IPE Introduction

This course provides a foundation of the complex interplay between politics and economics, with an eye toward their role in an irregular warfare and post-conflict environments.  The political scientist David Easton defines politics as, the “authoritative allocation of values in a society.”  Economics, often considered the “dismal science,” is defined by the Oxford American English Dictionary as the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth.  This course will focus on aspects of economics that refer to how people and institutions respond to incentives given scarcity—of money, other resources, and time. This course focuses on the intersection between political and economic considerations, demonstrating that one cannot separate the two.  Hence, only by examining the relationship between them can a fuller picture of irregular warfare or post-conflict environments be fully understood.

Unlike standard political economy courses, this course focuses specifically on the security ramifications of politics and economics in counterinsurgency and stabilization environments.  It begins with an introduction into the basic concepts of political economy and the international economic system, emphasizing how these affect the security environment.  It then examines political and economic development issues, theories, and international best practices.  Finally, the political economy of various illicit actors, including terrorists, insurgents, criminals, warlords, and pirates, are examined.

Course Objectives  

At the conclusion of this course, the student should be able to:

  • Understand fundamental concepts of political economy and the international political system;
  • Understand the effects of political economy and the international political system on national security;
  • Understand the role of political and economic development in conflict and post-conflict environments
  • Assess the political and economic constraints and advantages of various illicit actors, including terrorists, criminals, warlords, and pirates;
  • Assess and develop military operational and strategic level plans that take into account the interplay of the political and economic constraints and advantages of states, illicit actors, and the populations in which they interact.

Course Requirements and Means of Evaluation

The specific graded elements of the course are:

Class Reading Summary Presentation/Notes (Presentation and 1-2 page outline) (10 pts.) – Each student will provide a 10 minute presentation on one reading in the course and provide the professor and fellow students a 1-2 page outline of the reading in email, at most 48 hrs before class start time. Both the outline and the presentation should summarize key points in the reading as well as relating the reading to a current international economic/security issue in the news. The student will respond to questions/comments from other students about the reading itself or topics therein.  Power Point presentations are not required.  Readings marked with ** are eligible for presentation.

2 Take Home Exams (5-6 pages) (35 pts. each for a total of 70 pts.)

The exams will cover the Core Concepts and International Political Economy portions of the course.  The exams will be worth 70% of your final grade.  Students will have 5 days to complete the exams, which will be 5-6 double-spaced pages in length. Students may discuss the questions among themselves but their written submission must be wholly their own work: this is not a group paper.  Exams received after the due date will be subject to, at least, a 10% grade reduction. Extensions may be granted for exceptional circumstances (e.g. medical emergency or necessity, both substantiated by appropriate official documentation). The first exam is due by 4:00 on Monday, 3 March (note that this is NOT a class day). The second exam is due by 4:00 on Monday, 21 April (note that this is NOT a class day).

Class Participation (20 pts.) – Students are expected to come prepared to each class meeting. This entails completing the assigned readings and reviewing the lesson’s objectives prior to the beginning of class. Furthermore, students should come ready to discuss the readings, engage their fellow students and the professor, and think critically about what they have read and discussed. It is the quality, not the quantity, of the student’s comments and questions that matter. The goal is to demonstrate your active engagement with the material. Students are required to leave comments on the topic discussion board for that week and review all comments before coming to class.

The maximum number of points for the course is 100.  The final grade is determined by adding the points awarded for the three assignments specified above, converted to a percentage, and then applied to the CISA grading scale below.

CISA Grading Scale

Letter Grade

Grade Points







Firm command of knowledge domain; High level of analytical development






Command of knowledge beyond minimum; Advanced analytical development









Command of only basic concepts of knowledge;Demonstrated basic analytical ability






Note: Any paper below a 70.00 and thus an “F” will be returned for resubmission.

CISA Standards for Assessment of Student Requirements

Students at the College of International Security Affairs are assessed throughout the semester using a variety of means, including papers, presentations, exams, and/or seminar contribution.  Where students are assigned group projects, faculty will employ techniques to assess the contributions of individual students.

The following serve as guidelines in the assessment of students in coursework at CISA. Definitive criteria for student assessment are found in course syllabi.

Written Work:

  1. Class Reading Outline:  Each student will submit a 1-2 page outline on one reading in the course.  The list of available readings and dates due will be provided by the professor at the first class.  Both the outline and the presentation should summarize key points in the reading; briefly explain how the reading fits into larger political economy issues, and explain any disagreement with the argument in the article.  The outline will be provided to fellow students in email and to the professor.
  1. Submissions must be typed and use 12-point Times New Roman.  Submissions must have page numbers and one inch margins.  Pages are single-spaced within paragraphs and double-spaced between them (please see Blackboard example).
  2. Submissions that include typographical, style, or formatting errors will result in a lower grade on the assignment.
  3. Papers must be submitted in hard copy and email as determined by the course professor.  Grades on all late papers will be reduced at the instructor’s discretion.  Resubmissions may be allowed as determined by the course professor.
  4. There are six cornerstones of a superior paper:
  • It establishes the relevant question clearly;
  • It answers the question in a highly analytical manner;
  • It proposes a well-defined thesis, stated early on;
  • It presents evidence and credible sources to support that thesis;
  • It addresses opposing arguments or weaknesses in the thesis and supporting evidence (this constitutes a counterargument); and,
  • It accomplishes the above in a clear, concise, and well-organized fashion.
  1.  Standards

A (93-100):  Work of superior quality; contains original thought

A- (90-92):  Work of high quality that demonstrates original thought

B+ (87-89):  A sound effort which meets all six cornerstones above

B (83-86):  A solid essay which is, on the whole, a successful consideration of the topic.

