Research and Crime


To understand the role of research and crime in contemporary socio-political and socio-economic domains, environmental dynamics, as well as armed conflict scenarios, which includes a careful assessment of the importance of other communal and more inclusive security systems, such as civil protection, and cybersecurity or private security, in developing a sense of security.


To reflect about possible mechanisms to prevent the commission of serious violations of human rights and other crimes.


To analyse the legal, ethical, socio-economical, and operational issues that new technologies and new contemporary factors raise in the relationship between security and fundamental rights and freedoms.

General characterization





Responsible teacher



Weekly - 3

Total - 36

Teaching language




Not Applicable


Barnett, J. Security and climate change. Global Environmental Change, 2003, 13, 7-17.

Bostrom, Nick, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, Oxford University Press, 2014.

Boulanin, Vincet, Davison, Neil, Goussac, Netta and Carlsson, Moa Peldán, Limits on autonomy in weapon systems. Identifying Practical Elements of Human Control, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute & ICRC, June 2020.

Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies, Wars of none: artificial intelligence and the future of conflict, May 2019.

Council on Foreign Relations, The Security Implications of Human Trafficking, Discussion paper, October 2019.

DCAF & Geneva Call, Armed Non-State Actors: Current Trends & Future Challenges, DCAF Horizon 2015 Working paper No. 5.

DCAF, OSCE/ODIHR and UN Women, Gender, Preventing Violent Extremism and Countering Terrorism, 2019. 

European Institute for Gender Equality, Sectorial Brief: Gender and Security, 2020. 

Europol, European Union Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment, EU SOCTA 2021.

Fukuyama, Francis, Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, Picador, 2003.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), When rain turns to dust. Understanding and responding to the combined impact of armed conflicts and the climate and environment crisis on people's lives, July 2020.

Kaldor, Mary. New and Old Wars: Organised Violence in a Global Era. Cambridge/Stanford: Polity Press/Stanford UP, 1999.

Remling, Elise and Barnhoorn, Anniek, A reassessment of the European Union's response to climate-related security risks, SIPRI Insights on Peace and Security, No. 2021/2, March 2021

Shulman Carl & Nick Bostrom, Sharing the World with Digital Minds, (2020 draft, version 1.8 ) in Clarke, S. & Savulescu, J. (eds.): Rethinking Moral Status (Oxford University Press, 2021, in press. 

Tegmark, Max, Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, Knopf, 2017.

Teaching method

Classes will be taught in an interactive manner where students will be invited to actively engage in the classes. Practical exercises will also be designed in order to help students make a bridge between theory and practice.

Evaluation method

The evaluation method for this course will consist of an individual essay tackling one of the proposed topics that will be suggested by the professors. Details on when and how this will be carried out will be brought out in the presentation class. The essay will be assessed based on the use and knowledge of concepts examined during the course (40%); creativity and argumentation (40%); and description of facts (20%).

Alternatively, students could take a final exam, consisting of 2 essay questions to choose from 4 themes. 

Subject matter

The course Research and Crime focuses on how some of the new factors and technologies can lead to new forms of criminality and tries to suggest how to better regulate them. The speed of technological advancement, increasing globalization, and the exponential growth of global markets have created opportunities for criminal activities, often with a low risk of detection and using new forms of anonymity. In addition, new conflict-laden scenarios make it difficult to distinguish between organized crime, serious human rights violations, and armed conflicts. At the same time, a number of factors need to be taken into consideration when analysing contemporary armed conflicts and how to prevent the commission of violations in these scenarios.


The goal of the course is to try to provide responses to a set of questions: a) what are the implications of these new factors to international and national security? b) what are the legal, ethical, socio-economical, and operational issues that these new factors and technologies raise? and c) what are the paths that may be taken in terms of legal and other normative forms of regulation?



The classes will be structured into 3 modules, namely, new factors, armed conflicts and violent extremism; strengthening responses to tackle organized crime; and cross-cutting issues. The provisional list of topics goes as follows:


Part 1: New factors, armed conflicts and violent extremism

Gender, security and violent extremism: In recent years it has been recognized that gender is an important element for the understanding and the prevention of violent extremism and terrorism. In particular, understanding why and how gender norms affect decisions and behaviour will surely be critical in efforts made in order to effectively try to neutralize violent radicalization.

Environment, climate change and conflict: According to recent studies, the intensification of climate change will increase future risks of violent armed conflict within countries. Environmental and climate factors are rendering the lives of certain communities harder by, for example, threatening their access to water and food, and their economic security.

Food security and conflict: Food insecurity has clearly been a factor behind outbreaks of social unrest and conflict. At the same time, conflict often involves competition over control of the factors of food production, primarily land and water. It is critical to break the vicious circle of conflict and food insecurity, especially in rural areas that tend to be poorer and more dependent on agriculture for both food and livelihoods.


Part 2: Strengthening responses to tackle organized crime 

Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling: Human trafficking and migrant smuggling are global and widespread crimes that use men, women and children for profit. The organized networks or individuals behind these lucrative crimes take advantage of people who are vulnerable, desperate or simply seeking a better life. International organizations and states are fighting for the eradication of these crimes by dismantling the criminal enterprises that trade in people and establishing mechanism to prevent its commission.

Corruption practices: Corruption is a complex social, economic and political phenomenon which affects all countries around the globe. In different contexts, corruption harms democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to political instability. Against this background, current research is focusing on how to tackle and prevent corruption practices at the national and international level. 

Cybercrime and its consequences: cybercrime can have different forms and different motivations. Cybercrime continues to rise in scale and complexity, affecting essential services, businesses and private individuals alike, it causes untold damage, and threatens national and international security.


Part 3: Cross-cutting issues

Artificial intelligence and legal and ethical challenges (Part I and II)

Towards the possible regulation of misinformation and fake news

Legal issues and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic