War and Peace: The Lessons of History for Leadership, Strategy, Negotiation, Policy and Humanity - Harvard Business School MBA Program

War and Peace: The Lessons of History for Leadership, Strategy, Negotiation, Policy and Humanity

Course Number 2295

Professor Deepak Malhotra
Spring; Q3
14 Sessions
Paper/Project

Enrollment capped at 100 students

Course Overview

What might we learn by examining & debating the lessons of over 2,500 years of history in which human beings have sought to avert, instigate, wage, win & end wars? The course is designed with 1 primary objective in mind: to take the long history of war & peace and weave it together in a way that fundamentally challenges & changes our understanding of the human condition-as well as our approach to leadership, strategy, negotiation and policy. More specifically, we will:
  • Draw lessons for leadership, strategy, negotiation and policy from cases where decision making occurs in contexts characterized by high-stakes, uncertainty, and a cacophony of competing ideas, ideologies and narratives.
  • Examine the powerful role that our implicit models and “theories of the case” play in the choices we ultimately make as leaders and strategic actors.
  • Face the possibility that our strongly held views might be wrong-or of limited applicability in a new environment or shifting strategic landscape-and develop an appreciation for the humility required to challenge and refine our beliefs, theories and models.
  • Identify and grapple with inescapable tensions and tradeoffs in strategic interactions, and think critically about which factors ultimately win out in the choices we make when there is no dominant strategy.
  • Evaluate the role and limits of decision making in the context of political, historical, institutional and other constraints, while also imagining and working to create future states of the world in which what is not negotiable or achievable today becomes possible for us to negotiate or achieve in the future.
  • Challenge received wisdom and implicit theories regarding the causes of conflict and the prospect of its resolution.
  • Reflect on our own place in the world, as well as our capabilities and responsibilities as citizens of the world in which we must act, engage with others, and lead.
  • Make the case that the study of history is not just an interesting or insightful endeavor, but a potentially game-changing investment in our journeys as human beings and leaders.
  • Make history fun.
The course will feature cases, guests, lots of incredible history, and an emphasis on analysis, debate and reflection. This 14-session course will be offered in Q3 (Spring). Students will choose either a final paper or a final project.