PUBPOL 750.007: Topics: Civil Conflict

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Fall 2020
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Instructor: Christian Davenport

History abounds with a diverse array of "conflictual" or "contentious" activities that take place within the territorial jurisdiction of nation-states, involving (explicitly or implicitly) violence, force and aggression meant to influence the direction of the relevant territorial unit. This course explores this range of activities, typically discussed individually but not generally brought together in any systematic fashion.  For example, the violence in Rwanda during 1994 is generally discussed as a genocide but the interstate war, civil war, sexual violence, human rights violations/state repression, opportunistic personal violence and random violent activity that took place before, during, and after is largely ignored.  Only if all these distinct forms of contention are viewed in tandem can one understand what took place and how it could have been stopped.  The topic of civil conflict stands as a large and constantly growing area cutting crossing disciplines (e.g., political science, sociology, history, psychology, economics and biology) and fields (e.g., international relations, comparative and american politics). Within the course we will address conceptualization, dominant theoretical as well as methodological approaches, data and findings. The objective is to set the student on the path toward creating as well as understanding original research and then applying this work towards diverse problems in the world (i.e., peace and security).  Toward this end, students will generate diverse outputs: e.g., a part of a research article, a policy brief, an op-ed and a podcast. 

Prof. Davenport's website, with examples of his research on civil conflict: