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Course 2023-2024 a.y.

30609 - TOPICS IN POLITICS

Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31

CLEAM (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - CLEF (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - CLEACC (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - BESS-CLES (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - WBB (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - BIEF (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - BIEM (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - BIG (6 credits - II sem. - OBS  |  SPS/04) - BEMACS (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - BAI (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SPS/04)
Course Director:
CAMILLA PAGANI

Classes: 31 (II sem.)
Instructors:
Class 31: CAMILLA PAGANI


Synchronous Blended: Lessons in synchronous mode in the classroom (for a maximum of one hour per credit in remote mode)

Suggested background knowledge

Module Prof. Pagani Basic knowledge of political theory, international relations and current events. Curiosity and critical thinking are welcome. Module Prof. Solaz Santos Familiarity with basic algebra and comfort with basic statistics would be helpful.


Mission & Content Summary
MISSION

This 48-hours course is divided in two different modules. It will focus on the concept of security applied to different sectors (human security, food security, migration, development, health, etc.) and randomized field experiments (RCTs) in politics. Module I Prof. Pagani - This preliminary module explores the concept of "security" by analysing it from a critical perspective and through contemporary case studies. The architecture of European security, human security, health security and food security will be examined with regard to warfare, migration, human rights, the pandemic, and climate change. Its main objective is to enable students to develop analytical and critical skills in the field of security studies. Module Prof. Solaz Santos - Randomized control trials (RCTs), randomized evaluations, rigorous evaluations, impact assessments are all a slightly complicated way of saying something really quite simple. Randomized evaluations to measure impact provide the most credible and reliable way to learn what works and what does not. Randomized evaluations use the same methods frequently used in high quality medical research and rely on the random assignment of a program or policy to measure its impact on those that received the program compared to those who did not. The mission of the course is to provide students with the knowledge and tools to design, conduct and analyse randomized field experiments (RCTs) in politics to evaluate theories, programmes and policies.

CONTENT SUMMARY

Module I Prof. Pagani - "Discussing Security across Sectors"

 

Security is a fundamental topic in international relations theories, but its meanings and uses are much broader and overlap with many other disciplines. This preliminary module intends to explore the concept of "security" by analysing it from a critical perspective and through contemporary case studies. The architecture of European security, human security, health security and food security will be examined with regard to warfare, migration, human rights, the pandemic, and climate change. The main objective of this module is to enable students to develop analytical and critical skills in the field of security studies.

 

SESSION 1, 2 - Origins of security: from ancient Greece to social contract theories

These introductory sessions will discuss the origins of 'security' in ancient Greece to the theories of social contract, by focusing on its relation to the individual and the state.

 

SESSION 3, 4 - Security and warfare: discussing security dilemmas from the Westphalian paradigm to the war in Ukraine

Security has been and is still used today as a political tool to justify war. From the Westphalian paradigm to the contemporary war in Ukraine, what are the meanings, the uses and the abuses of security?

Case study

The many challenges of European security after the war in Ukraine.

 

SESSION 5 - Security and/or liberty? Surveillance and biosecurity

From 9/11 the perception of insecurity caused by terrorism globally has led to illiberal practices of surveillance in both autocratic and liberal states. Technology and AI are increasingly used in order to control, screen and predict suspicious individuals. What is at stake is a loss of basic rights for the safeguard of the 'freedom to be secure'. What is the balance between security and liberty? How has security turned into biosecurity?

Case study

 - Analysis of French 'global security' law.

 

SESSION 6 - Security and development

This lecture will analyse the category of 'human security', investigating the link between security and development.

 

SESSION 7 - Food security and its political implications

Food security is a fundamental condition for states' political and economic stability. This session will examine food security with regard to international stakes and development.

 

SESSION 8 - The securitization theory explained

Within the post-Cold war framework the rise of human crises worldwide has called for a multidimensional and diversified interpretation of security outside its traditional military dimension. Over the last three decades the securitization theory has played a key role in analysing this phenomenon as a sub-field of critical security studies highlighting the temporal, relational and context-related dimensions of security.

 

SESSION 9 - The securitization of migration

This lecture will focus on the securitization of migration, through contemporary case studies in Europe, North America and Russia.

Case study

- Analysis of the The Belarus–Lithuania border

 

SESSION 10 - Health security: a new global order?

This lecture will focus on the securitization of health at national and international level in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Case study

- The Zero-Covid policy in China: stakes and impacts

 

SESSION 11 - The securitization of environment

This session applies the securitization theory to environment and climate change.

