The growing dominance of economic relations among nations requires a keen understanding of economic statecraft. Statecraft is the resolution of conflicts between governments and private parties. An essential skill for economic statecraft is to understand conflict.
To facilitate our exploration of conflict, the course draws from the field of conflict analysis and resolution, a field which seeks to intervene constructively in conflicts. However, constructive intervention demands that we think critically about conflict in order to discern its underlying causes and to understand its dynamics. From such an understanding, you may develop meaningful objectives to address, resolve, or perhaps even transform the conflict into something constructive. Moreover, objectives grounded in a thorough understanding of the conflict should drive the intervention strategy. If the linkage between analytic findings, objectives, and strategy is present, then the likelihood of a constructive outcome increases substantially. The course is designed to help you to think more critically about conflict, providing you with some tools to structure your analysis, shape your intervention objectives, and develop your strategy to achieve those objectives.
This course is inherently multi and interdisciplinary, drawing on conceptual frameworks derived from psychology, sociology, anthropology, international relations, political science, economics, and other social sciences, but also informed by all fields of human inquiry. Students will critically apply theories to seek a better understanding of conflicts, to intervene constructively, and to advance theory and practice related to statecraft.
This course explores a wide range of conflict-related theories. We begin by considering conflict narratives and discourses and our ability to think critically about conflict. Then, we will examine the major, often overlapping theories at work in the field, loosely categorized as theories of social structure, theories of human nature, and theories of culture and meaning-making.
Theories of human nature and identity – viewing each individual as a unit of analysis; accounting for “what is inside of you” with an emphasis on what lies beneath the conscious level
Theories of social structure – viewing a social institution, typically comprising sustained, hierarchical, and multi-layered relationships, as a unit of analysis; accounting for “what you are inside of” ?
Theories of culture – viewing an epistemological system of meaning-making as a unit of analysis; accounting for “what is inside us” with an emphasis on shared interpretive lenses with which to understand intercultural social phenomenon.