Security & Safety Challenges in a Globalised World

I have just completed and passed Leiden University’s Security & Safety Challenges in a Globalied World course on Coursera.  I started it on 17th April 2023.  I got 98.5% 🙂

A simple Mindmap of the content (click to expand):

Mindmap of the course contentComplex security challenges can be global in impact or reach (e.g. nuclear reactor meltdown or refugees from a war) or global in scale (e.g. climate change).  ‘Glocal’ = local and global.  Examples of problems that are local in scale but global in impact or reach are terrorism, war, conflict and cybersecurity risks.

Societal problems, which includes complex security challenges, are often ‘wicked‘ problems. You cannot try lots of things to see what happens. The rules are not clear. Opinions differ on societal issues. Gaining agreement on a solution is difficult.

Safety’ and ‘security’ have different meanings around the world and both are ‘contested concepts’.

Safety is related to things of value being harmed by flaws or mistakes.  It can be about protection from accidental harm, such as lightning.  It is protection from undesirable outcomes caused unintentionally.

Security – relates to things of value being harmed intentionally by people. Deliberate actions by a person or group comprise a security threat.  Security is protection from harm by people.

Both safety and security are about potential or actual harms.  The difference lies in the nature of the threat: unintentional versus intentional.

Securitisation: labelling challenges, issues or subjects as security issues.  This politicises them, meaning they get priority and prominence.  It also legitimises measures to address them, which may exceed ordinary measures.  Because they have been politicised and given precedence, they than shape how safety and security are defined through a process called ‘mutual shaping’.

Because what we value changes with time and culture, so what we consider risks, threats and vulnerabilities can change.

That was just the introduction.  It then got into integrative perspectives on security and safety.  Then the multi-level perspective.  Risk management and the risk continuum.  Multi-actor responses, how we live in a risk society and risk management.  Risk identification, assessment and mitigation.  Objectivity and quantifiable risks and risk as a social construct.

The Explore / Understand / Do approach was used to analyse a number of events to determine to what extent they were safety or security issues or both.  This is a very useful tool that encourages one to use a multi-actor perspective and move away from traditional national or single-sector views.

The relevance of this was to (a) prove to myself I can still study and (b) better understand globalisation and its relevance to understanding conflict.

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