 

SESSION 12 - Concluding session

This concluding session will discuss and compare different schools of security studies.

 

 

Module Prof. Hector Solaz Santos

Randomized control trials (RCTs), randomized evaluations, rigorous evaluations, impact assessments are all a slightly complicated way of saying something really quite simple. If we want to know how effective a program is, we need to have a comparison group. Without a comparison, we are limited in our ability to know what would have happened without the program. And the only way of having an equitable comparison group is with random assignment. Randomized evaluations to measure impact provide the most credible and reliable way to learn what works and what does not. Randomized evaluations use the same methods frequently used in high quality medical research and rely on the random assignment of a program or policy to measure its impact on those that received the program compared to those who did not. The mission of the course is to provide students with the knowledge and tools to design, conduct and analyse randomized field experiments (RCTs) in politics to evaluate theories, programmes and policies.

 

 

This course will introduce students to the design, conduct and analysis of randomized field experiments (RCTs) in politics to evaluate theories, programmes and policies. The course will cover the science and methods of experimentation, debate practical challenges of field experimentation, and the ethics of field experiments, and examine the findings of experimental research in several distinct political domains. Specifically:

 

Intro

 

Potential Outcomes

 

Statistical Foundations

 

Designing and Executing Field Experiments

 

Experimental Ethics


 

Social Networks


 

Social Contact and Prejudice Reduction

 

Gender and Politics


 

Migration


 

Presentations


 

Presentations

 

Please always check for changes/rescheduling on your Agenda


Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
At the end of the course student will be able to...

Module prof. Pagani


  • Become familiar with the concept of "security" and the discipline of security studies from a theoretical and critical perspective;
  • Identify the main theoretical and practical fields to which security can be applied;
  • Analyse academic articles from journals of political theory and international relations as well as policy briefs and international reports with regard to the topic of security;
  • Evaluate and compare different theories and case studies within the field of security.

 

Module Prof. Solaz Santos

  • Define the fundamental principles and practice of RCTs 

  • Describe the critical issues involved in planning, conducting and completing a 
successful RCT 

  • Understand the basic statistics used to plan and analyse RCTs 

  • Understand the importance of Research Integrity, Transparency, and Reproducibility 

APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
At the end of the course student will be able to...

Module prof. Pagani


  • Develop analytical written communication skills in the field of security studies;
  • Present and discuss a case study in the field of security studies both in-group and individually through in-class presentations;

 

Module prof. Solaz Santos

  • Design a Randomized Evaluation 

  • Collect and manage experimental data 

  • Structure the analytic and thinking process for public policy evaluation. 


Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Group assignments
DETAILS

Students are expected to actively participate in class debates and share their views with their peers.

They will be requested to read all materials in advance and to prepare a written question ahead of each oral in-class presentation.


Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •     x
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  • x    
  • Active class participation (virtual, attendance)
  • x    
    ATTENDING STUDENTS

    Module prof. Pagani

    • With the purpose of measuring the acquisition of the above-mentioned learning outcomes, the students’ assessment is based on two main components: 

      • Active participation to class debates (10% of the final grade)
      • An in-class presentation (30% of the final grade) aimed to asses the students’ skills to present and discuss a case study or an article related to the topic of security
      • A written exam (60% of the final grade) aimed to test the students’ ability to critically analyse a topic of the course, on the basis of all sessions and reading materials.

     

    Module prof. Solaz Santos

    • With the purpose of measuring the acquisition of the above-mentioned learning outcomes, the students’ assessment is based on two main components: 

      • A group assignment (80% of the final grade) aimed to test the students’ ability to design and conduct randomized control trials for policy evaluation. 

      • An in-class presentation (20% of the final grade) aimed to asses the students’ skills to present their thinking and deliberation process when designing public policy evaluations. 

    NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS

    Module prof. Pagani

     

    Students’ assessment is based on an oral exam (100%). The oral exam consists of a series of open questions aimed to assess students’ ability to present and discuss the fundamental principles and theories of security as studied during the term.

    Module prof. Solaz Santos

    Students’ assessment is based on a written exam (100%). The written exam consists of a series of multiple choice questions aimed to assess students’ ability to apply the fundamental principles and practice of RCTs illustrated during the course, to Describe the critical issues involved in planning, conducting and completing a successful RCT as well as to test the student’s understanding of the basic statistics used to plan and run randomized control trials.

     


    Teaching materials
    ATTENDING AND NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS

    All reading materials will be indicated in the syllabus which will be published at the beginning of the first semester.

    Last change 19/07/2023 10:31