Summer School 2024

We come from all over the world, counting dozens of members and more than 100 experts from world-leading academic and professional institutions. We’re innovative, international, and fun. The ITSS Summer School will help you build your future as an expert in international Security. We strive for innovative thinking by providing reliable knowledge and content. Our professors are scholars from all corners of the globe, with firsthand experience that challenges and innovates the dominant discourse on Security. 

Our tracks tackle terrorism, grand strategy of the US and China, the reemergence of the Greater Middle East, the reality of modern Iran, the evolution of modern conflict and human rights, and the future of the cyber domain. All modules focus on practical examples, live interviews, and debates to make everything as interactive and stimulating as possible. Apply and join us!



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The 2024 “Francesco Fasolo” ITSS Summer School

“In the Eye of the Storm: War, Conflict and Policymaking in the Changing International System”

After the anticipated wait, we are excited to launch the third edition of the “Francesco Fasolo” ITSS Verona Online Summer School!

With the onset of new international wars, the reemergence of authoritarian leaders, and growing concerns around international security threats – from terrorism, to peer-to-peer conflict and cyber espionage – the security arena in 2024 continues to be in rapid flux. For those seeking to understand and respond to the dynamics driving insecurity, violence, and international policy, it has become vital to understand security problems not as specialty silos, but as interconnected and mutually influencing forces.

To prepare you for this, the ITSS Summer School has developed six educational tracks – plus to Foundational course - aimed to provide students and professionals with an innovative, stimulating, and thorough exploration of contemporary security challenges. An inspiring mixture of academics and professionals, our Summer School boasts experts from world-leading institutions and companies, including King’s College London, Cambridge, The Economist, BBC, UN and RUSI. Adding to this, we also recruited industry professionals involved in prevention of violent extremism; UN advisors; and experts with unrivalled operational experience. Our school will prepare you to engage with scholars and policymakers, advancing your career in security, defence, policy, and statecraft.

Our Tracks

Devoid of any politicised agenda, we wish to innovate and internationalise debate through inclusive and accessible means. We offer the following six tracks - plus the Foundational Course, which is included in the package (which can be found in the following pages):

1. Terrorism: a persistent pressing matter

2. Russia, Ukraine, and the future of War in Europe

3. US-China relations: history, concepts, and contemporary issues

4. Towards a Cyber World

5. Ethnic Conflict and Genocide

6. The Geopolitics of the Middle East

 

As said above, all participants are offered one optional foundational course (shades of security) featuring concepts of international security, non-Western approaches to security, political economy, quantitative and qualitative methods. Each session has been carefully prepared to be focused, stimulating, and engaging; highlighting current debates in international security, including practical cases and interviews.

Upon completion, students will obtain an official certificate, network with our scholars and speakers, and join the ITSS community – one of the largest networks in Europe addressing current and future security challenges.

Dates

The School runs online through two consecutive weekends, that is, 7-8-9 June and 14-15-16 June 2024. Sessions run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 09:30 until 19:00 CET (including breaks). The tracks, which are live and are recorded as well, are offered as follows: 

WEEKEND #1 (all CET times)

Friday 7

- 09:00 - 10:30, Foundational Course, "Intro to international security"

- 10:30 - 11:00, BREAK

- 11:00 - 13:00, Terrorism

- 13:00 - 14:00, BREAK

- 14:00 - 15:00, Terrorism

- 15:00 - 15:30, BREAK

- 15:30 - 17:30, Ethic Conflict and Genocide

- 17:30 - 18:00, BREAK

- 18:00 - 19:00, Ethnic Conflict and Genocide 

Saturday 8: 

- 09:00 - 10:30, Foundational Course, "Non-Western approaches to international security"

- 10:30 - 11:00, BREAK

- 11:00 - 13:00, Russia-Ukraine

- 13:00 - 14:00, BREAK

- 14:00 - 15:00, Russia-Ukraine

- 15:00 - 15:30, BREAK

- 15:30 - 17:30, Conflict in the Middle East

- 17:30 - 18:00, BREAK

- 18:00 - 19:00, Conflict in the Middle East

Sunday 9

- 09:00 - 10:30, Foundational Course, "Intro to international law"

- 10:30 - 11:00, BREAK

- 11:00 - 13:00, USA-China Competition

- 13:00 - 14:00, BREAK

- 14:00 - 15:00, USA-China Competition

- 15:00 - 15:30, BREAK

- 15:30 - 17:30, Cyber

- 17:30 - 18:00, BREAK

- 18:00 - 19:00, Cyber

WEEKEND #2

Friday 14

- 09:00 - 10:30, Foundational Course, "Intro to political economy"

- 10:30 - 11:00, BREAK

- 11:00 - 13:00, Terrorism

- 13:00 - 14:00, BREAK

- 14:00 - 15:00, Terrorism

- 15:00 - 15:30, BREAK

- 15:30 - 17:30, Ethic Conflict and Genocide

- 17:30 - 18:00, BREAK

- 18:00 - 19:00, Ethnic Conflict and Genocide 

Saturday 15

- 09:00 - 10:30, Foundational Course, "Intro to qualitative research methods"

- 10:30 - 11:00, BREAK

- 11:00 - 13:00, Russia-Ukraine

- 13:00 - 14:00, BREAK

- 14:00 - 15:00, Russia-Ukraine

- 15:00 - 15:30, BREAK

- 15:30 - 17:30, Conflict in the Middle East

- 17:30 - 18:00, BREAK

- 18:00 - 19:00, Conflict in the Middle East

Sunday 16

- 09:00 - 10:30, Foundational Course, "Intro to quantitative research methods"

- 10:30 - 11:00, BREAK

- 11:00 - 13:00, USA-China Competition

- 13:00 - 14:00, BREAK

- 14:00 - 15:00, USA-China Competition

- 15:00 - 15:30, BREAK

- 15:30 - 17:30, Cyber

- 17:30 - 18:00, BREAK

- 18:00 - 19:00, Cyber

 

Pricing

Each track amounts to a total of 6 hours – except for the “Foundational Track”, offered for free to all students, which equals to 9 hours. In total, all tracks amount to 45 hours spread across two weekends. Bearing this in mind, we offer the following deal:

- 300 euros for all tracks 

Benefits:

  • Inclusive, top-notch accessible education delivered by world-leading experts.

  • Flexible and remote learning.

  • Access to recordings of our frontal lectures, interactive seminars and discussions. 

  • Access to ITSS Verona global network.

  • Membership for the year 2024/2025 granting automatic access to every ITSS Verona event, including webinars and conferences.

  • Certificate of completion.

  • Priority option to publish a piece in the third issue of the ITSS Verona International Security Magazine.

Apply now and join us!

Please send a copy of your CV and a one-page statement explaining the reasons for choosing our Summer School at schools@itssverona.it . Once your application is accepted, you will receive the access credentials (we will use Zoom) payment information, and a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding which is to be returned signed. The application deadline is set for May 27th 2024.

For any further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch and send us an email at: schools@itssverona.it  esther@itssverona.it 

Summer School Track: Foundational Course – “Shades of Security”

Module Convenor: Michele Groppi (president@itssverona.it )

Module Description

Whilst widely studied, security remains one of the most contested topics in academia. Not only is security hard to theorise, categorise, and, ultimately, define. Generally, it is highly context-dependent too. It is inherently relative – i.e. it means different things to different people. And, as a concept, security is often politicised. As ITSS Verona, we have no pretention to address and solve the aforementioned matters. Rather, as passionate academics and researchers who wish to internationalise apolitical discussion, we would like to ask the following: why do conflicts erupt? Which are the most inspiring non-Western approaches to international security? What does international law say about conflict and human security? Do we really understand political economy? What are effective qualitative and quantitative methods to analyse international security? 

Aims 

A combination of frontal lectures and seminars by ITSS Verona members, this module has two aims. First, given the potentially charged nature of the topic, we invite participants to embrace and appreciate the many variegated facets of security, which are the cornerstone of security studies. This is not to argue that individuals cannot mature their own views on what security matters and entails. Rather, this is to provide members with a short but yet in-depth understanding of the main underlying themes and debates in the field. In doing so, the module’s second aim is to expose participants to how members of academia see security, its study, and its practical implications. Not only are we going to introduce mere academic concepts; we are also responding to what we, as academics, are often required to know as for impact, relationships with media and policymakers, and the job market.  

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, participants will be able to demonstrate the following.

Knowledge and understanding of:

Major dilemmas surrounding definitions, theories, and causes of conflict
Main elements of international law and conflict
Most relevant non-Western approaches to international security 
Key quantitative and qualitative methods used in the field
Academia-policymaking relations
Academic career
Academic publishing
 

Transferable/employability skills (through the seminars):

Communication and presentational skills
Balance in crafting an argument by appreciating complexity, avoiding jumping to uncorroborated conclusions 
Mental flexibility – as explained below, members are to think as critically and as holistically as possible 
Respect – for every actor’s research, work, and overall perspective

 

Teaching arrangements

The module is divided into six lessons spread across two weekends – i.e. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning respectively for two consecutive weekends, equalling 9 hours total. Teaching sessions will be delivered remotely. Lessons feature frontal lectures (1 hour), with time for questions (30 min). Images, videos, online material will facilitate interactive and practical lectures. Seminars gravitate around one or two pivotal questions that naturally arise from the underlying themes. Participants are encouraged to engage, contribute to scholarly debate, defend their arguments and, ultimately, share potential solutions to concrete problems.

Hence, this is how the module is specifically divided:


Friday, 7th June 2024

 Lesson #1:      “Introduction to international security” (1.5 h)

What do we mean by security? Why do we study it? What are the main causes of conflict? What are the main theories that explain war and tension in the international system? In this session, Dr Michele Groppi (KCL) answers the aforementioned questions by zooming on realism, liberalism, and constructivism.


Saturday, 8th June 2024

 Lesson #2:      “Critical approaches to international security” (1.5 h)

What do we mean by “critical” approaches to international security? Why is it important to include and increasingly appreciate academia and professional work that does not come solely from Western contexts? Dr Meera Sabaratnam (Oxford University) offers an overview of the rationale and the advantages of more inclusive academia, with particular reference to how non-Western sources may change how we view prime security-related issues  

 

Sunday,  9th June 2024

Lesson #3:      “International law, conflict, and security” (1.5 h)

How is conflict envisioned in international law? What constitutes conflict? How are States to conduct war? What is admissible and what is not? In this session, Dr Marco Bocchese (Webster Vienna Private University) illustrates how the so-called ‘Ius ad bellum’, exploring treaties and customary law that regulate modern conflict amongst States.  

 

 Friday, 14th June 2024

 Lesson #4:      “Introduction to Political Economy” (1.5h)

Why is the economy so central to the discipline of international security? How do States trade? What are the most important economic regulations? How can the economy be weaponised or used strategically? What are the future trends in international political economy? In this session, Dr Victoria Paniagua (London School of Economics) offers an overview of the main theories and concepts in the field of international political economy, touching upon real concrete examples that link economy and security.  Then, Shashank Joshi (The Economist), will reflect upon how the defence industry works with particular reference to the UK amid the war in Ukraine. 

 

Saturday, 15th June 2024

Lesson #5:      “Quantitative research methods” (1.5h)

Why do we need statistics, models, and numbers to spot trends in international security? What do ‘research questions’, ‘variables’, and ‘hypotheses’ mean? Which models are most suited for the study of international security? In this session, Mrs Julia Hodgins (ITSS Verona) shares her extensive professional experience to illustrate the most important quantitative tools required to analyse security-related matters.    

