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This is a course about the “long shadow” nuclear weapons cast over the international system. In its simplest terms, the class focuses on whether international politics still works essentially the same way in the nuclear age as it did prior to 1945 or if the world has truly experienced a nuclear “revolution” in the word’s most basic sense. The course begins with an examination of the key events and theories that led ultimately to the development of the world’s first nuclear weapons, including some basic technical concepts and the Manhattan Project. From there, the course covers a number of topics, both conceptual and historical, that bear directly on the question of how nuclear weapons shape international politics. Specifically, the course will cover the U.S. decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the Japanese response; the body of theory and concepts that underpin fundamental debates over nuclear strategy; the U.S.-Soviet nuclear rivalry; the influence of nuclear weapons in crises; how nuclear weapons shape alliance politics; whether nuclear weapons have political utility; nuclear accidents; nuclear technologies; the problem of nuclear proliferation and the nonproliferation regime; the importance of regional nuclear powers; and contemporary issues like the North Korean and Iranian nuclear questions.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
class participation, two 2- to 3-page response papers, a 20- to 25-page research paper
Political Science major seniors with an International Relations concentration
PSCI International Relations Courses