The course aims to define and elaborate on the concept of military security as it developed after the Second World War. The time span is determined by the ineluctable revolution that the discovery and use of nuclear weapons ushered both in terms of military doctrine and of power politics. Starting with a reflection on the reasons of the early failure of collective security, the course will first focus on the crucial hallmarks of security in a bipolar international system, making a clear distinction between States included in, and excluded from, a multilateral alliance. It will then take into consideration the major challenges posed to military security by newly emerging threats as the former was consolidating after the end of the Cold War.
teacher profile | teaching materials

Fruizione: 21810500 EVOLVING SECURITY IN THE POST 1945 WORLD in International Studies LM-52 A - Z GALA MARILENA


The course focuses on the most important aspects that security has assumed in the international system since the end of the Second World War. In adopting a historical approach, it intends to offer the students a general survey and understanding of a process that becomes the effect and the producer of frames of political action. The end of the Second World War has been selected as the starting point of analysis, first because it marked the beginning of the era of security studies in the United States and the Western world. As field of studies security, studies developed after the failure of the attempt made at that time to establish an effective collective security within the United Nations. That failure coincided with the beginning of the nuclear era and the Cold War. To the time period of bipolar confrontation is devoted a good deal of the course with the related dynamics concerning nuclear deterrence and proliferation. Despite the end of the Cold War, the security discourse is still looming large in the contemporary international system, not only for the growing risk of nuclear proliferation, but also for the so-called securitization process concerning many international issues, like environment, migration and access to resources. The course, therefore, aims at helping the students historicize the notion of international security and familiarize with the main components of the contemporary international security agenda.
First week:
Course introduction; the evolution of the concept of security; the Second World War as a starting point of analysis; the gradual failure of collective security. Reading: Baldwin’s article
Second week:
The beginning of the nuclear arms race; Eisenhower and nuclear deterrence; RAND and the central role of strategic studies
Third week:
Kennedy and a new strategic doctrine; the gradual setting up of a nuclear order; the importance of arms control for international security. Readings: McGwire’s and Ritchie’s articles
Fourth week:
The 1970s and the technological developments affecting the security discourse; Nuclear proliferation; European security and the importance of human rights; the evolution of security studies
Fifth week:
Arms control in the 1980s and the end of the Cold War; the emergence of human security; the post-Cold War era and its challenges to international security. Readings: chaps. 5, 16, 18 of The Handbook of global security policy and Excerpts of the Human Development Report 1994, Published for the United Nations Development Programme
Sixth week:
The securitization process; the importance of digital technology in the evolution of the security discourse; cyber-security and deterrence dynamics. Readings: chap. 10 of The Handbook of global security policy; M. Williams’ article; article by Madeline Carr and F. Lesniewska; Tor’s article.
Please, note that between the first three weeks and the following last three weeks of the course there will be a week of break. Students of the second year, those who have an 8 credits course, will use the week of break for elaborating on some of the topics approached during the previous weeks.

Core Documentation


- Mary Kaldor and Iavor Rangelov (edited by), The Handbook of Global Security Policy, Wiley Blackwell, 2014 – excluding the following chapters: 4, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 24, 26, 28.
- Mark Mazower, Governing the World. The History of an Idea, Penguin Books, 2012 – pp. 191-342 (this is a required reading for students without a sound knowledge of the international history between world war II and the late 1970s)

For the in-class discussions, students will have to read the following essays:

