SMNR: Intelligence & National Security

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
WED 2:00 - 5:00 pm SRH 3.312

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location


“Intelligence and National Security” seeks to provide a fundamental understanding of what intelligence is, how it succeeds or fails, the broad range of intelligence activities, how the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) is organized, and the vital relationship between intelligence and national security decision-making. This seminar will focus on the current activities and structure of the U.S. IC, but its primary objective is to develop a framework for thinking about the use and misuse of intelligence in both policymaking and policy execution. The seminar will consider how intelligence information is evaluated, analyzed, and presented to policymakers, diplomats, and war-fighters. Students will also be introduced to the specialized collection disciplines or “INTS” (HUMINT, SIGINT, IMINT, etc.), and to national-level management of intelligence. Counterintelligence and covert action will be covered in considerable depth. The moral and ethical dilemmas associated with espionage and covert activities will be examined, including how secrecy and democratic governance are best reconciled. Students will learn about the legal underpinnings for intelligence activities conducted by the U.S. IC as well as the multiple institutions that play a role in overseeing American intelligence with the goal of ensuring its actions are lawful, effective, and consistent with American values. Foreign intelligence services will be discussed briefly, primarily to contrast these systems to those of the U.S. Readings drawn from texts and academic journals will be assigned to reinforce intelligence fundamentals, but classroom discussions will also draw extensively on media reports, legislative hearings, administration actions etc. regarding current intelligence topics (controversies?) that will inevitably arise during the semester. The seminar schedule will also be closely synchronized with events organized by UT-Austin’s Intelligence Studies Project. For example, senior intelligence officials invited to campus for ISP-sponsored conferences, symposia, or speaking events will participate in the seminar as guest lecturers.