Fall 2021 - POL 348 D100

Theories of War, Peace and Conflict Resolution (4)

Class Number: 4258

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We 3:30 PM – 4:50 PM
    RCB 7100, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 14, 2021
    12:00 PM – 12:00 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    POL 141 and three lower division units in political science or permission of the department.



Examines the origins and causes of several major conflicts during the last century. This course reviews various theories on the causes of conflict and war in the international system. It also examines the techniques of preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping, crisis management and coercive diplomacy as they have been used to try to forestall open warfare and maximize the opportunities for peaceful change and the negotiated resolution of international disputes. Both documentary and feature films will be used to illustrate many types of conflict and warfare in the international system. Course simulations, when employed, will concentrate on the problems and risks that are involved in international efforts to contain and reverse the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


Course Description

In this course we will learn about theories of war, peace and conflict resolution through a broad exploration of the field of nation-building and war since the end of the Cold War.

Most contemporary wars are internal wars (e.g., civil wars, ethnic conflicts) that frequently involve a third-party (e.g., United Nations, NATO, EU) which brings about the end to conflict, imposes peacebuilding, and engages in nation(state)-building to bring about conflict resolution through changing the structural conditions that precipitated the conflict in the first place.

This course will examine the most frequent causes of war (since 1990) and the processes that produce new states or reconstruct existing ones under the auspices of the international community in regions as different as Africa, Asia, and Europe. The course is organized around three modules and seeks to address several major questions: (1) Stimuli (Causes) – What leads nations to engage in nation-building abroad? Why spend money, blood, and prestige? (2) Action – What does international community do to promote nation-building? Military intervention? State-Building? Political processes? and (3) Consequences – What does success look like? A new country that is a democracy? Economically wealthy? Peaceful but under authoritarian rule? Every stage of nation-building involves humanitarian, security, economic and ethical dilemmas. We will identify, analyze, and discuss such dilemmas with respect to what they mean for the country that is being built, peacebuilding, and what it implies for the nation-builders.


  • Policy Memo 20%
  • Mid-term Exam 20%
  • Final Exam 30%
  • Discussions 20%
  • Short Writing Assignments 10%



Various book chapters and policy papers will be uploaded to Canvas or placed in library reserve.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.