Paradoxes of War (Coursera)

Paradoxes of War (Coursera)
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Paradoxes of War (Coursera)
The Paradoxes of War teaches us to understand that war is not only a normal part of human existence, but is arguably one of the most important factors in making us who we are. Through this course, I hope that you will come to appreciate that war is both a natural expression of common human emotions and interactions and a constitutive part of how we cohere as groups. That is, war is paradoxically an expression of our basest animal nature and the exemplar of our most vaunted and valued civilized virtues.

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You will learn some basic military history and sociology in this course as a lens for the more important purpose of seeing the broader social themes and issues related to war. I want you to both learn about war, but more importantly, use it as way of understanding your everyday social world. So, for example, the discussion of war and gender will serve to start you thinking about how expectations of masculinity are created and our discussion of nationalism will make clear how easy “us-them” dichotomies can be established and (ab)used. I will suggest some readings for you to complement the class and assign some activities through which you will be able to apply the theoretical insights from the course to your observations of everyday life. At the end of the course, you will start to see war everywhere and come to appreciate how much it defines our life.


Syllabus


WEEK 1

Introduction/Welcome

The basic paradoxes of war: how it builds and destroys, produces love and hate are discussed. Outline of course and general expectations.


WEEK 2

The Nature of War

War is a product of both “natural” instincts and a social creation involving the imposition of organization and authority structures.


WEEK 3

The Causes of War

Causes of war may be described as material, cultural, and psychological. At the heart of war is the product of us-them dynamics.


WEEK 4

The Experience of War

In order to understand the social creation of war we need to appreciate that this is an activity VERY few would engage in with control or inducement.


WEEK 5

Making Warriors

Warriors are taught a set of values of which duty and honor are fundamental. These are taught through the imposition of discipline.


WEEK 6

The War of Armies

Wars are about organized violence and this part of the course traces the managerial and technological developments necessary to culminate in total wars.


WEEK 7

The Progress of Battle

Historical overview of battle formations from phalanx to gunpowder revolution to industrialized war.


WEEK 8

The War of Societies

Wars can also be about societal survival and we look at three examples: conquest, genocide, and strategic bombing.


WEEK 9

Social Aspects of War: Nation State and Nationalism

Wars help build states and nationalism


WEEK 10

Social Aspects of War: Democracy, Citizenship, and Social Equality

Wars also develop citizenship and democratic demands


WEEK 11

The Rise of the Rest

While the West was dominant for 500 years, beginning in 1945 new forms of war have challenged the technological and organizational supremacy of old empires.


WEEK 12

New Challenges

Wars are not fought as they were yet militaries are still organized anachronistically.


WEEK 13

Final Lecture

Summary of the class.



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Free Course

MOOC List is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.