Gender, Conflict and War

Course Description: 


15:30 - 17:10Monday 05/Mar/2018 - 06/Mar/2018 dailyOctober 6th 7 / Room 201
15:30 - 19:00Wednesday 07/Mar/2018October 6th 7 / Room 201
15:30 - 17:10Monday 12/Mar/2018 - 19/Mar/2018 weeklyOctober 6th 7 / Room 201
17:20 - 19:00Monday 12/Mar/2018 - 19/Mar/2018 weeklyOctober 6th 7 / Room 201
15:30 - 17:10Wednesday 14/Mar/2018 - 21/Mar/2018 weeklyOctober 6th 7 / Room 201
17:20 - 19:00Wednesday 14/Mar/2018 - 21/Mar/2018 weeklyOctober 6th 7 / Room 201

Elective Course, Security Specialization/Concentration

Why are there still so few women serving in the world’s militaries?  What is militarized masculinity and what should public policy do about it? What are the opportunities and challenges posed by information technology for enhancing gender equality and addressing violence? Have there always been women fighters and soldiers? Are there effective policies for the post-conflict re-integration of women combatants? Is gender-based violence an inevitable consequence of war?

This course responds to the increasing demand for gender expertise and understanding related to peace and security. Those seeking a career in public policy, no matter what they work on or where, need to be prepared to respond to professional demands regarding gender. Practitioners and policy-makers are increasingly asked to consider the ways in which gender issues should affect the design and implementation of their programs, to evaluate impacts with a gender perspective, and to respond to questions and concerns related to gender discrimination and equality.

Students will come away from this course with a strong understanding of the interconnections between gender, violence, and conflict, but the objective of the course is deeper and broader.  By the course’s conclusion, students will have considered ways to address gender inequality, and prevent and respond to gender-based violence in policies and programs related to peace and security. This will include an analysis of the challenges, pitfalls, and complexities of doing so, especially in diverse ideological, political, religious, and cultural contexts.

Guest speakers will be joining the class to share their particular expertise on specific themes of the course; all of the guest speakers are actively engaged in research, advocacy and/or activism. These speakers offer students a unique opportunity to learn about policy engagement and future career paths in related fields.

The course will draw from a variety of materials, including academic articles, policy and program studies and reports, news articles and documentary films. Materials will be posted or linked to on the course website, where they can be downloaded or printed.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of this course, students will be able to: (1) to identify and discuss key gender issues related to peace and security; (2) critically analyze programmatic and policy responses to these issues; and (3) develop and present a briefing that offers specific recommendations related to a country’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

Students will acquire an overarching understanding of cutting edge issues related to gender, conflict and violence that are regularly covered in the media, such as women’s involvement in militant and terrorist groups, and gender based violence during peacekeeping operations. Through guest speakers, and case studies, students will also explore a wide range of policies and programs to implement the gender, peace and security agenda at grassroots, national and international levels.


Students will be responsible for one opinion piece, one group project and group presentation, and two response pieces to course readings. For the group presentation, the group will be expected to give an overview of the National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security for a specific country. Students are not expected to present a finished analysis, but instead to use the presentation to share their reflections on a country’s NAP, and solicit questions and feedback.  Sign-up sheet for the group project, with suggested countries, will be posted online by the instructor. (Groups can also feel free to contact me if they want to assess the NAP of an country that is not listed, in the interest of time only, I suggested some).

The opinion piece is worth 25%, group project 20%, group presentation 10%, response pieces are each worth 15%, and class attendance/participation 15%.   Attendance at all class sessions is mandatory.  Students will be expected to fully participate in classroom discussions and activities. Readings will be posted on the class website.

1. Opinion piece (25%), DUE FRIDAY MARCH 23: An 800-1,000-word opinion piece for a newspaper or online site (e.g. national newspaper, The Guardian, Politico, Huffington Post) dealing with one or more themes of the course. The op-ed should draw attention to a current issue and must make an explicit argument about a specific policy or program that is or is not working. Grading will be based on the quality of the writing, and the clarity of the argument. A handout for tips on writing an effective opinion will be provided but the best way to understand the style is to read opinion pieces in major publications.

2. Group project/policy brief (20%) and group presentation (10%), DUE FRIDAY MARCH 30: 2500 words, double spaced. Your group is tasked with preparing an analysis on a specific country’s National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security. This should include a summary of the NAP, and an analysis of its strengths and shortcomings, including with respect to how the country went about drafting its NAP (were there consultations with civil society groups and women’s rights organizations for example). Group presentations on NAPs will take place during our last class session (March 21).

3. Two response pieces (each worth 15%): For the response pieces, students will sign up for two sessions for which they will take a lead in class discussion. For each of these two sessions, students are expected to submit short response pieces (250- 500 words max) engaging at least two of the assigned readings, and raising one or two discussion questions. These are due by 12 noon by email for the class when they will be discussed. A sign up sheet will be available online.