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Fall 2013 - 63557 - PA388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Complex Emergencies

Instructor(s): Newberg, Paula
Unique Number: 63557
Day & Time: M 3:30 pm -6:30 pm
Room: PAR 305
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

Topics for these policy seminars have included environmental and natural resources policy, health-service delivery policy, social welfare policy, transportation policy, science and technology policy, international affairs, national security, urban and regional growth policy, and political campaigns.


Section Description

The international community’s understanding of complex political and humanitarian emergencies has evolved over the past decade to include a number of intersecting elements of protracted conflicts:  structural (internal and/or cross border) violence, displaced populations, weak political and social institutions, fragile economies and challenging development environments, pervasive insecurity, and in a number of instances, natural disasters that reflect and/or exacerbate these conditions. The term “complex emergencies” is now used to describe these conflicts as well as provide templates for responding to them, locally and internationally.  As our readings for this course will make clear, this is a concept, and a group of practices, that has yet to take a final form.  The topic of this seminar is a problem / problematic:  what are complex emergencies and what can we learn about governance, politics and international affairs from studying them?

We will dissect the many changing meanings, iterations and dimensions of complex emergencies, focusing on the conditions that create and typify such emergencies, with special attention to the political environments in which they arise and continue; and the political and economic challenges and constraints that color responses to various kinds of complex emergencies.  The former include several cross cutting issues:  crises of humanitarianism; problems of migration; displacement and citizenship; justice, rights and war crimes; and seemingly frozen political disputes; and the problem of emergency powers in transitional governance environments.  The latter will include questions of trusteeship and political successions; problems of statelessness and contested borders; the contexts for international assistance and crisis response; and more generally, complicated politics of relief, development, and in some instances, transitions toward peace.  

Our examination of complex emergencies will use modern south Asia (with forays into neighboring areas in central Asia, southeast and southwest Asia and elsewhere) as the canvas for these explorations, although readings will be taken from across the globe. Over the course of the semester, we will pair our investigations of specific geographic cases with issues that affect the entire region(s). Prior knowledge of the region is not required.  

Students will be expected to participate in all class sessions, lead discussions of weekly readings, writing one short and one long paper for the seminar, and leading a discussion of their paper(s).

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