B- (80-82):  An essay that addresses the question and has a clearly-stated thesis, but which fails fully to support the thesis and either does not address counterarguments thoroughly, has serious structural flaws, or does not fully develop conclusions.

C+ (77-79):  Sufficiently analytical to distinguish it from a C, but lacks sufficient support, structure, analysis, or clarity.

C (73-76):  Expresses a reasonable argument but makes inadequate use of evidence, has little coherent structure, is critically unclear, or lacks the quality of insight deemed sufficient to explore the issue at hand.

C- (70-72):  Attempts to address the question but does not come to a responsible, defensible conclusion worthy of serious attention or is below average in one or more of the six cornerstones listed above to require significant remedial effort.

F (69 and below): The submission does not merit graduate credit. Students may be asked to resubmit the essay

Reading Presentations:

Each student will provide a 10 minute presentation on one reading in the course and provide the professor and fellow students a 1-2 page outline of the reading (see written work above) prior to the presentation. The list of available readings and dates due will be provided by the professor at the first class. They are also listed in your syllabus with a “**” preceding the reading.  The class presentation should summarize the key points of the reading, how that reading fits into the larger political economy topic area, and any critiques the student or others may have about the reading itself or topics therein. The student should also relate the reading to a contemporary conflict related issue in current events.  Use of Power Point or other relevant visual aids is optional. The presentation will be assessed based on the following criteria:

  • Content: Does the presentation demonstrate an understanding of the material?  Are the key points in the reading well summarized?
  • Delivery: Is the presentation organized to effectively deliver the essential points?  Does the presenter use concise and appropriate language and minimize the use of acronyms and jargon?
  • Presence: Does the presenter appropriately engage the audience by maintaining eye contact, projecting his or her voice, and delivering the content of the presentation with confidence and credibility?
  • Use of Time:  Does the presenter wisely use the time allotted to convey the essential points?
  • Questions:  How well is the presenter able to answer questions with thoughtful, substantive responses?

Class Participation:

Students are expected to actively engage in discussions, ask thoughtful questions, and provide meaningful contributions to encourage critical analysis of issues discussed during class.  The quality of student comments and questions is more important than the quantity of these remarks.

Standards of Classroom Conduct

High quality graduate education depends upon the professional and ethical conduct of the participants.  Faculty and graduate students share complementary responsibilities in the maintenance of academic standards.  To this end, it is essential that CISA students conduct themselves in a professional and civil manner and refrain from disruptive classroom behaviors.  Examples of disruptive behaviors are: arriving late to class; using electronic devices such as cellular phones, engaging in text messaging, or responding to emails during lectures; leaving class to retrieve a drink or snack item; leaving to smoke or engage in a conversation; and carrying on personal conversations while others are talking.  Computer use during class is at the discretion of the professor.  Students should refrain from using computers for purposes other than classroom contribution and the course learning objectives.

CISA students are expected to contribute to seminar discussions and to engage in a professional and respectful manner with their professors and fellow students. Differences of opinion should be conveyed with appropriate regard for the objective, academic, and professional environment fostered at CISA.

CISA Attendance/Absence Policy

Students at CISA have a professional responsibility to attend all classes.  Students registered in NDU elective courses are required to attend those courses even during CISA research and writing weeks.  The following defines NDU’s Absence Policy:

  1. Students must notify the CISA Dean of Students and their professor of any absences.
  2. Foreseen absences (e.g. student travel) require prior notification.
  3. Unforeseen absences (e.g. personal injury or illness) require notification as soon as possible but no later than the first day the student returns to class.
  4. It is the student’s responsibility to complete any coursework missed during the absence.
  5. Towards the accomplishment of lesson(s) and course objectives, it is the student’s responsibility to complete any additional assignments as required by the professor.
  6. Students who accumulate four (4) or more absences will be required to participate in a performance review by the Host College (e.g. a CISA student in an ICAF class would be subject to a performance review hosted by ICAF). For NDU electives (electives not hosted by a College), the Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs will coordinate a review.


The final grade for the course will be computed with the following weights:

Reading Summary                                                      10%     (10 pts.)

Take Home Exam                                                       35%     (35 pts.)

Take Home Exam                                                       35%     (35 pts.)

Class Participation                                                     20%     (20 pts.)

Course Methodology:

Based on the classic seminar format, the course will involve critical discussion of Required Readings and core issues introduced by the course instructor.

Course Readings:

The required readings listed for each topic must be read before the seminar meets.  The faculty has selected the readings for their relevance, quality of ideas, readability, and timeliness. Generally, these readings are listed in an order reflecting the logical development of the topic and can be most profitably read in that order.  Supplemental readings (when listed) are offered for background reference and for those who might wish to pursue a particular topic in greater depth, but are neither required nor reprinted.

Required and Optional Readings can be found through the links in the syllabus, on Blackboard, and in the assigned texts. The textbooks are as follows:

Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to

Fight Global Poverty (New York, NY:  Public Affairs, 2012).

Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion:  Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can

Be Done About It (Oxford, UK:  Oxford University Press, 2007).

Charles Wheelan, Naked Economics:  Undressing the Dismal Science (New York, NY:

W.W. Norton, 2010).

World Bank, World Development Report 2011:  Conflict, Security, and Development

(Washington DC: World Bank, 2011).

Additional assigned readings will be listed for each lesson and are available through Blackboard or the links provided.