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Colloquium on State Failure, Warlords, and Pirates

Course number: BC3812

What are sovereign states, and why do they fail? Does their failure matter, either for the well being of their domestic populations or for international security concerns? Is there anything that the international community can do to remedy state failure? This course examines these problems through the lenses of both social science theories and in-depth historical case studies. We will pay special attention to the political economy and security consequences of two forms or consequences of state failure: warlordism and piracy. The course’s primary goals are to use the problem of state failure to develop students’ ability to analyze and critique competing cause-and-effect arguments, and to pose their own causal arguments based on independent research of the existing secondary-source literature. The course is designed to help prepare Barnard students to write the senior thesis in the political science major.