‘War and the non-human sphere’

War and the non-human sphere’ is a course just launched by the Marjan Centre at the Department of War Studies, King’s College: it is a one term/semester mini-module within the MA programme, starting in January.

The fact that this is the first such course in the world is a testament to both the vision of the Department of War Studies and the emerging importance of such a topic: it is being supervised by Professor Michael Rainsborough, academic director of the Marjan Centre, in conjunction with Jasper Humphreys of the centre.

Seven students have ‘signed up’ which is great news: what will they learn?

The course looks at the non-human aspects of war which traditionally have been considered incidental to war and conflict: it will explore key intellectual and philosophical questions, such as ‘is it possible to make clear analytical distinctions between a human and non-human sphere in studying the consequences of war’, or ‘in what ways should we understand the connections among them’?

Emerging areas of interest such as the ‘militarisation’ – or ‘green’ militarisation – and ‘securitisation’ of conservation and biodiversity will also be explored, along with conceptual debates about ‘ecocide’ and ‘eco-terrorism’, as well as exploring the impact of climate change in conflict terms, and the role of resources as  both a driver and product of conflict.

One element of the course that draws heavily on the distinctive identity of the Department of War Studies is how far war-like or even strategic behaviour can be traced back to, or have parallels with, patterns in the animal world: this is to encourage thinking about the moral and ethical responsibilities of humans in their treatment of animals and the wider environment as tools and instruments in war.       Jasper Humphreys, The Marjan Centre.

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