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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

James L. Fuller
SIS 490
Seattle Campus

Special Topics

Content varies from quarter to quarter.

Class description

This course provides future non-scientist and scientist international security specialists with a fundamental level of understanding of the history, development, acquisition, and effects of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. A practical overview of WMD proliferation detection and arms control verification technology is provided also, from the unique perspective of the practitioner (Fuller). Successful participation in this course typically requires that the student is already motivated to pursue a career in international security and understands the need to master not only the relevant policy dimensions, but also attain a basic technical competency. The course emphasis is skewed to that of nuclear weapons, but biological and chemical weapons and ballistic missile delivery systems are also reviewed. Historical and current real-world examples of technical arms control and proliferation prevention efforts are core components. In this regard, the nexus between policy and technology is discussed, often in some detail. Current examples of bilateral and multilateral U.S. programs to curb proliferation are discussed, often by guest lecturers from the U.S. Government who currently have or have had a leadership role in conducting the program. As a technical reference, the course uses the text Introduction to Weapons of Mass Destruction by R. Everett Langford (Wiley-Interscience, 2004). Additional policy nexus and program material comes from first-hand accounts by the instructors and other U.S. professionals working in the proliferation prevention and homeland security fields.

Student learning goals

Attain a basic understanding of the design of nuclear, biological, and chemical munitions, as well as ballistic missile delivery systems, to a level that would set the graduate apart when working in the international security community for the U.S. Government or any non-governmental nonproliferation organization

Attain a basic understanding of the critical materials and processes needed to manufacture nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons in order to better understand U.S. and international efforts to control their spread (nuclear) or to assure their complete elimination (biological and chemical), again to set the graduate apart in his/her effort to qualify for postgraduate security studies, international security internships, or employment in the U.S. international security community

In concert with basic technical information provided on WMD, develop an historical perspective of the use of biological and chemical weapons, rocketry, and nuclear weapons

Develop a cursory understanding by example of U.S. and international agreements and programs to eliminate completely, or halt the spread of WMD technology

Develop a cursory understanding by example of the kinds of technical considerations that drive U.S. and international WMD nonproliferation and arms control policy development

In summary, educate and prepare the graduate in advance of employment in the international security arena on the technical dimensions of WMD in order to set him/her apart from peers competing for the same position, as well as to give the successful candidate knowledge not normally acquired in either a social science or physical science university setting in order to substantively contribute earlier in their careers

General method of instruction

Instruction consists of a three-hour lecture on the technical dimensions of WMD, and a one-hour topical discussion session that is tied to the technical lecture but focuses on current policy issues. The lecture sequence roughly follows that chapter sequence in Langford, and as such, chapter reading assignments are detailed for each lecture. The discussion session is usually based on a specific reading that is very current, unless faster-moving world events are of greater relevance. See the listings for the discussion texts, below, for the WQ 2008 discussion session material.

Course grades are based on a 3000-5000 word midterm paper, an objective final examination after a comprehensive review session, and classroom participation/engagement. Graduate students are expected to produce a slightly longer midterm paper and be prepared lead a discussion session on their paper topic or another relevant topic with the approval of the instructor.

Recommended preparation

Pre-review of the WQ 2008 texts, particularly Securing the Bomb 2007 and additional material on the Nuclear Threat Initiative website: www.nti.org.

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by M Jane Meyerding
Date: 10/17/2007