POLS 437 - International Security

  • 3 credits

This course looks at the multitude of threats and dangers that exist in the international environment and how they imperil the stability of the international system, the security of states, and the rights and dignity of individual human beings.

The course begins by looking at the traditional understanding of these threats which focused on the concept of security among great powers within a system or society of states. In a world where no global government or police mechanism existed, states with global aspirations and interests were responsible for providing their own security—there was no global 911 to call when any of these states got into trouble. Paradoxically, this pursuit of security by states was also a source of threat and danger. One state pursuing its interests by seizing a particular piece of territory or destroying an enemy military force was simultaneously a threat to another state’s security. In the early 21st century, this paradox still exists as seen by the invasion of Iraq by the United States, the tensions between the United States and China in the struggle to exert influence in the Western Pacific, and in the instability unleashed by the political crises in places like Ukraine and Syria.

The course then examines newer “global” or “human” security threats that imperil not merely a particular state, but the larger human community. These include climate change, terrorism, resource depletion and human atrocities. On top of assessing these new threats, the course also looks at the debates regarding how best to implement an apparatus of protection against these multiple dangers. Is military force the only way to guarantee security, or can international institutions and the strengthening of international law also be useful?

Textbooks and Materials

Textbooks and materials can be purchased at the CSU Bookstore unless otherwise indicated.


  • Human Security in a Borderless World (2011)
    Reveron, Derek S. and Mahoney-Norris, Kathleen A.
    ISBN: 978-0813344850
  • International Security: Problems and Solutions (2006)
    Morgan, Patrick M.
    ISBN: 978-1568025872


Eric Fattor
Eric Fattor


I am a scholar of international politics, political theory and the politics of media–or as I now say: strategy, struggle and spectacle. Originally from Glenwood Springs, Colorado and a former resident of Oregon and Arkansas, I am as much at home in the outdoors as I am in the classroom or the library. Over the last ten years, I have taught courses at University of Denver, University of Colorado and Hendrix College. My current primary academic position is a lecturer of international politics, security and political theory at Colorado State University. Other courses I’ve taught include U.S. foreign policy, history of political thought, media and politics and a handful of interdisciplinary courses that combine global politics, security studies and media studies. My book American Empire and the Arsenal of Entertainment was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014. My current projects, including a textbook on media in global politics, seeks to reconceptualize information and entertainment disseminated by both state and non-state actors through advanced communications platforms as a form of power in in the creation of an international political and economic order.

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