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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2017-18

GOVT 85.24 National Security Policy and Decision Making

This course will afford students the opportunity to experience the process of national security policy-making through role-play and intensive interaction mediated by faculty and visitors with extensive White House experience and direct involvement in significant strategic decisions.

The course will consist of two parts:  The first introduces the students to the national security decision-making process that was instituted under the National Security Act of 1947 and explores its evolution and the varied roles that national security advisors have historically played.  Students will also review the major strategic visions that have shaped US national security policy since 1945; untangle the roles and complex interaction of key branches of government, the media, interest groups, multilateral bodies, and non-governmental organizations.

The second part will be dedicated to three two-week modules that focus on events or challenges that necessitate National Security Council meetings at various levels in the “real world.”  These issues will range from acute crises to chronic problems that might develop into a crisis in some plausible future.  The first week of each module will be dedicated to a review and discussion of the literature relating to the specific module’s policy challenge.  The second week will be dedicated to simulated NSC staff meetings or meetings of the Deputies or Principals Committee.  Over the course of the seminar, students will rotate through the different roles, so that each participant understands how policymakers’ choices tend to be shaped by their institutional role.

The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.


Not offered in AY 2017-2018. May be offered in AY 2018-2019.