Why do countries go to war? Are the reasons unique to each situation or are there any generalizable determinants of war? This course is a systematic exploration of these questions.
Our approach is organized around four levels of analysis. In each unit, we’ll dig into the major theories and debates that shape the study of war in international relations. We’ll begin by looking at features of the international system and exploring when and why the system has been more or less war-prone. Then we’ll drill down to the domestic level, exploring whether certain types of countries are more or less likely to go to war. Midway through the semester, we’ll pivot and look at dyads, asking whether the qualities of pairs of states make them more or less likely to go to war. Finally, we’ll look at individual leaders, exploring the roles they play in war. As we move through each level, we’ll pair our readings with discussions of cases and current events asking ourselves whether and how well our theories help us explain and understand the world as we find it.