 

Sunday, 16th June 2024

 Lesson #6:      “Qualitative research methods” (1.5h)

If we already have quantitative data, why do we also need qualitative data? What do ‘questionnaires’, ‘surveys’, and ‘focus groups’ actually mean? Which methods are most suited for the study of international security? In this session, Mrs Julia Hodgins (ITSS Verona) and Richard Colebourn (BBC) share their extensive professional experience to illustrate the most important qualitative tools required to analyse security-related matters.   

 

 Module requirements 

There are no formal requirements for this module. Everyone with an interest in the aforementioned topics is welcome.

 

Terrorism: a persistent pressing matter

Module Convenor: Francesco Bruno (bruno@itssverona.it)

Teaching sessions will be delivered remotely

 Module Description

Twenty-two years after 9/11, threats from terrorism remain concrete. In Afghanistan, the Taliban have returned and, with them, so has fear of new terrorist havens. In spite of territorial contraction and decapitation of leaders, ISIS is alive and kicking, and so is al-Qaeda. In Africa, new theatres of operation have opened, with Boko Haram, al-Shabab, Al-Morabitoun, Tahrir al-Sham, to name a few, bringing havoc to entire regions. Within this picture, Europe cannot deem itself safe either. And yet, we still do not fully understand terrorism and how terrorist organisations survive. Therefore, without any sort of presumption, this module wishes to answer key questions, such as, what is terrorism? Can we really define it? What causes it and how can we deter it? Doing so, we will zoom in on the historical, organisational and strategic evolution of al-Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, and Hezbollah. Finally, we are going to reflect upon legal and collective countermeasures undertaken both at the national and international level. 

 Aims 

A combination of frontal lectures, seminars, and live interviews and presentations by world-leading experts, this module has two aims. First, given the potentially charged nature of the topic, we invite participants to embrace and appreciate complexity. This is not to argue that individuals cannot mature their own views. Rather, this is to provide members with an in-depth understanding of the main underlying themes in terrorism studies, enhanced by first-hand accounts of terrorist and counterterrorist activity. In doing so, the module’s second aim is to inspire participants to think as holistically as possible. During seminars, we will spark debate. We will challenge common wisdom. We will play the Devil’s advocate and force you to put in other people’s shoes, rendering this intellectual exercise interactive, stimulating, and thought-provoking. 

 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, participants will be able to demonstrate the following.

 Knowledge and understanding of:

Major dilemmas surrounding definitions, theories, and causes of terrorism
Current debates
Jihadist ideology and related counternarratives
Evolution and current status of al-Qaeda and Daesh
Terrorism financing of al-Qaeda
Future trajectories of terrorism
 

Skills (specific to the module):

Identification and application of possible counternarratives
Identification and application of measures against terrorist financing
Identification and application of parameters to assess counterterrorist strategies
 

Transferable/employability skills (through the seminars):

Communication and presentational skills
Balance in crafting an argument by appreciating complexity, avoiding jumping to uncorroborated conclusions 
Mental flexibility – as explained below, members are to think as critically and as holistically as possible 
Respect – for every actor’s research, work, and overall perspective
 

Teaching arrangements

The module is divided into four lessons (6 topics total) spread across two weekends – i.e. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning respectively for two consecutive weekends, equalling 6 hours total. Teaching sessions will be delivered remotely. Lessons feature frontal lectures (1 hour), with time for questions. Images, videos, online material will facilitate interactive and practical lectures. Seminars gravitate around one or two pivotal questions that naturally arise from the underlying themes. Participants are encouraged to engage, contribute to scholarly debate, defend their arguments and, ultimately, share potential solutions to concrete problems.

 Hence, this is how the module is specifically divided:

 Friday, 7th June 2024

 Lesson #1:     “Introduction to terrorism studies” (2h)

 First part:      “Perception and definitions” (1h)

What is terrorism? Why is the latter so difficult to conceptualise? What is our perception of terrorism and why does it scare us so much? Do we perhaps need an internationally shared definition of terrorism? In this session, Dr Michele Groppi (King’s College London) will introduce seminal definitional debates in terrorism studies.

 Second part:  “Causes of terrorism” (1h)

What causes terrorism? Why would individuals and groups radicalise and embrace violence in the name of their cause? In this session Ms Adelaide Martelli (ITSS Verona) explores the vast myriad of drivers that trigger terrorism. Emphasis is particularly allocated on social, political, economic, and psychological factors associated with violent radicalisation. 

 Lesson #2:      “Jihadist ideology and recruitment” (1)

Why could extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and Daesh be able to recruit many individuals? What are the key attributes of Jihadist ideology? How can the hijacking of Islamic tenets be ideologically countered? In this session, Francesco Bruno conducts a live interview of former terrorist Mr Noor Dahri (Islamic Theology of Counter Terrorism), offering theological and practical tools to identify and debunk Jihadist religious justifications for terrorism and political violence.  

 Friday, 14th June 2024

 Lesson #3:      “Overview and Response” (2h)

 First Part:      “Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas and Hezbollah” (1h)

More than two decades after 9/11, what does the global jihadist movement look like? How are al-Qaeda and ISIS coping with the death of iconic leaders? What about Hamas and Hezbollah amid the war in Gaza? In this session, Francesco Bruno (ITSS Verona) will provide us with a thorough overview of the organisational and strategic status of the above organisations. 

 Second part:  “The UN response to terrorism” (1h)

How is counterterrorism conceptualised at the international level? In this scenario, what is the role the UN plays in terms of legislation and concrete courses of action? In this session, Ms Beatrice Tesconi from the UN Counter-terrorism Executive Directorate linked to the Security Council shares her experience helping states enforce UN legal and practical recommendations to counter terrorism.

 Lesson #4:      “Legal dilemmas in countering terrorism” (1h)

Drawing on the previous lesson, to what extent have countries really implemented UN recommendations in their legal systems? What are the main challenges in doing so? More broadly, why could it be so hard to prosecute acts of terrorism? In this session, Mr Patrick Stevens (International Justice Development) discusses his experience as a world-leading public prosecutor of terrorism.

 Module requirements 

There are no formal requirements for this module. Everyone with an interest in the aforementioned topics is welcome.


