are assigned from Political Science, International Relations, Comparative Politics, Strategic Studies, Economics, Social Psychology, History, Methodology, Philosophy and Policy Analysis. This reflects the interdisciplinary nature of national security studies.
-U.S. National Intelligence Council, Global Trends: Paradox of Progress (January 2017): https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/nic/GT-Full-Report.pdf, 1-66, 96-108
-Robert Jervis, System Effects: Complexity in Political and Social Life (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997) 125-127, 137-151, 155-176
-Arnold Wolfers, ‘“National Security” as an ambiguous symbol’, Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 67, 1952, pp. 481-502.
-Barry Buzan, People, States and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era, Chapters 1 and 2.
-Michael Beckley, “The Power of Nations: Measuring What Matters,” International Security 2018 Vol. 43 No. 2 7-44
-David Ekbladh, “Present at the Creation: Edward Mead Earle and the Depression-era Origin of Security Studies”, International Security, Vol. 36. No 3, 2011-12, 107-141.
-James Fearon, “Rationalist Explanations for War,” International Organization 49 Summer 1995, 379-414
-John Stuart Mill, A System of Logic (London: Longmans, 1868)
-Geddes, Barbara "How the Cases You Choose Affect the Answers You Get: Selection Bias in Comparative Politics." Political Analysis 1990 2: 131-150
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