POL 237

Modern Weapons and International Relations
CRN: 24005

Use CRN: 24005 to register for the course at myPurdue website.

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Course At A Glance

8 weeks, June 13 - August 2, 2016

Schedule Type: Distance Learning

Instructional Method: Online
(This section is delivered 100% online)

Format: The course is entirely online, and so you can do this course anywhere that you can get access to a reliable internet connection, and you do not have to come to campus at all.

Assessments: The course assignments have deadlines, but you do not have to be at your computer at specific times.

Course Instructor

Dr. Mark Petersen

Dr. Mark Petersen

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About the Course

In contemporary life, it is often the case that military and civilian life exist in very separate spheres. Unless you or people close to you are involved in some way in national defense, you might have little reason to seriously consider the impact of military affairs on your daily life. This course takes seriously the idea that international military affairs do not exist in a vacuum, but rather play an important role in human political, social, and cultural life. In turn, these political, social, and cultural arrangements affect military affairs. Over eight weeks, we explore how military affairs, technology, and politics are inexorably linked and how this has a very real influence on national and international affairs. To do this, the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) concept is utilized. Turning to history, the course explores how revolutions in the past have brought about change, and how these changes have culminated in some way in what modern society has become. By the semester's end, students will understand how, from the introduction of gunpowder to air power and to modern weapons of mass destruction, the development of human societies cannot be disentangled from military affairs. This course fulfills the Science, Technology & Society Core Curriculum Requirement.

Course Goals

Upon the completion of this course, students should be conversant on the following subjects:

  1. How the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) concept is related to change in historic political   and social systems.
  2. How technological developments play an integral role in this process.
  3. How nuclear weapons could potentially be a force for peace in the contemporary world.
  4. How future changes in politics, society, and military affairs might occur given past precedent.

Learning Resources

There are two required texts for this course. Please see the links below if you are interested in purchasing a hard copy or a kindle copy online. Purdue's traditional bookstores also carry copies of the books.

Links Textbooks
View in Amazon.com Boot, M. (2006). War made new: technology, warfare, and the course of history, 1500 to today. Penguin.
View in Amazon.com Waltz, K., & Sagan, S. D. (2003). The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed (pp. 3-45). New York: WW Norton.

Sample Assignment

One major component of the class is understanding how military affairs and technology impact political and social life. To this end, we explore how changes in one area might bring about changes in another. The week we cover the revolution in air power is an example of this. Once war took to the skies, some argue there was a shift in how civilian populations thought about war. Students read on the subject, listen to a short lesson, and then are required to respond to see if they understand the arguments and ask further questions through the journaling process. A sample homework assignment, requiring students to respond to a prompt in roughly two pages of writing, addresses this.

Sample Question:

"Describe the Air Power Revolution. What larger effects has it had on military and non-military affairs? This revolution has spawned a debate over how wars might be conducted in the future, namely that they might be conducted entirely from the air. Was that realistic at the time of the revolution? Is it realistic now? Does the advent of the spread of democracy, which coincided with the rise of air power, play a role in this equation?"