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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Kazimierz Poznanski
SIS 490
Seattle Campus

Special Topics

Content varies from quarter to quarter.

Class description

NOTE: this course may be re-coded as SIS 310 before the start of AQ 2010. Myth of War Provides a review of the political economy of war in a global perspective covering Western and Eastern views. In Western thinking the dominant view is mercantilism, where the autonomous state is a key actor and war is the principal strategy for survival. War and the state as an instrument of war are also central to the competing paradigms (classical, liberal, and Marxist). Through detailed analysis of historical material on wars (national, civil, and imperial) an argument is made that, by major measurements, wars engage very limited resources (forces raised and losses incurred). This contrast between concepts of history stressing war and the historical reality of the limited role of wars is of practical consequences as it increases the propensity to war. With a view of the world where the state is an instrument of peace and wars are the weapons of the last resort, this propensity is reduced. The contrast between these two general visions of the role of war in history is documented not only with rich war statistics but also by examining respective cultures, notably literature, painting and music. This comparison is focused on Western culture and that of China as a crucial part of the Eastern world.

Student learning goals

a better understanding of the extent to which war is an intellectual construct in Western thinking

a clearer appreciation to what extent the world is driven by conflict (war) as opposed to cooperation (peace)

how to formulate an agenda for empirical research

the scope of differences in the world perspective shared by various parts of the world

engage in learning through in-depth historical research

General method of instruction

Lectures, class discussion, in-class presentations

Recommended preparation

Recommended: general grounding in basic elements of comparative political economy.

Class assignments and grading

Grades based on class participation, three non-cumulative tests, and a paper to be presented in class.


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: 04/19/2010