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Crisis Management



Purpose 1: In this course students will learn:

  • about the main theories that explain the causes and patterns of crises and disasters;

  • how to apply these theories to analyze international and national crisis cases;

  • to assess the impact of political leadership on the outcomes of crises and disasters

  • to understand the role of international organizations in the management of crises

  • to understand the dynamics of the post-crisis phase (media and the “blame game”)

Purpose 2: Students will practice the following skills:

  • review a book on a crisis-related topic

  • write a research proposal

  • write a final paper in which selected theories are applied to one or more crisis cases

  • translate theoretical findings into advice for practitioners


This course aims to enhance students’ understanding of the complex challenges that crises pose to government organizations and political leaders. It familiarizes students with the different schools of thinking on the causes of crises and disasters. It maps patterns and consequences of crises and disasters, demonstrating the importance of adequate preparation, effective strategies, and leadership performance. It then explores whether these patterns and consequences are changing as transnational crises such as financial implosions, mass refugee movements, and disease outbreaks become more impactful in an ever-more interconnected world. Lastly, it will offer an overview of best practices and common pathologies, which will help students understand what public leaders and international organizations can do to manage these crises. The seminar will build on a mix of theory, real-life cases, and policy documents. Students will learn to apply theoretical insights to the analysis of real-life crisis cases, formulating actionable advice for public authorities.

Method of Instruction

Seminar (highly interactive)

Study Material

Book: A. Boin, P. ‘t Hart, E. Stern and B. Sundelius (2016) The Politics of Crisis Management (second edition). Cambridge University Press.

Articles (see Syllabus)


Book reviews 30%
Research proposal 10%
Final paper 60%


See general information on tab 'Year 3'