Ethnic Conflict and Genocide

Module Convenor: Esther Brito Ruiz (esther@itssverona.it)

Module Description

In this course, students assess the ways in which international politics influence the evolution of the provisions, obligations, and prohibitions included in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention), as well as the impacts of these changes on the prevention and punishment of genocide. Students also consider how subsequent international legal and normative developments, have either reinforced or chipped away at deficiencies negotiated into the text of the Genocide Convention. Moreover, students consider whether genocide ought to maintain its position as the crime of crimes, which situates genocide at the top of a hierarchy of international crimes and associated human suffering, or whether such positioning unnecessarily detracts from other forms of suffering caused by aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity; which may be the prime typologies of abuse in other cases of ethnic violence.

 

Aims 

Through dynamic lectures and seminars, this course foregrounds intersectional views of modern conflict and human rights abuses as analytic lenses to highlight and question the nature of violence in the 21st century. In order to do so, it will utilize extensive case studies and explore a variety of the world’s most severe instances of ethnic and genocidal violence. Students will be exposed to the specific problematics, histories, and contexts of these cases, but will also be encouraged to think critically and question the underlying narratives of each topic. With this aim, seminars will be a nexus between theory and practice, where students are encouraged to apply the ideas to actual cases, past and present.

 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, participants will be able to demonstrate the following:

 Knowledge and understanding of:

Contemporary dilemmas surrounding approaches, solutions, and causes of human rights abuses
The definitions, characteristics, and core concepts of ethnic and genocidal violence
Human rights framings and key debates, comprehensive of its criticalities in genocide studies
Trigger points and resolution methods for ongoing cases
 

Skills (specific to the module):

Case exploration of the genocides of the 20th and 21st century (dynamics, changing nature, etc.)
Mind map summarizing characteristics, components, implications, consequences of targeted violence
Identification and application of measures against conflict escalation and human rights abuses
Transferable/employability skills (through the seminars):

Communication and presentational skills
Case study analysis methodology
Negotiation and conflict resolution
 

Teaching arrangements

The module is divided into four lessons (6 topics) spread across two weekends – i.e. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning respectively for two consecutive weekends, equalling 6 hours total. Teaching sessions will be delivered remotely. Lessons feature frontal lectures (1 hour), with time for questions. Images, videos, online material will facilitate interactive and practical lectures. Seminars gravitate around one or two pivotal questions that naturally arise from the underlying themes. Participants are encouraged to engage, contribute to scholarly debate, defend their arguments and, ultimately, share potential solutions to concrete problems.

 Hence, this is how the module is specifically divided:

 Friday, 7th June 2024

 Lesson #1:      “The Importance of Studying Genocide” (2h)

 First part:      “Introduction to ethnic conflict & the concept of genocide” (1h)

This class provides an introduction to the current debates in the study of genocide. We will explore the definition, origin, and evolution of what has come to be considered humanity’s worst crime, introducing core ongoing cases & modalities of genocide (Darfur, Myanmar, etc.), understanding how international law has sought to prosecute these crimes, and the long-term consequences these campaigns have on the reconstruction and development of states and the building of nations. In this session, Esther Brito (American University) will help students critically understand lived experiences of ethnic and genocidal violence and the ways we respond to continuing instances of collective violence

 Second part: “Dynamics of ethnic conflict: the case of Kashmir” (1h)

Ethnic conflict has been the most intractable and deadly type of war post-WWII. But what is it about ethnic tensions that can become conducive to war? How do atrocities relate to narratives of ethnic antagonism? In this session, Arslan Sheikh (ITSS Verona) will explore the core tenets and challenges inherent to ethnic violence, utilizing Kashmir to illustrate how these dynamics come into play and challenge resolution efforts.

 Lesson #2:      “Gender-Based Violence & Genocide” (1h)

This class provides a critical examination of gender as a defining element of violence in ethnic conflicts and genocide. To do so, we delve into the realities of gendered and sexual violence in conflict (Comfort women, Bosnia, Bangladesh, etc.) and explore the implications of their inclusion into our understandings of severity and impact. In this session, Esther Brito (American University) leverages feminist theory and practice to evidence how violence is differentially perpetrated, interpreted, and responded to in international conflict.  

 

 Friday, 14th June 2024

 Lesson #3:      “The Multifaceted Nature of Genocide” (2h)

 First part:      “Structural Violence and Genocide” (1h)

Why are some genocides ignored for decades? How do means of violence impact our assessment and responses to targeted violence? In this session, Esther Brito (American University) delves into structural forms of violence to desconstruct our views of genocide, and offer a much more holistic understanding of what it means to destroy a community. 

 Second part: “Cultural Genocide” (1h)

Culture was the original core of the concept of genocide: the effort to destroy a group being one seeking to eliminate or irreparably erode a particular way of life, traditions, and identities inherently encompassed by culture. But when the Genocide Convention was made law, culture was stripped almost entirely from it. Why? What implications has this exclusion brought forth? In this class, Esther Brito (American University) reviews the parameters and harm of cultural violence, blurring the boundaries between symbolic and physical harm, and exploring how re-focusing on culture allows us to redefine and more effectively respond to modern genocides.

 Lesson #4:      “Responding to mass violence: From the Convention to R2P & the

                         future of Genocide Studies” (1h)

Modern genocides are increasingly being met with little more than functional indifference. Continued crises in Rohingya refugee camps, Sudan, China, and others may occasionally permeate news or political narratives, but little sustained pressure is exercised in responding to the basic needs of those affected. What mechanisms do we have to respond to mass targeted violence? How effective are they? Why do they not achieve intended results? In this session, Esther Brito (American University) explores the pathways to confronting mass atrocity, and the future of genocide. 

 

Module requirements 

There are no formal requirements for this module. Everyone with an interest in the aforementioned topics is welcome.

