Course Syllabus


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Semester &  Location:

Spring 2023 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Study Tours:

Gothenburg, Sweden

Riga, Latvia and Vilnius, Lithuania

Major Disciplines:

International Relations, Political Science  

Pre-requisite: One international relations or political science course at university level
Faculty Members:

Steve Turner  

 (current students please use the Canvas Inbox)

Program Director: Neringa Vendelbo, 
Academic support: 
Time & Place:

Monday/Thursday, 8:30-9:50, 1D-410


Course Description

The field of Security Studies has changed dramatically over the last 30 years. Following the devastation of WWII and the emergence of the Cold War, the concept of security was focused primarily on the prevention of armed conflict among rival states. But the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 - and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union - led many observers to believe that the traditional focus on“hard” military power was no longer of central importance.  Widespread optimism about “the end of history” foresaw a world in which the triumph of liberal democratic capitalism would ensure both global peace and prosperity. 

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has shattered liberal illusions about “the end of history.” The brutal return of large scale warfare has sent shock waves through Western nations and triggered a heated debate among security experts. This course is designed to get to the core of this debate. Three questions are paramount:

  1. How are we to best understand the causes of the conflict?
  2. What are the appropriate policy responses to the invasion?
  3. What are likely to be the most important consequences of the war?

We will address these questions by applying the grand theoretical models of " Liberalism” and “Realism”.  We will focus our attention on how the war is likely to affect the security of Sweden, the Baltic countries, the European Union, and the USA.

Learning Objectives

This course has three major objectives:

  • To help you develop a solid understanding of how different theoretical perspectives define both the security challenge itself and shape the parameters of the appropriate policy response.
  • To encourage you to think very carefully about the growing challenges to an extraordinary – and historically unique - degree of security that has been achieved in Western societies over the past 75 years.
  • To assist you in the development of essential skills – in analytical thinking and in both oral and written presentation - that are vital not only in navigating security studies, but in flourishing in the game of life.



Steve Turner

DIS Stockholm Faculty

M.A. in Political Sociology, Harvard University. Extensive teaching experience in comparative politics, globalization, the welfare state, and multiculturalism. Works as a Leadership Consultant, bringing the lessons from modern psychology and neuroscience to the world of business. Also an avid squash player and kayaker. With DIS since 2016.



The course is based primarily on two books which represent the case for - and against - "interventionist liberalism."

The Jungle Grows Back: America and our Imperlled World.  2021. Robert Kagan

The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities. 2018. John Mersheimer.

Supplementary Reading:

Fukuyama, Francis. 1989. "The End of History?"

Huntington, Samuel (1993) "The Clash of Civilizations?" Foreign Affairs (p.22-49)

Mearsheimer, John J and Walt, Stephen M. (2016) The Case for Offshore Balancing: A Superior US Grand Strategy. (p.70-83) Foreign Affairs

Stratfor. (2009) The Geopolitics of Sweden: A Baltic Power Reborn. (6 pages)

Walt, Stephen (2016) The Collapse of the Liberal World Order Foreign Policy (p.1-10)

Walt, Stephen (2016) What Would a Realist World Have Looked Like? Foreign Policy (p.1-8)


Field Studies

Field Study 1: Wednesday, January 18  TBA

Field Study 2: Wednesday, February 22  TBA


Guest Lecturers

- We will meet with Swedish military and security experts on one or two occasions. 


Approach to Teaching & Expectation of the Students

My approach to teaching is based on a core assumption: Learning is a collective endeavour in which the contribution of each individual has an impact on how much is learned overall. Lectures can serve a valuable purpose both in providing useful information and in stimulating creative thought. But genuine learning takes place only when the student takes an active role –in reading carefully, thinking critically, in raising questions and objections, and in listening to others. It is only through engaged dialogue that we have the capacity to enrich our understanding of the world. My expectation is that students will actively engage in the learning process, both inside and outside the classroom.   

The course utilizes a variety of pedagogical methods, including lectures, discussions, student presentations, policy simulations, and study visits. There is a strong emphasis on discussion and student participation. Everyone is expected to not only complete the readings for each class, but to come to class well prepared to engage in discussion.

Attendance at all lectures and field studies is mandatory.

Note that it is important to check your e-mail and DIS Canvas regularly since outlines, exam info etc. will be distributed here.

A Word on Laptops in the Classroom

The default policy for this class is NO laptops in the classroom.  Both academic research and personal experience have shown laptops to be an enormous source of distraction and an impediment to engaged discussion as well as learning. Thank you for your understanding. 


Attendance/Active Participation:

Your participation grade reflects the importance of being active in this course, which relies in great part on the reflections, discussions, and exercises in class.

Attending class earns a grade of 85; Raising questions and engaging in discussions earns additional points

Pre-class Prep:

Prior to many class sessions, you will complete a short Canvas quiz based on the readings and concepts addressed in class. 

Mid-term Take Home Exam:

There will be a take-home exam covering the theories and concepts that have been discussed so far in the course.

Final Take-home Exam:

There is a final take home exam that deals with issues addressed in the second half of the course. 

 To be eligible for a passing grade in this class you must complete all the assigned work.

More information on the assignments, requirements and deadlines will be available on DIS Canvas.

Class Representatives

Class representatives will be elected at the beginning of the semester. Communicate your feedback on the course to the two representatives. See DIS Canvas if you are unsure who they are. 




Attendance/Active Participation *


Pre-class Prep (Canvas "quizzes")

Take Home Exam 1 


 Final In-class Exam (Short answer essay exam)  



Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 

 DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Course Summary:

Date Details Due