This course is an introduction to game theory and a literature review of game theoretical approaches to the study of international conflict. Game theory is a tool for analyzing strategic interaction between rational actors. The course features games like the Prisoners' Dilemma, the Chicken, and the models of bargaining. Students learn how these and related tools can be used to understand and analyze historical and current instances of international conflict. Specifically, we try to answer questions like: why do states fight costly wars in international relations? Why do peaceful negotiations fail? How does deterrence work? Why do states get into costly arms races? How does domestic politics shape international conflict? The recorded lectures are from the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences course Government 1729.

Meet The Author

Muhammet Bas

Muhammet Bas

Associate Professor of Government, Harvard University

Muhammet Bas is an associate professor of government and a faculty associate at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. His research is broadly motivated by an interest in factors affecting the likelihood of international conflict. He identifies a number of particularly important factors that have been understudied in the existing literature, or require re-thinking. These factors are various sources of uncertainty in crisis interactions; emergence and spread of new military technologies, and in particular, nuclear weapons; and changes in the natural environment such as climate change or natural disasters. In order to address these substantive questions appropriately, Bas develops a number of new statistical methods on strategic interaction, some of which can be fruitfully utilized in other areas of international relations and political science.

PhD, University of Rochester

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