Human Security

University Programme Course Overview

Human Security

  • Professeur: Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh
  • Session: July
  • Language of instruction: English
  • Numbers of hours of class: 36

Download the 2018 course overview for "Human Security" (PDF, EN, 318 Kb)

Objective of the Course

The course will introduce students to a broader, alternative, conception of “security,” one which concerns not only states and the international system, but also people in their everyday lives. It will examine what the analytical and policy implications would be of looking at contemporary security threats from an individual perspective.

The course will cover the applications of the concept by international organizations in debates about interventions and by states as a foreign policy tool; as well as measurements, both qualitative and quantitative, and complex indicators. It will employ concrete examples, case studies, and interactive exercises in order to contextualize the approaches and tools, and highlight linkages between theory and practice.


In today’s interconnected world, the concept of security extends well beyond the traditional analysis of the military actions and diplomatic policies of nation-states. The multiple crises of recent years have sharpened our focus on global inter-dependence and mutual vulnerability among people and nations. Cycles of financial crisis, pandemics, natural calamities, enduring and escalating wars, and rising food prices have not only brought havoc to the security and economy of nation-states and regional systems, but have resulted in disastrous consequences for the survival, well-being and dignity of individuals across national boundaries, often in a domino effect.

In this course, students will analyze international relations through the lens of human security, a topic at the intersection of the fields of security, economic development and human rights. The course will present a holistic worldview in which it is impossible to separate the effects of food security from environmental security, economic security from human dignity, and political security from violence and personal security. Over the course of four weeks, students will examine each of these topics in depth and assess how progress made in one of these areas simultaneously affects others— both positively and negatively. Students will not only develop a comprehensive understanding of the many issues that comprise human security, but also the tools to imagine innovative strategies to combat the problems faced by systems and individuals.

Organization of the Course

  • Theme 1) Introduction to Human Security
  • Theme 2) Relationship to Traditional Security
  • Theme 3) Relations with the Development Approach
  • Theme 4) Economic Insecurity
  • Theme 5) Measurements
  • Theme 6) Intervention, Responsibility to Protect
  • Theme 7) Peace and Peacebuilding
  • Theme 8) Radicalization
  • Theme 9) Environmental insecurity
  • Theme 10) Community insecurity and Migration
  • Theme 11) Human Security as Programmatic and Policy Tool
  • Theme 12) HS and International Organization
  • Theme 13) Case studies
  • Theme 14) Working in the field as a development/humanitarian worker
  • Theme 15) Wither Human Security: Wrap Up

Professor Biography

Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh is a leading expert in human security and has been teaching a specialization on Human Security at Sciences Po since 2003, at the Master’s of Public Affairs and at the Paris School of International Affairs of Sciences Po in addition to running the summer school class on Human Security since 2015. She also teaches a course on Violent Extremism at Sciences Po (PSIA). Since 2010, Tadjbakhsh works as a consultant for the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia, focusing on implementing the Global UN Counter Terrorism Strategy among the countries of Central Asia. She is an expert on radicalization in Central Asia and Afghanistan. With over two decades of experience with the United Nations, Professor Tadjbakhsh has played an essential role as part of the Human Security Unit of the United Nations, where she has worked to develop a manual for human security practitioners and conducted numerous trainings for UN staff and the government. She also served between 2010 and 2016 as a Research Associate with the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).

She is the author of numerous books and articles on human security and is also an expert on radicalization and counter terrorism and human development, with area based knowledge on Afghanistan and Central Asia. Her most recent book is Between A Rock and a Hard Place: Afghanistan in its Regional Security Arena (with Kristian B Haprviken, Oxford University Press and Hurst, 2017). She is co-author with Anuradha Chenoy of Human Security: Concepts and Implications (Routledge, 2007) and editor of the book Rethinking the Liberal Peace: External Models and Local Alternatives (Routledge 2011). She has taught at Columbia University and has been a visiting professor or researcher at universities in Kabul, New Delhi, Pretoria, Moscow and Dushanbe. Between 1993 and 2003, she worked at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).