POLIS 3002 - International Security

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2022

This course explores how the paradigm of security is undergoing rapid and radical transformation. Informed by the prevailing debates, theories and essential concepts in the field of security studies, the course assesses some of the central axioms of international and national security in the context of an emergent class of transnational security dilemmas. The course begins by exploring the paradigm of 'security' as it relates to sovereignty, the state (where one exists) and the safety of a people. The evolution of this concept is traced historically variously through wars, conflicts, emancipatory struggles, colonialism, the Cold War and the establishment of international system. Discussion of these issues is framed by prevailing debates - of (neo)realism, liberalism and constructivism - over the status (and value) of international institutions and norms, particularly those relating to conflict resolution, humanitarian intervention, human rights and displaced peoples. We then consider how the concepts of 'national' or 'international' security are fundamentally transformed by (i) transnational dilemmas that undermine long-standing principles of sovereignty, independence and border integrity, and (ii) states? weakening capacity to deliver security outcomes. Thus we consider how traditional state-based threats interact with the incipient rise of non-traditional security challenges, from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and fragile/fragmenting states, to new technologies of violence, maritime security in the Indo-Pacific, and proliferating cyber assaults on infrastructure and democratic processes. Theoretically and conceptually, throughout the course we reflect critically on the mobilisation of new security policies and transnational security initiatives to ask how the `referents? of security are being changed, by whom and to what end. This element of the course reflects on the debates between mainstream and critical security perspectives on the state: querying how security is constituted; why and how policy issues come to be framed as security issues; and the ethical repercussions and ramifications for democracy.

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