 

Russia, Ukraine, and the future of War in Europe

Module Convenor: Dr Michele Groppi (president@itssverona.it

Module Description

The invasion of Ukraine by the Russian forces in February 2022 has set forth the most significant conflict in the European continent since the Balkan wars of the 1990s. While tensions had been ongoing since Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the mobilization of pro-Russian militias in Eastern Ukraine, the invasion has become a historic turning point for European security.  More than one year into the war, analysts remain puzzled, though. What is the current state of operations in the field? What does “victory” mean for each actor involved? What does the war tell us about the future of war in Europe? 

 As the war in Ukraine sets the path towards a reshaping of the global order, this track provides a deeper understanding of the causes of the war, tactics on the ground and grand strategies, the multiple implications the war has in terms of diplomacy and energy security, not to mention the changing character of war and warfighting in Europe.  Guided by top experts from the UK, Russia, and Ukraine, we explore the long-term consequences for the stability of Europe, the reshaping of NATO relations, and the future of the international system.

 

Aims 

This module has three distinct aims: (1) To provide students with in-depth analytic tools to frame and understand the significance of the Russo-Ukraine conflict for international security; (2) To adopt multi-view assessments that recognize the positionality and rationality of all involved conflict actors, so as to better predict security developments and understand main points of negotiation; (3) To prepare students to develop knowledge products with impact for media and policymakers, positioning them as experienced analysts when entering the job market.  As such, through dynamic lectures and seminars, this course aims to offer a holistic understanding of the drivers of the conflict, as well as the different perspectives by NATO, Russia, and Ukraine. In order to do so, the course invites students to keep an open mind as a) the conflict is still going on and complete knowledge of all facts and dynamics is truly arduous and b) no sweeping generalization or stigmatization of any actor involved in the war is intended at any time. Rather, the course wishes to zoom in on the war in the most professional and neutral manner, with the intent to shed light upon a truly pressing matter for Europe and beyond.


Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, participants will be able to demonstrate the following:

 Knowledge and understanding of:

Causes of the conflict and major dilemmas 
Non-state dynamics of political extremism in Ukraine 
Russian influence operations, tactics, and grand strategy
Russian foreign policy and perspective of the war
NATO’s reaction and perception of the war
Ukraine’s status and perception of the war
 

Transferable/employability skills (through the seminars):

Communication and presentational skills
Balance in crafting an argument by appreciating complexity, avoiding jumping to uncorroborated conclusions 
Mental flexibility – members are to think as critically and as holistically as possible 
Respect – for every actor’s research, work, and overall perspective
 

Teaching arrangements

The module is divided into four lessons spread across two weekends – i.e. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning respectively for two consecutive weekends, equalling 6 hours total. Teaching sessions will be delivered remotely. Lessons feature frontal lectures (1 hour), with time for questions. Images, videos, online material will facilitate interactive and practical lectures. Seminars gravitate around one or two pivotal questions that naturally arise from the underlying themes. Participants are encouraged to engage, contribute to scholarly debate, defend their arguments and, ultimately, share potential solutions to concrete problems.

 The courses included in the track are as follows: 

 

Saturday, 8th June 2024

 Lesson #1:      “The Geopolitics of the Russia-Ukraine War” (2h)

The Russian invasion on the 24th of February 2022, was a consequence of historical and geopolitical dynamics that has been manifesting in Eastern Europe since the early 2000s. In this session, Sarah Toubman (ITSS Verona) traces the forces that have triggered the current war. How have Russian-Ukrainian relations developed since 2014? What caused the current war? What happened in Russia in the last months leading up to the invasion? What happened in Ukraine in the last months leading up to the war? What has been NATO’s role? . 

 Lesson #2:     “The Conflict and the Russian perspective” (1h)

Russia has taken ambitious measures and re-committed itself to succeed in its goals in Ukraine – leveraging high-tech weaponry, drafting civilians, and declaring a form of territorial sovereignty over the country’s East. But what is Russia’s vision of the world? Beyond this, what is Putin’s vision of Russia in the world? How does the country and its people see the war? To them, how is the latter going? What is going to happen as the conflict evolves and sanctions continue to hit the Russian economy? What will Russia look like once the war is over? In this session, we take a look at the Russian rationale with Igor Gretskiy (International Centre for Defence and Security Estonia), defining the domestic and international logics behind Russia's actions and considering the next steps Putin will embark on as the war further extends. 

 

Saturday, 15th June 2024

 Lesson #3:       “The Conflict and the Ukrainian  perspective” (2h)

There has been much discussion within NATO and the NATO block about Ukraine and how to continue the war. But what does Ukraine think of the whole matter? What is President Zelensky’s role? What is going to happen as the conflict evolves? What will Ukraine look like once the war is over? What is going to be the country’s relation with Russia, NATO, and the EU? In this session, Taras Kuzio (National University of Kyiv) provides a look from the inside of Europe’s prime conflict.


Lesson #4:    “The Conflict, NATO, and the future of warfare in Europe” (1h)

Western powers are facing their greatest geopolitical test since the end of the Cold War. With the security situation in Europe at an inflection point, patterns of NATO response stand to shape the credibility of the alliance and the standing of Europe’s military strength – as well as set a precedent for future attempts at military aggression. As the post-Yugoslavia decades of peace come to an end, European security is at a crossroads – with NATO potentially including new members and facing war at the edge of its territory, escalation is a real threat. In this session, world-leading expert Mark Galeotti (RUSI) provides and in-depth analysis of the following questions: How has NATO reacted to the Russian invasion of Ukraine? What are NATO’s warfighting capabilities? More generally, what are the implications of the conflict for Europe? What will we witness as for the future of war? 

 

Module requirements

There are no formal requirements for this module. Everyone with an interest in the aforementioned topics is welcome.

