This week I’ve been exploring security in my “Theoretical Foundations of Global Studies” class. In my lecture I compared and contrasted Realism and Human Security, then tried to apply these theories to the Mexican Drug War, to see the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches. I then divided my students into groups of three to five at random, and assigned them to speak briefly on behalf of one or the other paradigm in this context. I can say that the students assigned to the Realism group were not happy about that choice, although they did a good job.
I tend to show brief clips off of Youtube in the class, and I wanted to share some links that I found useful. Barry Buzan has an excellent selection of brief (around three minutes) snippets on security, which ask the fundamental question, “what is security?” The “Theory in Action” series has a series of good, brief clips of scholars speaking about core theories in International Relations. The clip on realism is very effective summary of the theory in about three minutes. Richard Betts has a longer video of a lecture on Realism, which is well done. Although the entire video is too long to be practical (over 50 minutes) the first five and a half minutes provide a good introduction to the theory. For an introduction to Human Security, Mary Kaldor has a video on Youtube (about five minutes long), which demonstrates to students how theorists in this field look to global governance to define security, rather than the nation-state. Lastly, this South African piece, “Think for a minute. . . about human security,” is a very brief definition of the theory. In my class I first showed the clip with Barry Buzan and the two pieces on Realism, as the basis for a brief discussion, then followed this with the clips on human security, as the basis for a discussion of Human Security. I think that it was a good way for students to solidify their understanding of both theories. It also inspired a couple of students to change their choices for their “Case Study” paper, in which they have to apply two or more theories to one real world problem. One student is applying the two approaches to Somali piracy, which I think should make for an interesting paper.
Prof. Shawn Smallman, Portland State University