Natural Resources and Armed Conflicts
Credits: 4 ECTS
Both scholarly research and media reports have made a link between natural resources and the onset, duration, and intensity of armed conflicts. Abundance in valuable commodities, such as diamonds or gold, is a potential source of revenue for warring parties and can motivate actors to start or prolong a conflict. At the same time, the scarcity of other natural resources (e.g. water or land) can also contribute to the outbreak of violent conflicts. However, the picture is not always that grim: in some cases, natural resource abundance or scarcity has stimulated cooperation and helped preventing or ending armed conflicts. This course’s aim is to look on the relationship between natural resources and armed conflicts. First, it will show how they can contribute to the outbreak of armed conflicts. Is resource abundance a curse or a blessing? Does scarcity lead to more conflicts, or exactly to more cooperation? Then, the course will discuss the role of environmental factors in ongoing armed conflicts. This section will shed some light on the role of ‘conflict resources’ in war economies. Finally, the course will look on the role natural resources can play in ending armed conflicts and peacebuilding.
Note: 50% of the grade is based on the term paper. However, the course and the evaluation components are designed to provide the students with the required materials to start the writing process of the term paper ahead of the intensive week.
Introductory sessions and pre-session discussions: Students are required to read the mandatory readings and to engage actively in class and in the online discussions (15% of the final grade).
Mid-term paper: In order to support the writing-process of the term paper, the students are expected to submit a mid-term paper after session 8 of 350 words. The topic has to be approved in written form by the instructor until, ultimately two weeks before the mid-term deadline. In this mid-term paper, the students are supposed to explain the chosen topic of their final paper, adhering to the structure in the appendix. This will allow the instructor to give feedback along the way (10% of the final grade).
Presentation: During the intensive weeks, each student will give an oral presentation on their mid-term paper (10-12 minutes). This will allow students to receive feedback to incorporate in their final version. The research methodology of the final paper should not be the main part of the presentations, since we want to learn about the empirical case(s) the student has chosen for their final paper. Students are encouraged to present preliminary findings on their research question but are not expected to present final results. If needed, students are also free to include further examples in the presentation to make their case (20% of the final grade).
Term paper: The students will be asked to write a paper of 3,000 words (including bibliography). This final paper will be a continuation of the midterm paper (50% of the final grade).
Simulation: In the final class, the students will simulate the peace talks of a resource-driven conflict. Depending on class size, the actors will be assigned to groups of students or individually. The students are expected to gather some information about the case prior to the class and to write as a group or individually a brief policy paper for the actor they play (250-400 words) (5% of the final grade).
All papers have to be submitted on the Virtual Campus. For the sake of fairness, there will be a penalty for submitting a paper after the deadline. For every day delay, 0.5 point will be subtracted from the grade. The word count leeway for written work is 10% and non-adherence may be penalized.