Learn about the American Grand Strategy Capstone and other suggested courses relevant to national security policy. 

Featured: 2018 AGS Through Film Course

General Martin Dempsey & Professor Peter Feaver


Last spring, Rubenstein Fellow Gen. Dempsey spent his final semester with Sanford co-teaching the AGS Through Film course with Professor Peter Feaver. At the 2018 Political Science Commencement, Executive VP of HBO Programming Amy Gravitt gave the film class' final project recognition in her remarks.


"I am coming out of the class with a thorough cultural understanding of the history of American Grand Strategy, and getting to dive into these topics with experts like Prof. Feaver and Gen. Dempsey was an absolute honor."

- Riyanka Ganguly '18


"They fostered a class environment that allowed Duke students to feel comfortable debating a 4-star general on everything from nuclear Armageddon in the film Dr. Strangelove to the global war on terror as experienced though The Hurt Locker."

- Alex Moore '19


Click here to watch the student film, "The D-Team."

POLSCI 562: American Grand Strategy 

Professors Peter Feaver & Simon Miles


Study of policy that nations adopt to marshal their political, economic, military, technological, and diplomatic resources to achieve their national goals in the international environment they face, drawing on political science, history, public policy, law and political economy and other disciplines to achieve these ends. Course examines the history, current reality, and future prospects of American grand strategy. Consent of instructor required. 

Other Suggested Courses


POLSCI 390-3 – 05 / PUBPOL 290 – 05: Power and Politics in Cyberspace (Lecture)
Robert Allred

As the title of the course suggests, power and politics in cyberspace will be focused on how the major players in cyberspace seek to exert control over and through digital mediums. Topics will include interstate rivalry in cyberspace, the fake news phenomenon, net neutrality, online surveillance/privacy, and other related topics. Rather than focusing exclusively on substantive questions about the history of power in cyberspace, students will grapple with emerging norms in cyberspace and policies that maximize what is good about emerging networking technology while mitigating its negative effects.


I&E 590, POLSCI 590, PUBPOL 590, SCISOC 590: Hacking for Defense
Professors Tommy Sowers, Ph.D. and Steve McClelland (Permission Required)

Listen and read a WUNC report about this class:
Unable to Recruit Enough Techies, the Military is Partnering with Universities and Start-ups

Join some of the university’s brightest minds for a unique, interdisciplinary educational experience and solve real world problems next Spring. Hacking for Defense (H4D) offers students the opportunity to work in teams to tackle some of the nation’s toughest challenges in a collaborative learning experience.  The course is designed for graduate students and advanced undergraduates in all schools and programs, and takes an entrepreneurial, interdisciplinary approach to America’s hardest national security challenges.  H4D is a modern renaissance class – it covers policy, economics, technology, national security, and whatever else you need to learn to solve your problem sponsor’s pain points. You will be at the forefront of changing the paradigm of problem-solving and solution development for the U.S. Government. The course is demanding; you’ll present at every class, you’ll work closely with your team, you’ll receive relentlessly direct feedback, your problem sponsors, mentors, military liaisons, corporate partners, investors and journalists may be in the room, but, you’ll be solving real problems for real customers, in real-time – and we are live-streaming every class on Periscope and Facebook Live.  H4D is designed to provide students the opportunity to learn how to work with the Department of Defense (DoD) and Intelligence Community (IC) to better address the nation’s emerging threats and security challenges in weeks, not months or years.