 

 

 

The Geopolitics of the Middle East 

Module Convenors: Omri Brinner (omri@itssverona.it) Shahin Modarres (shahin@itssverona.it)

Module Description

The Middle East has been an area of Western fascination for centuries. Its traditions, sites, origins, religions, and languages have captured peoples’ imagination throughout the years. But ever since 9/11 its geopolitical significance has multiplied, its security has had a direct impact on the entire world and, last but not least, its future will determine much of what is at stake and being discussed today – from global warming, to instability, the tensions between authoritarianism and democracy, and more. The Geopolitics of the Middle East track will examine and analyze some of the main trends and issues from the region. These include: Middle Eastern geopolitics and balance of power, the US’ and other superpowers’ involvement in the Middle East, Iran – and its role in the region – radicalization, and the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

Aims 

This track will help its participants to develop a deeper understanding of the Middle East, will enable them to analyze regional international relations through theoretical frameworks, and will expose them to the forces that set the region in motion.  Furthermore, students will be familiarized with reliable sources regarding events and analysis of developments in the region. 

 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, participants will be able to demonstrate the following:

 Knowledge and understanding of:

Better familiarity with the Middle East
Understand the theoretical frameworks that stand behind regional practices
Provide tools to analyze future regional developments
Obtain a historical perspective of current events
 

Skills (specific to the module):

Identifying regional trends
Understanding “who’s against whom” and why
Connecting historical events to contemporary issues
 

Transferable/employability skills (through the seminars):

Verbal communication and presentational skills
Understanding key concepts and theories
Critical thinking  
Having a respectful and enriching debate
Getting to know people from the Middle East and beyond
 

 Teaching arrangements

The module is divided into four lessons spread across two weekends – i.e. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning respectively for two consecutive weekends, equalling 6 hours total. Teaching sessions will be delivered remotely. Lessons feature frontal lectures (1 hour), with time for questions. Images, videos, online material will facilitate interactive and practical lectures. Seminars gravitate around one or two pivotal questions that naturally arise from the underlying themes. Participants are encouraged to engage, contribute to scholarly debate, defend their arguments and, ultimately, share potential solutions to concrete problems.

The courses included in the track are as follows: 

 

Saturday, 8th June 2024

 Lesson #1: “General Introduction to the Middle East: History and Geopolitics” (2h)

What is the greater picture behind what we consume in the news? This session, taught by Omri Brinner (ITSS Verona) and John Devine (ITSS Verona), will contextualize and analyze current events from a wider regional and theoretical perspective. We will: enhance our geographic knowledge of the region and discuss why it matters; explore issues such as regional alliances and their fluidity; ask if countries such as Iran go “all in” in their foreign policies; review agreements such as the Abraham Accords and analyze their significance for the next decade, and more. 

 Lesson #2:      “Iran’s Regional and International affluence” (1h)

Iran’s foreign policy, anchored on a long held defense doctrine, has shifted towards a proxy developing system in the region. This has significantly affected the dynamics Iran engages in to maintain regional relations. In this lesson, Shahin Modarres (ITSS Verona) outlines the different mechanisms for developing proxies Iran follows within the Middle East, tracing their geopolitical importance, and how they affect the future trajectory of regional security


Saturday, 15th June 2024

 Lesson #3:       “Israeli-PA relations, what’s next?” (2h)

What does the future hold for Israel and Palestine vis-a-vis Israeli-Palestinian relations and other Middle Eastern geopolitical developments? On the spectrum between another intifada, stagnation, separation, and a federation, what is more likely to happen? Omri Brinner (ITSS Verona) and Waqar Rizvi (University of Sussex) will: analyze maps of Israel and the Palestinian Territories – it’s more complicated than you think! – discuss whether a Palestinian state can be established and can flourish, considering the geographic and political landscape; review the role of leaders of both sides and how they contribute to a solution, or lack thereof; and ask if a solution – even on the communal level – can originate from a bottom-up movement (people-to-people).

 Lesson #4:      

“Iran-US-Israel-Saudi Arabia: Security Paradigm” (1h)

Pre and post revolutionary affairs between Iran, Israel, and the US have been a prime site of action for political scientists and diplomats. The sophistication of these relations shaped new regional and international alliances, alongside emergent hostilities and the increase of militants and proxies. In this session, Shahin Modarres (ITSS Verona) and Roxane Farmanfarmaian (Cambridge University) will analyze these contentious sites of foreign affairs and examine their implications for the broader region. 


Module requirements 

There are no formal requirements for this module. Everyone with an interest in the aforementioned topics is welcome.

 

Referenced sources/Supplemental materials

A full list of reading/viewing materials will be provided in due course.

 

US-China Relations: history, concepts and contemporary issues

Module Convenor:
Dr Zeno Leoni (zeno.j.leoni@kcl.ac.uk)

Module Description

This track provides a comprehensive, thorough overview of US-China relations over the last five decades. It comes at a very topical moment, just as China celebrated its 20 years within the World Trade Organization on December 11, and fifty years have passed since Nixon and Mao agreed on re-opening relations between Washington, D.C. and Beijing. The module seeks to critically engage with concepts and events core to US-China relations by considering both sides of this dynamic.

 

Aims 

By providing lectures and seminars, we will help our students embrace and appreciate the complexity inherent to great power competition. As such, this module aims to inspire participants to think as holistically as possible about the core tenets and long-term implications of US-China Grand Strategy for the future of international politics. During seminars, we will foster dynamic debates to create interactive, stimulating, and thought-provoking conversations. With classes provided by world-leading experts, this track will explore the great power struggles that will define the next century. 

 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, participants will be able to demonstrate the following:

 Knowledge and understanding of:

Major dilemmas surrounding theories, drivers, and dynamics of great power competition
History of US and China relations
Turning points in this bilateral relationship and key friction areas
Future development in US-China grand strategy and how they will determine the future of global politics
 

Skills (specific to the module):

Identification of core Grand Strategy dynamics and debates
Analysis of the drivers and determinants of great power competition in the 21st century 
Application of key parameters in assessing the US-China bilateral relationship
 

Transferable/employability skills (through the seminars):

Communication and presentation skills
Argumentation based on complexity and systems-dynamics 
Mental flexibility in assessing future political developments
Making connections between historical realities and current global dynamics 
Respect – for every actor’s research, work, and overall perspective
 

 Teaching arrangements

The module is divided into four lessons (6 topics) spread across two weekends – i.e. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning respectively for two consecutive weekends, equalling 6 hours total. Teaching sessions will be delivered remotely. Lessons feature frontal lectures (1 hour), with time for questions. Images, videos, online material will facilitate interactive and practical lectures. Seminars gravitate around one or two pivotal questions that naturally arise from the underlying themes. Participants are encouraged to engage, contribute to scholarly debate, defend their arguments and, ultimately, share potential solutions to concrete problems.

