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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jonathan L. Mercer
POL S 403
Seattle Campus

Advanced Seminar in International Relations

Examination of contemporary developments in the field of international relations. Content varies according to the nature of developments and research interests of the instructor.

Class description

Description: This research seminar explores how political scientists use psychology to address questions of war and peace. Deterrence theory frames most discussions of international security and the course begins by reading Thomas Schelling’s classic text on *Arms and Influence*. We will then apply a variety of psychological approaches to specific security problems. For example, we might examine the role played by “cognitive” and “motivated” (or emotional) bias as well as explore recent work that suggests emotion is necessary for rational decision-making. We might explore prospect theory to see if it can sharpen assessments of crisis decision-making. Other topics might include the role of analogies, terrorism, credibility, and intelligence failures.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Assignments: two exams, a paper, presentation of readings, presentation of research paper, regular participation.

Recommended preparation

Texts: Assigned readings will include Schelling, Arms and Influence; perhaps a few other books; articles; and subscription to a national newspaper.

Class assignments and grading

Assignments: two exams, a paper, presentation of readings, presentation of research paper, regular participation.

Grading. Exams: 40 % Papers: 40 % Project/presentation: 20 % TOTAL: 100 %


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.
Additional Information
Last Update by Jonathan L. Mercer
Date: 01/30/2010