Syllabus “Strategic Weapons and Arms Control”

in on March 23, 2023

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This is a syllabus for a college course intended to provide students with a basic understanding of the theoretical issues surrounding nuclear weapons, their historical development, and the impact they have had historically on global politics and current policy debates. The course examines conceptual foundations, organizational structures and functions, decision-making processes, and priority issues in military strategies with a special focus on the role of strategic weapons in the nuclear age.

In the course, students are exposed to the science and technology behind the weapons, and the histories of the existing nine nuclear weapons states, and will build on the technical and case knowledge to explore critical issues of nuclear strategy. Topics include, but are not limited to, deterrence, compellence, nuclear use and non-use, and nuclear strategy. A significant amount of attention will also be paid to the theoretical debates, policy concerns, and historical evidence regarding the causes and consequences of nuclear proliferation. A significant amount of the course readings are drawn from both scholars and practitioners of international security and nuclear strategy. This course is suitable for students with a general background in international affairs and some familiarity with military strategy and should be of interest to students seeking to improve their understanding of nuclear security and arms control, and of particular utility to students considering careers in national and international security. The course is conducted as part lecture and part interactive undergraduate seminar.

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Minimum Number of Participants 10
Maximum Number of Participants 35
Group or Individual Groups, Individuals
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Total activity time 16 weeks
Divisible Explanation
Learning Objectives
  • Develop a basic understanding of the science and technology underlying nuclear weapons
  • Integrate the theory and practice of nuclear weapons and nuclear strategy by examining historical debates and current policy arenas
  • Encourage critical thinking about contemporary policy debates, including the ability to analyze key issues in U.S. nuclear policy and strategy and offer practical solutions
  • Improve professional skills including critical thinking, clear and effective oral presentation, the use of simulations, and oral and written argumentation

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