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Technology and Culture

International Relations has long been influenced by emerging technologies and disruptive innovations. Develop expertise on how the use—and misuse—of technology, media, and digital communications shape our evolving cultures and identity.

 

FEATURED COURSES

Examine the issues of technology—including media—and the interplay politics related to culture and identity, including gender, ethnicity, nationalism, and religion.

Islam and Politics: Religion, Power, and World Affairs

Islamic ideas and actors play an important part in global politics today. Their impact on political change, international security, and economic and social trends has shaped international relations in recent years.

The rise of Islamist activism has been central to this development. This course will examine the role that Islamism plays in politics in Muslim countries; trace the origins and development of its formative ideas; introduce the key forces that represent it; and analyze its development and conception of politics and international relations. The Course will introduce the foundational ideas of Islamism, examine the life and works of key thinkers and leaders, and trace the development of leading movements and ideological trends in the context of political and international developments of the past three decades. It will trace the evolution of Islamist thinking from the colonial era through periods of state formation to current debates over future of the Muslim world. The course will discuss continuity and change in Islamist thinking, and the different paths the Islamist discourse has evolved along. The course will rely on theoretical literature and analyses of Islamist movements along with examination of case studies of relations between states and Islamic movements to provide students with both intimate knowledge of the subject and a framework of analysis for understanding Islamic activism in the context of comparative politics and global affairs.

Media Wars

Is social media making our politics more extreme? How does the circulation of “fake news” differ from propaganda efforts of the pre-digital age?

Does it affect our politics in the long-term? How are states using media today not only to inform their own citizens, but as a weapon in larger geo-political contests? Are algorithms racists, and what does that say about the future we are building? This course will take a critical look at the production, circulation, and consumption of media in the contemporary world. We’ll particularly focus on the development of technology, surveillance, cyberwar, militarized media, social movements, and the social life of algorithms. We will explore cases through the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

Gender Inequality and Development

Taught by Jeni Klugman, Fellow Women and Public Policy Program Harvard Kennedy School and Managing Director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and former Director,

Gender and Development, The World Bank, the objectives of this seminar are broadly two-fold: first, to gain a solid understanding of the patterns and constraints of gender inequality around the world up to the present day, and second, to review and debate what we know and don’t know about what policies and programs can work to close gender gaps, with a focus on developing countries. The course is set up around a series of major policy questions central to the gender equality agenda, and linked to international development debates around the 2030 Agenda. Following an overview session about global and regional patterns, each of the subsequent weeks will tackle a series of major policy topics in turn, concluding with an examination of major global proposals to tackle gender inequality. The course will go beyond gender inequality in the labor market to explore patterns of violence, constraints to political participation, among others. Students will be asked to work on a specific policy challenge in a developing country context, applying and developing the findings discussed in class and in the readings. The course is designed to facilitate student questioning, engagement and participation as reflected in the structure and course requirements. No specific textbook is prescribed. There will normally be 2-3 required readings each week -- a paper and/or book chapters -- and additional readings for greater depth. This is a 2 credit class to be paired with Reimagining International Development for Children and Youth.

Anthropology for Strategists

What relevance does anthropology have for the formulation and execution of national security strategy?

This course acquaints students who have a background in strategic studies with anthropological concepts and modes of thinking. Helps students map a social system, identify how power is apportioned within a society, interpret the system of communicative symbols that transmit meaning within a culture, appreciate how and why adversaries fight, identify how cultural forms express and transmit meaning and evaluate social change. Uses a series of case studies to examine how culture affects warfare and the effect of warfare on culture. Limited to 20 students.

LEARN FROM THE BEST

Study with world-class experts who are renowned for their scholarship, influence, and networks.

Narges Bajoghli

Assistant Professor

Lisel Hintz

Assistant Professor of International Relations and European Studies

Chiedo Nwankwor

Lecturer and Director of SAIS Women Lead

Nina Hall

Assistant Professor of International Relations


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