Emotions in Conflict and Cooperation

Module code: PL3147

In this module, you will develop a conceptually and empirically informed view of how various emotions and emotional phenomena (such as fear, trust, empathy, memory) shape the conduct of conflict and cooperation in world politics. Combining international relations theory, multidisciplinary research on emotions, and in-depth case study material, this module gives students insights into the myriad of ways that emotions constitute and sustain conflict in international politics. In addition, the module will explore how particular emotional dynamics – particularly the development of empathy and trust between adversaries – can begin processes of cooperation that in some instances can transform conflicts.

The first part of the module focusses on the conceptual and methodological challenges of researching emotions in International Relations. What are emotions? How can we study them? Are they a collective or individual level property?

The second part of the module explores the various ways that emotions constitute and sustain conflicts, and the emotional barriers to cooperation that are present in many conflictual settings.

The third and final part of the module examines the challenge of building empathy and trust between adversaries. In doing so, it introduces you to trust-building strategies and techniques and considers the emotional dynamics of each.

The module is taught through engaging with the conceptual literature and through interactive role-play scenarios where you take the role of diplomats and decision-makers in bilateral and multilateral negotiation settings. The module will be delivered in three hour seminars that use a range of teaching and learning methods, including mini lectures, group discussions, and case study role-plays.

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