World Conflict | SB313 | Mondays 6-10pm, room 601

Welcome to World Conflict. We examine conflicts--from civil unrest to diplomatic fights to all-out war--in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. With the help of books, magazine articles, and films, we look at the roots of conflict, the major players and their motivations, and the impacts of these conflicts on world affairs. Using concrete, on-the-ground examples to illustrate geopolitical concepts, we move from the colonial era through the Cold War and into the current day.

The course is taught by Chris A. Smith, an award-winning magazine journalist and photographer who's covered human rights and war in the Middle East, poverty and protest in southern Africa, and local and national politics at home.

We'll explore these overarching questions:

1. Are the causes of conflict political, cultural, social, geographic, ethnic--or all of the above? 
2. How can we come to appreciate the complexity of our politics--and the politics of our enemies as well?
3. How does an individual (or group or nation)'s interests determine behavior and outcomes? 
4. Where, exactly, does political power come from? How is it gained, and how is it maintained?
5. How can we understand the ways in which the United States acts in the world?

Class website:

Required books:
--Safe Area Gorazde, a graphic novel by Joe Sacco
--A Citizen's Guide to American Foreign Policy, by David Patrick Houghton

The school bookstore should have copies of both books. You can find both pretty cheaply online as well.

You'll find links to all other readings in the online class syllabus.

If you miss a class, check in with me or with a classmate. It’s your responsibility to make sure you stay on top of the work.

Questions? Contact me: chrsmith [at] aii [dot] edu.

(Photograph: Gaza City, Palestine. Copyright: Chris A. Smith.)