Transformation of war - characteristics of contemporary armed conflicts

  • Course description

    The aim of this course is to offer the students possibility to learn and understand the specificity and main characteristic s of contemporary armed conflicts. During the course main theories concerning the sources for military conflicts, their geographical distribution and factors decisive for conflicts’ characteristics will be discussed. The students will familiarize themselves also with the main evolutionary trends in contemporary armed conflicts, like the Revolution in Military affairs and its implications, privatisation of violence (incl. growth in private security/military services), the role and impact of the media on conflicts’ conduct and forms. They will also have an opportunity to discuss the (near) future trends in warfare, particularly those related to technological progress (advancement in robotics, cybernetics and biotechnologies).
  • Main themes

    • Armed conflicts
    • Traditional (Clausewitzian) vision of armed conflicts
    • Theories on evolution of conflicts in macro scale
    • Economic and ecological factors
    • Theoretical reflection on the conduct and forms of contemporary armed conflicts – “new war” theories
    • Theoretical reflection on the conduct and forms of risk-transfer war, “war amongst the people”
    • Technology and war – RMA and its implications
    • Problem of asymmetry in contemporary conflicts
    • Privatisation of violence
    • New means of destruction and warfare – cyberwarfare, robots and biotechnologies
    • Mass media and conflicts
  • Learning outcomes

    At the end of the course, the student:

    • Has highly specialised knowledge and a critical understanding of theoretical concepts and theories concerning contemporary armed conflict.

    • Has a critical understanding of personal security risks in humanitarian fieldwork, as well as opportunities and threats of current trends within organised violence.

    • Has highly specialised knowledge of the diversity of actors and stakeholders, their interaction and competition in contemporary armed conflicts.

    • Has a thorough knowledge of the operational processes and changes in the political and military structures in the international dimension and a critical understanding of the social, legal and security environment in conflict situations
    • Has specialised skills to conceptualise, interpret and critically analyse contemporary armed conflicts, including humanitarian interventions.

    • Has the ability to interpret and critically analyse data, information and experience concerning a certain armed conflict or military intervention in order to develop a contextual understanding of the geographical workfield, the community, perspectives, policies, issues and possible solutions.

    • Has the ability to formulate independent views, support them with elaborate arguments, using a broad range of approaches and theoretical perspectives, formulate coherent conclusions and make a synthetic summary of these conclusions, using a specialized language of conflict and conflict resolution studies, on topics related to contemporary armed conflicts and their humanitarian aspects.
    • Has demonstrated the ability to position one's own research findings in the broader context of conflict studies. Has developed an open attitude towards acquiring new knowledge and understanding about professional and academic developments in conflict studies.

    • Learns from past experiences, identifies opportunities to overcome humanitarian dilemmas and proposes new work methods for increased efficiency, effectiveness and stakeholder accountability in complex and unpredictable humanitarian environments during armed conflicts.
  • Teaching and learning methodology

    Lecture in classroom, discussion, powerpoint presentations. Optionally (if case of students’ interest and request) students’ public presentations as well as written short analyses on selected topics.
  • Assessment methods and criteria

    Written exam (mixed form: multiple answers-type question, semi-open question – one-sentence answers; open question – one of the three to be chosen by student) 80%.
    Activeness during classes 20%.
    85% of points - grade 5
    75% of points - grade 4,5
    65% of points – grade 4
    55% of points – grade 3,5
    Over 45% of points – grade 3

Last updated: 21 May 2018

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