In a dual professor-student interview, Prof. Dr. Marina Henke and MIA student Linda Jäck describe the value of security studies.
In an article published on 8 September 2022 in DIE ZEIT, journalist Christine Prussky interviewed Marina Henke, Professor of International Relations and Director of the Hertie School’s Centre for International Security, alongside her student Linda Jäck (Master of International Affairs) on the meaning and value of security studies. The full interview, originally published in German, is reproduced below in English with permission from Prussky.
What’s the story with… security studies?
The professor’s perspective
It’s a lesson many have seen play out on the schoolyard: there will always be some who resort to violence. This is no less true in international politics. Putin’s war against Ukraine has brought this old lesson straight into the centre of the discussion and, along with it, the politics of international security.
International security begins where the dialogue ends. Why do actors resort to violence? How can they be stopped? What is nuclear deterrence and what is the political logic underlying the use of nuclear weapons? These are the sort of questions I investigate. One discovery which has arisen from the interdisciplinary field of security studies is this: dialogue is not per se good. It can also be used as a strategic tool to legitimise warfare.
Marina Henke is the Director of the Centre for International Security at the Hertie School in Berlin.
The student’s perspective
My generation never experienced the Cold War. In comparison with my parent’s generation, many of us, prior to the invasion of Ukraine, have never had the nuclear threat on our radar, even though it has been hanging over us the whole time. After the developments of the last few months, the relevance of my studies has of course increased dramatically. Last semester, we systematically analysed Putin and his politics by diving into studies from psychology and the social sciences and by studying Russia’s history and economy. Our investigation made one point clear to us: this war is not a surprise.
Linda Jäck is a student in the third semester of her master’s degree in international affairs at the Hertie School in Berlin.
Good to know
Research area: Security studies is an interdisciplinary field of research. It combines political, sociological, and economic theories from cognitive psychology about perception and emotions with technical perspectives from physics and engineering. At the core of the field are questions of war and peace and how states and non-state actors deal with violence and the threat thereof.
Studies and career: Dedicated security studies programmes can be found at the graduate level primarily at public universities, the Bundeswehr Universities, and the private Hertie School. This specialisation also crops up in peace and conflict research. A career in this field can include working in international organisations, NGOs, security bodies, governments, political parties, and policy consulting.
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