I&E 590: Hacking for Conservation & Development:
Applying a Lean Startup Model to the World’s Greatest Challenges
Professor Alex Dehgan

Hacking Conservation & Development focuses on teaching principals and practice of next generation approaches for conservation and development, with a problem-oriented approach. The course will review how we may harness the power of emerging exponential technologies (such as gene editing, machine vision, and robotics), open innovation (prizes, challenges, mass collaboration, citizen science), and entrepreneurship (for-profit, hybrid, and open source models for scale) inside both the public and private sector to transform the efficacy and scale of conservation & development efforts. As part of the course, students will undergo a boot camp in rapid iteration, value proposition formulation and testing, frugal design, principals of digital development, open innovation, and technology development and scaling. The course will involve a lean launchpad practicum around designing and testing proposed innovations for global organizations. Previous organizations for the class have included the United Nations Environmental Program, the US Agency for International Development, and the Good Food Institute (on cellular meat). Permission Required Contact:


PUBPOL 212/POLSCI 358 Globalization and Public Policy
Professor Bruce Jentleson

How the various aspects of globalization affect, and are affected by public policy at the international, national and local levels. Development of an analytic framework for thinking about globalization and its core concepts, major institutions and political dynamics; survey of a range of major policy areas affected by globalization; focus on a policy area of particular interest.


POLSCI 233: Nuclear Weapons
Professor Kyle Beardsley

Implication of nuclear weapons to U.S. foreign policy and international politics. Topics include basic science of nuclear fission and fusion, history of nuclear proliferation, theory of nuclear deterrence, evolution of U.S. nuclear posture during and after Cold War, and case studies of other nuclear proliferation with detailed coverage of North Korea and Iran. Read more about this class here.


PUBPOL 302D: Public Policy as Values Conflict
Professor Simon Miles

In this section of the required ethics core course for Public Policy majors, we will focus on the ethics in international affairs and beyond America’s borders. Is it wrong to torture suspected terrorists, or to kill them via drone strikes? How much right do citizens have to transparency from their governments, and how should this be balanced against questions of national security? Should the United States intervene to stop atrocities like the Rwandan genocide? This course explores the ethical dilemmas inherent in the process of making foreign policy, and also draws on readings in political philosophy to equip students with the intellectual tools to make informed choices.


PUBPOL 502S/POLSCI 670S Contemporary Amerian Foreign Policy
Professor Bruce Jentleson

Focus on challenges and opportunities for American foreign policy in this global age including the impact of interests, ideals and values. Draws on both the scholarly literature and policy analyses. Addresses big picture questions about America's role in the world as well as major current foreign policy issues that raise considerations of power, security, prosperity and ethics. Open to undergraduates with permission of instructor and priority to Public Policy Studies and Political Science majors, and to graduate students.  (permission of instructor required)


PUBPOL 504/POLSCI 543: Counterterrorism Law & Policy
Professor David Schanzer

This course examines in-depth a series of counterterrorism issues that involve both legal and policy considerations such as preemptive use of force, targeted killings, detention of enemy combatants, treatment of citizens who join terrorist organizations, use of military commissions, interrogation techniques, use of profiling for counterterrorism, communications surveillance, data surveillance, encryption, and many others.  Students will complete a major research project that will be presented at the end of the course.  As such, the course may be especially useful for juniors interested in pursuing an honors thesis in this field.  Sophomores may enroll with the permission of the instructor and a waiver from their academic dean.


PUBPOL 590/POLSCI 690/HIST 590: The Global Cold War
Professor Simon Miles

This course delves into the history of one period of both profound global change and significant impact on our contemporary world: the Cold War. Weekly seminar sessions will explore the Cold War as a global phenomenon, spanning the world to consider how and why the East-West rivalry became an international conflict, and with what consequences. This course also seeks to bring history into the conversation over contemporary policy-making. It is, therefore, an extended exercise in applied history; students should think about the topics we will discuss both historically and in their present context. Course assignments will reflect this focus.


POLSCI 658S: Political Economy of Terrorism
Professor David Siegel

Seminar in the formal, quantitative study of subnational terrorism. Addresses historical terror examples, aggregate and individual determinants of terrorism, mobilization and terror networks, methods of terror and counter-terror and their consequences, organization of and competition between terror groups. Focuses on unsolved problems and opportunities for research. One course / 3 units.


