New Security Issues in a Globalized World

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Course Information
Discipline(s): 
Political Science
International Relations
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Credits: 
3
Language of instruction: 
English
Description: 

This seminar aims at providing an introduction to the main concepts in contemporary security studies, so as to propose a framework for understanding key aspects in crisis management. Security used to be conceptualized within the narrow frame of state security and international relations, but approaches in terms of new security threats have profoundly changed these assumptions. Nowadays, issues related to threats posed by non-state actors such as terrorist groups or global challenges linked to transnational politics and economics are high on the security agenda, blurring the difference between home security and protection from external threats. Security also goes beyond approaches focusing on the menace posited by an enemy to incorporate food security and environmental security in a context marked by an increased concern for sustainable development and the interdependency of economies. Yet this extension of the concept of security has led to fierce debates within the field of security studies, leading to contrasted and conflictive accounts of what security is and what are the main threats that should be tackled by security policies – the possibility of war or more general and pervasive situations of insecurity? The dangers posited by rebellious actors or the risks associated with public policies? The course will be attentive to mapping these various positions and to showing how they contribute to the constant rejuvenation of security studies.

We will link this introduction to contemporary trends in security issues to the specific phenomena of growing cultural diversity, which resulted from the contemporary process of globalization. We live in increasingly diverse societies where global and local politics interplay in ways that multiply sources of tensions. Specific security issues, such as transnational terrorism and transnational criminal networks have been explicitly linked by some commentators to problems generated by cultural diversity or to a failure of multiculturalist policies. Yet others have noticed that increased cultural diversity creates an opportunity for better intercultural dialogue and for the rise of new security actors and tools: a more thorough understanding and recognition of cultural diversity would then lead to more efficient approaches to the concrete conditions of human security. Without taking sides, this course will aim at examining this growing connection between security and multiculturalism, either by looking at theories and practices which effectively stretch across both or by mainstreaming multicultural approaches into security studies. What are these new security issues linked to cultural diversity and multiculturalism? How do they materialize in situations of crises? What are the tools used by state and non-state actors to manage these crises and what are the ethical and legal issues induced by them?

Not only will this seminar aim at answering these questions, it will also introduce students to the topic of crisis management by giving them tools to identify the crisis, analyze its key features and the strategic as well as operational issues linked to it. Far from adopting a “one-size-fits-all” approach to security studies, which tends to apply concepts and practices elaborated in the US everywhere in the world, the seminar will underline key European perspectives to security, which shall lead students to an increased awareness of intercultural issues in transnational security management.