Hence, this is how the module is specifically divided:


Sunday, 9th June 2024

 Lesson #1:      “The World Order Puzzle” (2h)

 Fist part         “Introduction to US Grand Strategy and Strategic Culture” (1h)

What is grand strategy? What are the core tenets of American grand strategy? How did American strategic culture evolve since WWII? Dr Zeno Leoni (KCL and ITSS Verona) and Anurag Mishra (ITSS Verona) explore these issues, from the post WW2 period to the rise of the US-led unipolar world.

 Second part:  “China's historic rise: historical memory & aggressiveness” (1h)

What drives China’s aggressiveness in the contemporary era? This course explores how Ancient China's great power status and the Century of National Humiliation have given rise to patriotic nostalgia. Ho Ting Hung (ITSS Verona) connects this history to a surge of nationalism, tensions with the US, and discusses threats toward democracy and international stability.

Lesson #2:      “US-China relations” (1h)

What led to the rapprochement between the US and China? We critically engage with the idea of blowback to enquire if the US has awakened its would-be rival. Dr Zeno Leoni (KCL and ITSS Verona) will go back to Carter and the US one-China policy, tensions with Congress, and the ambiguity of Reagan’s China policy; as well as Obama’s, Trump’s and Biden’s grand strategies, to study the development of this bilateral relationship. 

 

Sunday, 16th June 2024

Lesson #3:      “Unescapable tension?” (2h)

 First part:      “Xi Jinping’s Thought” (1h)

Today, the Political Thought of Xi Jinping is part of China’s national curriculum, from primary school to university. For those who aim to further explore the implications of China’s rise, it is essential to delve into Xi’s vision: Who is China’s top leader? What differentiates him from China’s previous political personalities? Where do we see Xi’s Political Thought in action? How is it implemented in reality? What does it mean for the rest of the world? In this session, Carlotta Rinaudo and Sandra Watson Parcels (ITSS Verona) delves into China’s vision for the future through the mind of its top leader.

 Second part: “China and the US: great power relations in the Arctic” (1h)

Where are the areas of the world where Chinese and American interests collide? Why? Looking forward, what is going to happen? In this session, Ms Irene Senfter (ITSS Verona) is going to provide a brief overview of the areas where potential conflict can arise - in this, particular emphasis is going to be allocated to the Arctic region, where Beijing’s interests are becoming Washington’s source of worry.

Lesson #4:      “A New Cold War?” (1h)

We explore the core academic debates surrounding the Cold War. Particularly, Dr Zeno Leoni (KCL and ITSS Verona)  presents the core areas of cooperation and competition during this period – including climate change and the Middle East. In this line, we explore differences and similarities in Cold War strategies and the centrality of the allies. 

 

Module requirements 

There are no formal requirements for this module. Everyone with an interest in the aforementioned topics is welcome.

 

Towards a Cyber World

Module Convenor:
Martina Gambacorta (martina@itsverona.it) Julia Hodgins (julia@itssverona.it) 

Module Description

Join this track to explore the fascinating and ubiquitous Cyberspace and the many socio-political, military, and technical challenges that interconnectivity and cyber reliance pose to individuals, businesses, states, critical infrastructure, online venues, etc. We will walk you through strategy and cybersecurity, remarking the relevance of sensitive policymaking oriented to keep cyberspace and our society safe and operative.

 The track will thus help students develop analytical capacities to understand the cyber domain as both a new battlefield and an operational space where new actors, mostly non-state organizations, have been mobilizing power. Our modules provide deeper knowledge of several of the canonical cases that continue to influence the study and practice of international security today.  

 

Aims 

Through a combination of frontal lectures, seminars, live interviews, and presentations by world-leading experts, students are invited to embrace and appreciate the comprehensiveness and complexity entailed in cybersecurity. The track provides students with an in-depth understanding of the main underlying themes in cybersecurity studies. In doing so, the module aims to inspire participants to think as holistically as possible, to challenge common wisdom, and to express themselves in the debates that will arise throughout the lessons. 

 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, participants will be able to demonstrate the following:

 Knowledge and understanding of:

The nature of cyberspace and the challenges of the application of strategy
Strategy and strategic thought, and Cyber deterrence
Relevance of cybersecurity, including the security by design approach
Pressing issues on cyberspace  (attribution, obscureness) and be able to challenge traditional concepts.
The cyberwarfare battlefield in terms of current and future cyber threats
Opportunities and risks associated with new technologies
A critical attitude towards the most problematic and controversial aspects of cybersecurity

Skills (specific to the module):

Socio-political and strategic analysis of cyberspace and cybersecurity 
Technical analysis of cyber attacks and cyber defense tools 
Mind mapping the characteristics and challenges of cyberspace
Case study analysis
 

Transferable/employability skills (through the seminars):

Communication and presentational skills
Balance in crafting an argument by appreciating complexity, avoiding jumping to uncorroborated conclusions 
Mental flexibility – members are to think as critically and as holistically as possible 
Respect – for every actor’s research, work, and overall perspective
 

Teaching arrangements

The module is divided into four lessons (6 topics) spread across two weekends – i.e. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning respectively for two consecutive weekends, equalling 6 hours total. Teaching sessions will be delivered remotely. Lessons feature frontal lectures (1 hour), with time for questions. Images, videos, online material will facilitate interactive and practical lectures. Seminars gravitate around one or two pivotal questions that naturally arise from the underlying themes. Participants are encouraged to engage, contribute to scholarly debate, defend their arguments and, ultimately, share potential solutions to concrete problems.

