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Why War?

Subject code


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Course Long Title

Why War?


What causes wars? Conversely, what prevents war, why do many crises end without war? Given the great costs of war to civilians, soldiers, and societies, why do states take the leap into the unknown? War’s consequences extend well beyond the battlefield, transforming societies and changing governments and borders. Over the last decades, civil wars have become frequent, but wars between states still trouble many regions and colonial wars have had persistent effects. A central question is the extent to which wars are the purposeful, rational pursuit of policy, the result of misperception, or the result of seemingly inexorable forces over which there is little control. Students examine the leading theories, their key concepts and causal variables, and the causal paths leading to war or to peace. They also consider the degree of empirical support for various theories and hypotheses. Students study a range of texts and write a range of papers, including a final research paper.

Modes of Inquiry

Analysis and Critique [AC], Historical and Social Inquiry [HS]

Writing Credit


Departmental Course Attributes - Major/Minor Requirements

(PLTC: Security,Conflict,Coop)

Class Restriction

Exclude Sophomores, Exclude Juniors, Exclude Seniors, 05