The Social Transformation of War in the 21st Century

We are aware of missing faculty photos in the directory and catalog and will be updating them shortly. Thank you for your patience.

Fall 2016
Winter 2017
Credits per quarter

Compare offerings and share your lists with others.

Taught by

The nature and practice of warfare typically reflect the sociology, technologies, and strategies of power and resistance within societies of a particular era. Today social media, such as Twitter and YouTube, is employed as weapons of war by increasingly transnational networked actors who operate in a global environment and reflect the impact of information-age global society on the practice of war.

This program will examine the social transformations of warfare in the modern period, from the rise of industrial war to new forms of asymmetrical insurgencies and networked warfare we see today, and how this reflects major sociological transformations within global society. We will explore theorists like Clausewitz, Mao, Virilio, Hardt, and Negri, among others, and examine what their theories tell us about changing forms of social organization and strategies of power and resistance across the social field. We will examine key historical turning points in the evolution of war that include Napoleon’s industrialization of warfare in Europe in the early 19th century, Maoist “people's war” in the early 20th century, and the rise of “Fourth Generation” warfare today. We will look at topical case studies such as the proliferation of drones and surveillance technologies, information warfare, and cyber-warfare, as well as historical case studies such as the recent Iraq war, Zapatista social netwar in Mexico, and the rise of networked terror insurgencies such as al-Qaida and ISIS. In all these cases, we will examine how new forms of warfare mirror broader changes in global society, such as the emergence of networked communications technologies and late capitalist economic globalization. We will learn about how the changing nature of war serves as a vector of both power and resistance.

Primary learning goals include obtaining a thorough knowledge of the modern history of war and social transformation; developing an understanding of contending theories and strategic approaches to war and social change; understanding the diversity and strategies of guerrilla and insurgent groups and their adversaries; and developing an ability to engage in critical thinking, analytical writing, and informed opinions regarding these topics.

The program will be organized around a series of texts, exercises, films, and assignments, including class presentations, role plays, and several analytical papers. We will watch films and documentaries to supplement our learning, including The Battle of Algiers , Body of Lies,No Country for Old Men , and others. This program will demand a serious commitment by students to all of the work within the program and will focus on skill development in writing, analysis, and public speaking.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: international studies, political economy, and political science.

Online learning:
  • No Required Online Learning - No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

Advertised schedule:

First winter class meeting: Monday, January 9th at 12pm (Lib 1540)

2016-11-16This program will accept new winter enrollment with signature.