Fall 2022

Grand Strategy

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-434


Scott A. Smitson (Section 01)


This course will examine the theory and practice of Grand Strategy in a historical and contemporary context, from a variety of analytical perspectives, integrating academic disciplines, including history, economics, political science, international relations, and security studies, with elements from the profession of arms. This methodology will expose students to a rich tapestry of challenges facing senior political and military leaders and help students understand the complex relationship between national resources, military objectives, and national security policy. The strategists and their strategies we consider will range over some two and a half millennia, illustrating the continuity and change in the practice of strategy, as well as the kind of challenges and opportunities that endure for all nations and their leaders. Students will grapple with the complex interrelationship between policy, strategy, and grand strategy spanning the peace-war continuum. At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to evaluate strategic arguments and create alternative courses of strategic action. Students will also be able to apply basic strategic principles drawn from theorists, real world practitioners, and the lessons drawn from historical case studies.

Requisite: At least one prior course in political science required. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Chamberlain Fellow Smitson.

How to handle overenrollment: Priority to Political Science majors, seniors, juniors, then sophomores.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Critical thinking; apply theoretical concepts to real world application; synthesize classic and modern readings on strategy and strategic assessment; utilize analytical reasoning and oral and written communication skills for individual and group work; apply basic strategic principles drawn from theorists and the lessons drawn from historical case studies. Major graded assignments will include exams, a research paper, and capstone practical exercise.

POSC 434 - LEC

Section 01
Th 2:30 PM - 5:15 PM CHAP 101

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
On Grand Strategy Penguin John Gaddis Amherst Books TBD
The Art of War Oxford University Press Sun Tzu edited by Samuel Griffith Amherst Books TBD
The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War Free Press Thucydides, edited by Robert Strassler Amherst Books TBD
On War Princeton University Press Carl von Clausewitz, edited by Michael Howard and Peter Paret Amherst Books TBD
Mao Tse-Tung on Guerrilla Warfare Nautical & Aviation Pub Co of Amer Mao Tse-tung, Trans. by Samuel Griffith Amherst Books TBD
The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery Penguin Paul M. Kennedy Amherst Books TBD
The Armada Mariner Books Garrett Mattingly Amherst Books TBD
The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 Vintage Paul M. Kennedy Amherst Books TBD
Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam The University of Chicago Press John Nagl Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2023