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Senior Capstones

US Foreign Policy student Steven Rocker presents at the US Foreign Policy Capstone Research Conference

Steven Rocker presents his research at the U.S. Foreign Policy Capstone Research Conference.

The Senior Capstone course is specifically designed to provide the summative academic experience for our undergraduate students. Capstone courses are topical; they are not specifically linked to any one thematic area. A Senior Capstone class is integrative, while also giving students the opportunity to work on a summative project of their own. Capstone projects enable students to integrate their previous coursework and demonstrate the skills and competencies they have gained during their time with us. For some students this may be a research paper; for others, a documentary film; for still others, a piece of international service on which they reflect in a systematic way.

Fall 2017 Senior Capstones

Newly Added Course

SISU-419-024 Strategies of Rebellion
Wednesday 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Prof. Megan Stewart

How do rebels contest sovereignty? The ultimate aim of this course is to explore both the non-violent and violent strategies insurgencies deploy during the course of civil wars, to bring academic theories into dialogue with empirical realities, to develop a broader understanding of the behaviors of insurgencies, and to apply these theories to contemporary political phenomena. The course will provide an overview of what civil wars are, what causes them, and who the primary actors are in domestic conflict; the course will review how rebel groups are structured and how they recruit members; the course will examine what drives insurgencies to adopt different violent strategies and tactics, and which are successful; the course will conclude by discussing rebel non-violent strategies of rebellion and the effectiveness thereof. This class will also have a strong empirical component and cover several cases in (primarily) the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia. Students will also be expected to follow one insurgency intensively throughout the class, applying the works discussed in class to their case.



SISU-419-001 Voices of Terrorism
Monday 11:20 AM - 2:10 PM
Prof. Joseph Young

This course is unique in that, while most college seminars on terrorism examine secondary sources or information that is filtered through a traditional security lens, this class asks students to evaluate terrorist actions and goals through the participant's own words. That is, students will examine prominent contemporary and historical terror campaigns through the lens of the people involved. The course will incorporate insights from psychology, political science, economics, history, and other disciplines. We will also examine questions related to the reliability of sources, moral issues, and how these works fit into larger themes in their particular historical periods. We will begin by outlining various ways scholars explain the question of why activists target civilians when attempting to coerce a state. Rationalists (political scientists and economists primarily), psychologists, and sociologists (and criminologists) have the most prominent explanations for this question. We will compare and contrast these arguments, and then apply them to a host of groups and individuals who use terrorism.

SISU-419-003 The Environment and Political Conflict
Wednesday 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Prof. Stephen Cook

With all the emphasis on politics, economics, history, and security often lost in the analysis is how the physical world contributes to or mitigates conflict. Global climate change only add to the urgency of how the environment, natural resources, and geography influences politics. The course will examine environmental factors related to a diverse array of political phenomena including the Arab uprisings, the anti-Federal government movement in the American West, popular protests in South America, migration from Africa to Europe, and a growing opposition to the Chinese Communist Party.

SISU-419-005 Inclusive Sustainable Development: 2030
Monday 11:20 AM - 2:10 PM
Prof. Derrick Cogburn

This capstone seminar explores the background, strategies, and mechanisms for achieving the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015. It reviews the development of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets, as well as evaluating the successes and failures of its predecessor Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Students investigate a range of key issues related to the Agenda for Sustainable Development.

SISU-419-006 Security Issues in the 21st Century
Thursday 11:20 AM - 2:10 PM
Prof. Claire Metelits

This course challenges students to view security from a critical point of view. Topics covered will look at issues such as environmental and health security, gender rights, the war on terror, identity politics and border politics, as well as nontraditional frameworks by which to analyze these issues such as critical theory and post-colonialism. While some of this class draws on cases from the African continent, students are welcome and encouraged to bring their own regional areas of interest into discussion and writing. The aim of these perspectives is to destabilize taken-for-granted ideas and views on security in order to cultivate alternative thinking and practice.

SISU-419-008 Comparative Social Movements
Thursday 11:20 AM - 2:10 PM
Prof. Cathy Schneider

This course examines a broad range of civil rights, revolutionary, and pro-democracy movements in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and the United States. Students develop a comprehensive theory about social movements in order to classify them and develop predictive models about their emergence, shape, and outcome. As a part of this course, students will engage with a nonprofit agency or school in the D.C. area to apply their course knowledge.

SISU-419-012 Negotiating Israeli-Palestinian Peace
Monday 2:30 PM - 5:20 PM
Prof. Guy Ziv

This senior capstone provides students with a deeper understanding of the problems that have confounded the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, in particular the "final status" issues: borders, Jerusalem, refugees, and security. Students focus on the contested narratives; the relevant political actors; and the key international, regional, and internal events that have shaped the dispute. As well, previous rounds of negotiations are reviewed in order to analyze what went wrong. Students then partake in a simulation in which they attempt to constructively address the final status issues as well as other sticking points, such as settlements and terrorism, in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

SISU-419-014 Asian Identities in Multicultural America: Challenges of Migration and Integration
Thursday 2:30 PM - 5:20 PM
Prof. Maina Singh

This course explores the social and political struggles of the over 18million Asian Americans (from China, Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, India and Pakistan) who despite being the fastest-growing racial group in the US continue to face serious issues of integration and cultural 'Othering'. This Capstone course combines academic work with hands-on CBL ( community-based learning). Students will engage with a designated Asian community-based organization in DMV for 4 weeks during this course. As a part of this course, students will engage with a nonprofit agency or school in the D.C. area to apply their course knowledge.

SISU-419-016 Peace and Social Justice
Wednesday 11:20 AM - 2:10 PM
Prof. Colman McCarthy

This course offers a study of the methods, history, and practitioners of nonviolence and the efforts to create a justice-based society. The course familiarizes students with both the philosophy of pacifism and alternatives to violence, whether among nations or among individuals faced with violence in their daily lives. This course is discussion-based, with dissent welcomed.

SISU-419-017 From Empire to Globalization: Critical International Relations
Monday 2:30 PM - 5:20 PM
Prof. Randolph Persaud

What should critical international relations (IR) look like, what kinds of questions should it ask, and what kinds of changes does it envisage? These are central questions that are being asked from a number of different perspectives in the field. This course closely examines these issues in the context of hegemony and resistance, with added focus on global capitalism, empire, race, and postcolonialism and emphasis on historical and discourse analysis.

SISU-419-018 Critical Social Theory
Wednesday 2:30 PM - 5:20 PM
Prof. Erin Collins

In this class we read key primary texts that theorize race, class, gender, sexuality and power. We will read works of Marx, Foucault, Butler and Said among others. Students will gain facility with difficult conceptual material and evaluate the relevance of these ideas for contemporary social issues.

SISU-419-020 The United States and International Human Rights
Monday 2:30 PM - 5:20 PM
Prof. Sarah Snyder

Since 1941, United States attention to human rights abuses has risen and waned. Students explore how concern for human rights has influenced United States foreign policy and raise questions about the consistency and durability of that commitment throughout the Cold War and in the years that followed the Soviet Union's collapse. The course concludes with an examination of contemporary struggles to balance morality and adherence to "American values" with the preservation of national security. The assigned readings and class discussion help students define human rights and assess the American commitment to protect those rights. Students consider how the geopolitical struggle of the Cold War and domestic politics shaped American concern for human rights internationally and examine the challenges of combating terrorism and respecting human rights today. To this end, students read important accounts by historians, political scientists, journalists, and human rights activists. The objectives of this course are to promote critical, analytical thinking about United States human rights policy and to encourage students to develop their own interpretation of the evolution and significance of the American commitment to human rights in the postwar years.