Washington Center

International Relations & Contemporary Civil War

Day and Time: 
Thursdays, 10:00am - 1:00pm
Quarter Dates: 
September 21 - November 30, 2023
Semester Dates: 
August 23 - November 30, 2023
Core Seminar

Civil wars, and wars that begin as some sort of civil war, are by far the most common and destructive form of organized political violence in the modern world. However, studies of these wars only reached substantial numbers in the wake of the Cold War. Before that, scholars of comparative politics tended not to study war and scholars of international relations (IR) tended not to study violence contained in a single country. In this course, we examine the problem of civil war from the bottom-up, asking if this relatively new scholarship in civil war is doing a good job predicting, explaining, preventing or limiting civil wars. We ask, “What’s so civil about war, Anyway?” And do the answers to that question mean that IR scholars will have to rethink or change their tried and true models of why we fight, and what will make peace?

In this course, we will take great advantage of our location in the seat of American power to chat with scholars, decision-makers, military officials, those working at NGOs and Activists. We will hear straight from those making and shaping American foreign policy decisions, as well as those from embattled countries, to get the clearest view, in all its complexity, of modern civil war.


About the Professor: Bridget L. Coggins is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research interests lie at the intersection of domestic conflict and international relations, including studies of secessionism, rebel diplomacy, civil war and terrorism, maritime piracy, illicit trafficking, and refugees. Coggins' first book is Power Politics and State Formation in the 20th Century: The Dynamics of Recognition (Cambridge 2014). Her second major project examines the international security consequences of state failure, combining large N data and detailed case studies of Somalia, North Korea, Colombia, and Afghanistan. Coggins scholarly work appears in Foreign Policy Magazine, International Organization, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Global Security Studies, Journal of Peace Research, and at various university presses. She speaks Spanish, Mandarin, and a bit of Korean, and taught previously at Dartmouth College.

Requirement for ALL semester students:

The first four weeks of this semester (August 23 to September 13) will be spent in a special topics module taught by Professor Marc Sandalow on Wednesdays from 6:30-9:30p.m. This module will account for 15% of the core seminar final course grade. Please contact Professor Sandalow (marc.sandalow@ucdc.edu) with questions.

Your selected seminar will begin the week of September 18 and your seminar instructor will officially be your instructor of record for the term, responsible for computing and submitting final course grades at the end of the term.

**NO additional registration required.


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