- Daniel Abrahams, “From discourse to policy: US policy communities’ perceptions of and approaches to climate change and security,” Conflict, Security & Development, Vol. 19, No. 4, (2019): 323–345.
- Fiona B. Adamson, “Crossing Borders: International Migration and National Security”, International Security, 31: 1 (Summer 2006), pp. 165-199.
- David A. Baldwin, “The Concept of Security”, Review of International Studies, Vol. 23, n. 1, (January 1997), pp. 5-26.
- Madeline Carr and F. Lesniewska, “Internet of Things, cybersecurity and governing wicked problems: learning from climate change governance,” International Relations, Vol. 34, No. 3 (2020), pp. 391–412.
- Excerpts of the Human Development Report 1994, Published for the United Nations Development Programme
- Michael MccGwire, “Deterrence: The Problem- Not the Solution”, International Affairs, Vol. 62, n. 1, (Winter, 1985-1986), pp. 55-70.
- Nick Ritchie, “A hegemonic nuclear order: Understanding the Ban Treaty and the power politics of nuclear weapons,” Contemporary Security Policy, Vol. 40, No. 4 (2019): pp. 409-434.
- Uri Tor, “‘Cumulative Deterrence’ as a New Paradigm for Cyber Deterrence,” Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 40, No. 1-2 (2017): pp. 92-117.
- Michael C. Williams, “Words, Images, Enemies: Securitization and International Politics,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 4 (Dec. 2003), pp. 511-531.

Recommended Readings:

- Robert J. Art and Kenneth N. Waltz (edited by), The Use of Force. Military Power and International Politics, sixth edition, Rowman & Littlefield, 2004
- Madeline Carr, “Public-Private Partnerships in National Cybersecurity Strategies”, International Affairs, 92: I (2016), pp. 43-62
- Andrew Cottey, Security in 21st Century Europe, second edition, Palgrave, 2013
- Christopher Daase, “National, Societal, and Human Security: On the Transformation of Political Language”, Historical Social Research, Vol. 35, n. 4, (134), 2010, pp. 22-37
- Niall Ferguson, Charles S. Maier, Erez Manela, Daniel J. Sargent (editors), The Shock of the Global. The 1970s in Perspective, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2010
- Avery Goldstein, “Discounting the Free Ride: Alliances and Security in the Postwar World”, International Organization, Vol. 49, n. 1, (Winter 1995), pp. 39-71
- Hilde Haaland Kramer and Steve A. Yetiv, “The UN Security Council Response’s to Terrorism: before and after September 11, 2001”, Political Science Quarterly, 122: 3 (Fall 2007), pp. 409-432
- Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1994
- Geir Lundestad (edited by), International Relations Since the End of the Cold War. New and Old Dimensions, Oxford University Press, 2013
- Voitech Mastny and Zhu Liqun (edited by), The Legacy of the Cold War. Perspectives on Security, Cooperation, and Conflict, Lexington Books, 2014
- Paul Rosenzweig, Cyber Warfare. How Conflicts in Cyberspace Are Challenging America and Changing the World, Praeger, 2013
- Jan Ruzicka, “Behind the veil of good intentions: power analysis of the nuclear non-proliferation regime,” International Politics, Vol. 55 (2018): pp. 369–385
- Eric Taylor Woods, Robert Schertzer, Liah Greenfeld, Chris Hughes, Cynthia Miller-Idriss, “COVID-19, nationalism, and the politics of crisis: A scholarly exchange,” Nations and Nationalism, Vol. 26 (2020), pp. 807-825
- Scott M. Thomas, “A Globalized God. Religion’s Growing Influence in International Politics”, Foreign Affairs, Vol 89, n. 6, Nov-Dec 2010, pp. 93-101
- David S. Yost, “NATO’s Evolving Purposes and the Next Strategic Concept”, International Affairs, 86:2 (March 2010), pp. 489-522.

Type of delivery of the course

Lectures, library work, critical in class discussion of the assigned readings, presentation, guest lectures and, when possible, projections


Attendance is compulsory, since in-class activities are part of the final grade

Type of evaluation

Attendance and participation to class discussions (25%); mid-term written test (25%); in class oral presentation (20%); final paper (30%). The class discussions concentrate on the essays listed in the second section of the required readings. Access to this material can be obtained mostly through the online subscriptions of our university; when this is not the case, the related pdf will be provided to the students at the beginning of the course. During the course students will be able to figure out how to pick a topic for the research paper each of them is required to write and to present to their colleagues.