2016: An Imperfect World
When States Falter
- How would you define a state? Are nations and states different?
- What purposes do states serve in the world?
- How different would your life be if you had been born in a different state?
- Do “perfect” states exist in the world?
- What are the “best” and “worst” states you can think of? How are you measuring them?
- Are democracies better states than non-democracies?
- What is the difference between a failed state and a fragile state?
- What do failed (and fragile) states have in common?
- How much of state failure can be attributed to politics?
- How much of state failure can be attributed to factors beyond a state’s control?
- Who should be in charge of measuring a state’s success—its citizens, or other states?
- If you were the leader of a failed or fragile state, whom would you ask for help?
- Can there be such a thing as a failed region in a successful state? How about a successful region in a failed state?
- What happens to a state after it fails? What happens to its people?
- Has globalization made states stronger or weaker?
- Do revolutions and uprisings save states, or further doom them?
- Is a failed state a failed society?
- Are some states doomed to failure?
- Is the traditional concept of the state outdated in an age of globalization and the Internet?
- Do your best to understand the current refugee crisis, also sometimes called the "Syrian" refugee crisis. Should all nations open their borders to people in need - or are nations right to reject any, many, or all of them?
Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good States?
- Factors in State Failure: Civil War | Foreign War | Economic Collapse | Natural Disasters | Climate Change | Regime Type | Leadership | Colonialism | Disease | Geography
- Select Historical Cases: Biafra | Haiti | Weimar Republic | the Roman Empire | Yemen | Libya | Zaire | Colombia | the Soviet Union | Somalia
- Potential Preventative and Restorative Measures
Total Fail? Tools for Measurement
- Human Development Index | Gross Domestic Product
- Polity IV | Freedom House | Social Progress Index
- Failed States Index | Legatum Prosperity Index
Additional Terms to Learn (Examples)
- Weak state | Fragile state | Collapsed state | Catastrophic success
- Civil Society | Regime Type | Institutions | NGOs
- Development Agencies | Peacebuilding Commission | Post-Conflict Compacts
- Democratization | Authoritarianism | Sovereignty | Social Contract
Selected Readings & Speeches
Selected Film: The Lego Movie
Additional Questions & Cases to Discuss (Examples)