SEST-706 International Communications: Building and Destroying Networks for National Security
Spring for 2017-2018
This course will examine the field of international communication as it pertains to current national security issues, with a special focus on connecting theory with practice. Traditionally, the U.S. government has used foreign public engagement and information activities to build global networks to advance U.S. foreign policy short and long-term goals. Yet the U.S. government currently finds itself working to influence foreign citizens within a complex and unprecedented intersection of technological expediency, conflicting identity issues in rapidly changing environments, and simultaneous ideological and ground wars. State and non-state actors alike are increasingly weaponizing information to support their aggressive objectives, Da’esh and the Kremlin being just two examples. The White House, State Department, Defense Department, and Congress continue to grapple with the best approach to counter poisonous narratives and delegitimize disinformation that can undermine U.S. national security.
Students will examine a diverse range of scholarship on the intersection of international politics, communication, technology, and culture. The course will bring together international relations theory with communications theory, looking acutely at social constructivism, networks, international news production, digital media mapping and politics, globalization, nationalism and public diplomacy. It will also highlight the most recent policy and white papers on countering violent extremism, countering negative Russian influence, public diplomacy, and the state of the global news media. Each class will connect theory with current events relating to national security issues. Depending on the topic and class time, a guest speaker working on the frontlines of the issues covered in class will be able to also share their experiences, illustrating for students the relevancy of various literature and theories. Finally, through papers and a group project, the course will challenge students to think strategically about how to effectively use various forms of communication to help support various national security objectives.
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