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 intrastate 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 intrastate 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 look on natural resources and interstate conflicts. In the following session, these two elements will be combined to see how global dynamics can influence intrastate armed conflicts. Finally, the course will look on the role natural resources can play in ending armed conflicts and peacebuilding.
The sessions of the course will combine lecture and seminar elements. In the first part, the professor will explain the key concepts related to the topic of the class. Then, students will give short oral presentations of empirical cases. Professor and students will discuss together the literature to see how it applies to these cases.
- Class participation: Students are required to attend class and to read the provided readings. During class, the mandatory literature will only be briefly discussed to have more time for discussions and other interactive elements (10% of the final grade).
- Presentation: During the course, each student will give an oral presentation in one of the classes in which he/she discusses a research question about an empirical case related to the session’s topic (about 10 minutes). The topic has to be approved in written form by the professor until, ultimately, two weeks before the talk (20% of the final grade).
- Take-home exam: At the end of the course, the students have to do at home an open book online multiple-choice exam about the content of the course. (20% of the final grade).
- Term paper: The students will be asked to write a paper of 3,000 words (plus or minus 10 percent leeway) about a topic of their choice (within the scope of the course). The 3,000 words include the bibliography (50 % of the final grade).