 Hence, this is how the module is specifically divided:


Sunday, June 9th 2024

 Lesson #1:      “A Cyber World” (2h)

 First part:      “Introduction to Cyber Strategy” (1 h)

The lecture on Introduction to Strategy will briefly examine the evolution of strategic thought before focusing on how strategy is used within cyberspace. To expand on this, an overview of cyberspace, its characteristics, and challenges will be explained. Then, by drawing on examples of various cyber incidents, the concept of how strategy may work in cyberspace will be tied together. In this session, Julia M. Hodgins (ITSS Verona) reviews the relevance of strategy in Cybersecurity.

 Second part: “Brief history of Cyber Warfare” (1h)

How did we get here? This class will explore the evolution of cyberspace and cyberwarfare through the lens of history from the onset of ‘cybernetics’ in the late 40s to the digital fronts of today. Oleg Abdurashitov (ITSS Verona) will explore how these concepts shaped the current understanding of conflicts in the fifth domain and beyond.

 Lesson #2:      “Disruptive technology: AI, drones, satellites, metaverse” (1h)

What makes  a particular technology disruptive from a military perspective? This class led by Oleg Abdurashitov (ITSS Verona) analyzes how the latest technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, Drones, Cyberspace, and Metaverse can be exploited in conflict by state and non-state actors  –  and whether they stand up to the criteria of a revolution in military affairs (RMA).

 

Sunday, June 16th 2024

 Lesson #3:       “Cyber Security as a tool of international security” (2h)

 First part:      “The cyber domain as the new worldwide battlefield” (1h)

Today’s cyberwarfare has integrated a full spectrum of sensors, weapon systems, computers, telecommunications, data collection, and processing activities into the military environment, with the battlefield resulting in a new digitalized field. Despite being boundless, the new battlefield must be defined. Cyber-attacks have demonstrated that many countries are developing strong cyber capabilities in the frame of an ‘arms race’, showing that technologies can potentially be used to undermine international stability and security. Through the analysis of one of the most famous cyberattacks, some important features will emerge:  what a cyber-weapon looks like, the steps of an ongoing cyberattack, the actors behind cyberwar, causes and motivations, the basic forms of cyber defense, the operational and strategic levels of cyber-warfare. In this session, Martina Gambacorta (ITSS Verona) and Maria Makurat (ITSS Verona) will explore these issues in-depth and present core case studies – including Stuxnet, Black Energy, and Solarwinds.

 Second part:    “Cybersecurity: challenges, complexity, and trade-offs” (1h)

This talk is a high level, non-technical overview of challenges and tradeoffs related to (defensive) cyber-security. It is intended as a technologist's advice to policy-makers and their staff whose purview includes security matters. Expert Oleg Goldshmidt (Fortinet) will lead the class to discuss what really matters strategically (rather than how to achieve specific goals, utility of particular tools, etc.), how to approach risk assessment and management, planning, and operational issues. The talk will be illustrated by multiple real-life examples of (occasionally rather spectacular) cyber attacks and lessons that can be drawn from them. Selected topics will include ransomware, supply chain attacks, encryption, privacy, compliance. We will also touch, lightly, upon things like "cloud", operational technology, Internet of Things, etc.

 Prerequisites: The audience are expected to have intuitive, non-technical notions of "computer stuff" like a network, a firewall, or a VPN. They may be mentioned without further notice, but no technical knowledge will be required to follow. Some basic awareness of "cybersecurity stuff" like vulnerability, malware, or ransomware will also be expected. Reasonable familiarity with "truly important stuff" like people and money will really help a lot. 

Lesson #4:      “New dynamics and implications that Cyber and Terrorism 2.0 poses to the world - Are we able to defend our infrastructures against malicious actors?” (1 h)

In the era of the information explosion and a teeming, dynamic arena, the world of big data and cyber poses increasingly complex challenges to the intelligence community. Information technologies are a resource that is vital to the work of collection and prevention when confronting foes in the different arenas. In these two final sessions, Mr Vasco da Cruz Amador (Global Intelligence Insight) shows that there is substantial evidence that the terrorism threat will likely remain serious and severe for the foreseeable future.

 

Module requirements 

There are no formal requirements for this module. Everyone with an interest in the aforementioned topics is welcome.

 

Referenced sources/Supplemental materials

A full list of reading/viewing materials will be provided in due course. Some initial readings are:

Brantly, A. (2014). Cyber Actions by State Actors: Motivation and Utility, International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, 27:3, 465-484, DOI: 10.1080/08850607.2014.900291

Czosseck, C & Geers, K (Eds.). (2009). The virtual battlefield: perspectives on cyber warfare (Vol. 3). Ios Press.

Ďulík M. and Ďulík M. jr. (2019). Cyber Security Challenges in Future Military Battlefield Information Networks. Advances in Military Technology. Vol. 14, No. 2 (2019), pp. 263-277 ISSN 1802-2308, eISSN 2533-4123 DOI 10.3849/aimt.01248 

Kshetri, N. (2005). Pattern of global cyber war and crime: A conceptual framework. Journal of International Management, 11(4), 541 562.

Lobel H. (2012) Cyber War Inc.: The Law of War Implications of the Private Sector's Role in Cyber Conflict, Texas International Law Journal, Vol. 47, Iss. 3,  617-640. 

Shimeall J. T. (2016) From cybercrime to cyberwar: indicators and warnings. Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.

 

Apply now and join us!

Please send a copy of your CV and a one-page statement explaining the reasons for choosing our Summer School at schools@itssverona.it . Once your application is accepted, you will receive the access credentials (we will use Zoom), payment information, and a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding which is to be returned signed. The application deadline is set for June 27th 2024.

For any further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch and send us an email at: schools@itssverona.it  esther@itssverona.it 

The International Team for the Study of Security – Verona

Villafranca di Verona, Italy
CF: 93285920232

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