PUBPOL 890.15: Research Seminar in Defense Management
Professor Doug Brook

This 3-credit elective course is designed for students in Sanford’s Masters in Public Policy program who are interested in Defense management or who contemplate careers in defense and national security. The course is designed to support graduate-level learning about Defense management policy and practice.

In teams and as individual students in the course will select research topics concerning issues in Defense management, Students will address the research question(s) over the course of the semester and prepare a written report and a presentation at the end of the semester.

Interested students with questions are welcome to contact Professor Brook at


LAW 227: Use of Force in International Law | Cyber, Drones, Hostage Rescues, Piracy and more
General Charles Dunlap

This fall-only seminar is designed to introduce students with limited familiarity with international law to principles involved in the use of force during periods of putative peace.  It will explore what circumstances constitute an “act of war” in variety of situations, to include cyberspace.

The course will analyze when and how force may be used in self-defense and will survey topics such as humanitarian intervention, hostage rescue, air defense identification zones, freedom of navigation operations, and the legal aspects of international counter-piracy and counterterrorism operations (including drone strikes).  Efforts to limit the use of force in outer space as well as the implications of nuclear weapons and the emergence of autonomous weaponry will be explored.

Case studies and current news events will be examined in conjunction with the covered issues.  In addition, students will get an overview of the practical issues associated with the use of force, to include the weaponry, planning, and military techniques involved.


LAW 611AB: Readings | Ethical Issues of the Practice of National Security Law
General Charles Dunlap

This course is a one-credit, pass/fail seminar that will meet at least six times over the course of the 2018-2019 academic year. The seminar will introduce some of the issues confronting young lawyers as they try to navigate today's national security environment either as an attorney practicing in government, as a member of a law firm, or as a counsel for a corporation or non-governmental organization. We will consider, for example, how the existing rules of professional conduct may apply in the national security law setting, as well as examine specific cases of problematic behavior by lawyers. We will also address the practical issues of dealing with clients in very high-stress situations, as well as the "work-life" balance in this area of practice. Readings will include various case studies, law journal articles, and other relevant material. A film will also be part of the curriculum. The instructor may augment his own experience with guest discussants.


LAW 611AB: Readings | Introduction to Cyber Law and Policy
Multiple Instructors 

This course will provide a brief introduction to the dynamic and rapidly evolving field of cyber law.  The course will be team-taught by multiple instructors over the course of ten weeks, and will consist of three major components:  (1) an overview of today’s threat landscape and the legal frameworks governing approaches to private sector data breaches, cybercrime by state and non-state actors, and cyberwarfare; (2) an exploration of key domestic and international data privacy laws, and the legal and policy issues surrounding the government’s collection of domestic and foreign data; and (3) the impact of emerging technologies on approaches to privacy and cybersecurity, with the financial sector as a case study.  The course will provide students with a foundation for addressing some of the most pressing legal and policy issues facing today’s lawyers, and will also serve as a gateway to more advanced cyber-related courses offered at Duke Law.


POLSCI 428S: International Conflict Resolution 
Professor Kyle Beardsley 

This course will consider the roots of global conflict and the various means that actors try to resolve their disputes. A large component of the course will be focused on understanding the theories behind war initiation and termination, paying special attention to how actors interact with one another strategically.  The students will learn both how to conceptualize conflict situations and about how actors practically go about resolving their disputes in the international system.


POLSCI 232: Introduction to Terrorism
Professor David Siegel

This course focuses on the nature of subnational terrorist organizations and government responses to them. It aims to provide the tools necessary to become educated consumers of news in a post-9/11 world, absent the typical polemics, through the careful analysis of different aspects of terrorism: its historical, social, cultural, economic, political, and religious context; the determinants of terrorism at the individual and state level; the organizational and financial structure of terrorist groups; the available weapons and tactics of subnational terrorist organizations; mobilization and recruitment within terror networks; and methods of counterterrorism. We will also briefly discuss different methods employed in the academic study of terrorism.