PEACE IN THE NUCLEAR AGE: AHIS 296 - Prof; Donald Birn AHIS 296: Spring 2001 Professor: Donald Birn Office: Ten Broeck 203-02 Office Hours: M 3-430 WF 11:15-12:15 Phone: 442-4802 Course Overview Required Reading Grades Exams Writing Assignments Resources PLAGIARISM

Joe Balducci
......................... TB 301-2
..................... MW 2-3 pm
Keith Pomakoy
..................... TB 308-0
........... WF 11:15-12:15

Course Overview

An historical approach to peace studies, this course draws on work in several disciplines to examine the background of the contemporary international arms race. Twentieth century peace movements and efforts at disarmament and arms control are emphasized. The role of international organizations, particularly in the period since 1945, is also analyzed. The development of weapons and the psychology of arms races, the economics of the arms race and other topics are explored. Five books required. Two essay-type exams and a paper are normally required.

Back to top

Required Reading

I. T. Terriff et al, Security Studies Today, 1 - 98

K. Eubank, The Bomb

D. Painter, The Cold War

II. T. Terrif et al, Security Studies Today, 115 - 189

G. Allison et al, The Essence of Decision

M. Klare, Rogue States and Nuclear Outlaws

Back to top

Exams & Other Requirements

A midterm exam covering classwork and the books in I (above) will be held in class on March 16th. The exam will consist of two sections,one of identifications drawn from the readings. The other will be an essay selected at the start of the exam from a list of four questionsdistributed to the class on March 14th. Because of the topical nature of the course, students are also expected to read a newspaper (online, if you prefer) and to post at least two brief reports on this website's message board. Topics might include arms control, UN peacekeeping in ____, the expansion of NATO, the spread of nuclear weapons, the US defense budget, or one of the many other issues we will discuss in class. The New York Times works especially well for this assignment ( and is highly recommended.

A take-home essay exam covering the books in II (above) will be conducted at the end of the semester. Questions for the exam will be distributed in class on May 7th and will be due on May 11th at 12 Noon in Ten Broeck 203-2. Questions for this exam and the midterm will be chosen from those submitted by members of the class. In addition to these two exams and the newspaper report which are normally required — the exception being students with A grades on the midterm who are pursuing major research projects and wish to be excused from taking the final - students may submit an additional paper or book report of 5 - 10 pages. This can be on any book or topic approved by the instructor, with at least one internet source as well as a book recommended. If you plan to do an optional paper, submit your proposal on April 6th.

Back to top


Final grades are based on regular attendance (worth eight points), the average of your two exams, which are weighted equally, and two points for you newspaper reports. You can boost that average (but not lower it) by submitting questions selected for the exams and by doing an optional paper.

Back to top

Writing Assignments

The posting of at least two brief comments based on relevant articles in the New York Times on the course Message Board is the only required writing assignment for the course. Other comments on the Message Board or papers you submit are optional, but may boost your grade. From one to five points may beadded to your final average in the course, depending on how ambitious your paper is and how it is graded. A brief report on one book may get only one point. A well-researched paper which shows evidence of significant reading may receive up to five points.

An optional paper is a way for you to take the course in a direction you want it to go in. Is there a book you read or want to read which fits the purview of the course? If so you can report on it. Try to check the internet for sources (starting with the links on the class website) even if you have found books on your topic. If you have good internet sources identified already, then look for books that can be added as sources.. The required texts for the course may be useful, but they should not be your only book sources for a topic. You are being graded in part for additional reading and research.

There are books listed in the bibliography or footnotes of all of our texts, and you may wish to start there. If you use any of them there is no need to request permission for your topic. For any other book or topic, you will need to get approval. Submit your proposed topic by April 6th on one of the cards that will be distributed in class. Feel free to discuss your proposal with the instructor or TAs beforehand if you are undecided.

Back to top

Online Resources

A website for the course is at It contains many valuable links to websites which may be of interest to you. If you are familiar with work on websites and volunteer to contribute to it, you will be eligible for added points on your final average just as you would for doing a paper. Posting on the website message board may be on anything to do with the course, but every student is required to post at least twice in reference to current news stories relevant to the course (from the New York Times or another paper).

You can log into the Course Message Board here: WebCT

Login ID is the first part of your email address (initials and last for digits of University ID). Your password is the first intial of your first name, the first four numbers in your University ID, and the first intial of your last name.

Example: Bob Smith ID 123456789 Login=bs6789, Password=b1234s

For more information see CETL's instructions.

There are many websites which can lead to useful history addresses. The Department of History has one that can be found on the University at Albany homepage.

A couple of others that are good starting points with history links include: ("Gateway to History")

Links on the Cold War:

The Trinity Atomic Web Site:

The race for the H-bomb:

The European Union website with historical background and many leads:

The National Security Archives Project at George Washington University:

The Federation of American Scientists is the oldest organization dedicated to disarmament:

Several cases for nuclear disarmament:

Back to top


Plagiarism is the taking (which includes purchasing) the words and ideas of another and passing them off as one's own work. If, in a formal paper, a student quotes someone, that student must use quotation marks and give a citation. Paraphrased or borrowed ideas are to be identified by proper citations. Plagiarism will result, at the minimum, in a failing grade for the assignment.


Back to top

Site Credits

Site design and layout: Daniel S. Wing Excalibur Graphic Enterprises

© 2001

Excalibur Graphic Enterprises