At a time when disinformation and fake news corrupt information sources and channels, a state’s ability to project a persuasive narrative about its national security interests is at risk. This course examines the role of strategic narrative as an instrument of state power in the age of the Internet and the World Wide Web. We will look at strategic narrative concepts, practices, and the impact of the rapid transformation of information acquisition and dissemination paradigms. This course will then examine the dynamic between information empowerment and information control, followed by an investigation of specific challenges to state narrative authenticity in the form of fake news, propaganda and disinformation campaigns. We will also consider the erosion of public trust in state institutions and traditional media sources and how that undermines a state’s capacity to make its case in the public sphere. Finally, the course will undertake comparative assessments of strategic narrative content, implementation and impact to develop a set of lessons learned about the narrative projection of state power in a “post-fact” world.
Twelve interactive two-hour classes will serve to discuss the core course material and clarify the main concepts. The oral presentation and accompanying written assignment will serve two main purposes: to solidify students’ understanding of the course material and allow them to apply their knowledge to the analysis of specific public policy issues.
By the end of the course, students will be able to: • Critically discuss the role and impact of strategic narrative as an instrument of power in the service of national security interests; • Analyze the interplay of foreign policy, public image and government/private sector relationships in the shaping of 21st century international politics and global communications; • Analyze how government, non-government, private and public sector entities use and integrate strategic narrative tools to assert power, advocate policy and convey identity in a complex and rapidly evolving information environment; • Design a focused and realistic strategic narrative strategy to advance a policy/issue/cause in the service of political, economic and social security interests on a local, national, regional or global scale in the “post-fact” environment
10%: Reports on assigned readings and active participation in seminar discussions.
30%: Presentation of an original strategic narrative campaign plan. Topic to be proposed by the fourth class meeting. A presentation lasts 20 minutes. It will demonstrate the mastery of strategic narrative development, to include the identification of strategic priorities, as assessment of target audiences attitudes and values, the elaboration of a plan ties to prevailing policy objectives, the selection and implementation of specific outreach tools, and impact assessment. It will make a persuasive case for its implementation in support of the originating institution’s security interests.
60%: Written briefing in support of original strategic narrative campaign plan. Topic to be proposed by the fourth class meeting. A good policy brief will address the identification of strategic priorities, as assessment of target audiences attitudes and values, the elaboration of a plan ties to prevailing policy objectives, the selection and implementation of specific outreach tools, and impact assessment. It will make a persuasive case for its implementation in support of the originating institution’s security interests. 1500-2000 words.
• Attendance is expected and will be checked regularly. • Given the concentration of material, students are encouraged to read the assigned readings prior to classes. • Make-up for assignments will be allowed only if there is a valid university excuse. • The presentation and briefing paper are prerequisites for passing the course. • The policy of zero tolerance to academic dishonesty (defined in the student manual and in CEU’s code of ethics) will be strictly applied. • It is the student’s responsibility to understand these rules and consult the instructor in case of any questions or concerns.
- Teacher: Vivian Walker