Intervention in Action: South Sudan

Course Description: 

Elective Course, Development Specialization/Concentration

South Sudan and Sudan are important and influential case studies of international intervention. On one level, this course explores the connections between ideals, practices and outcomes of different kinds of international interventions, with particular interest in the politics of humanitarian assistance. Emphasizing the imperative of understanding context, it considers South Sudan as both objects and active agents in negotiating external intervention amidst a political economy of intractable conflict. On another, complementary level, it uses these complex cases to engage wider themes concerning the relationship between normative ideas and practice in intervention. What is involved in efforts to translate the abstract universal values directing intervention into practice? By exploring ethics in political action in the context of current humanitarian challenges, students will be encouraged to develop a reflexive appreciation of what pursuing such commitments in real life entails. Seeking to combine academic rigor with policy relevance, the course uses a variety of methods to facilitate active engagement with difficult current policy dilemmas.  

Learning Outcomes: 

The overall aim of this course aims to provide an intensive orientation to key themes concerning international interventions in Sudan and particularly South Sudan, with particular attention to the politics of humanitarian assistance.

 More particularly, it aims to:

  •  provide an introduction to the politics of modern Sudan with particular attention to South Sudan;
  • provide an introduction to the politics of humanitarian assistance;
  • apply the knowledge and conceptual insights gained to current policy debates and dilemmas concerning responses to conflict.

After taking this course, students should have acquired knowledge and understanding of:

  •  the context, nature and outcomes of international intervention in Sudan in general and South Sudan in particular;
  • the connections between intervention, political agency and policy outcomes;
  • the challenges of and possibilities for policy learning in external intervention;
  • and an enhanced ability to critically reflect on external humanitarian agency in general, and personal agency in particular.

Learning Diary: required but ungraded. Please keep a handwritten diary reflecting on the key issues and questions arising from each day, and your reactions to these.

Participation and preparation: 20%

Final Exercise and Presentation: 20%

Policy Briefing (1): Policy Options  (1000 words): 20%

Policy Memo (2): (2000 words): 40%



A prior interest in humanitarianism or development is recommended but not necessary.