Political Science

Problems of International Relations/ POLS 285-1
Fall 2004

POLS 285-1

Class Time:                 Monday & Wednesday 2:00-3:15 PM, 461 DuSable
Instructor:                    Prof. Daniel R. Kempton
Office address:            Zulauf 315
Phone:                          753-7040
Office hours:                M 10:30-12:00 AM; Th 1:30-3:00 PM and by appointment most days.
E-Mail:                        dkempton@niu.edu
                                     (Expect an e-mail response within 2 working days.)

Course description: Welcome to the ever-changing field of international relations. Already in your lifetime, the world has changed dramatically. The Soviet Union was replaced by fifteen new states; the ideological and military divide that once dominated analysis of international relations dissipated. Democracy and capitalism spread to dozens of new states. The communications revolution eroded states’ ability to control of information and ideas. Even the homogenous Third World, now called the Global South, has lost meaning in the new millennium. New issues such as terrorism, AIDS, proliferation of WMD, and the Green house effect have risen to the top of the global agenda. Keeping pace with this changing world requires new tools and new theoretical approaches.

This course has three primary objectives. First, as an introductory course it strives to provide students with a basic understanding of the theories and tools commonly used for analyzing and explaining international relations. Because international relations remains a divide field, students will be introduced to a number of competing world views including realism, liberal idealism, behavioralism and neoliberalism. Students will also learn about a number of associated approaches to the study of international relations. Each of these approaches emphasizes a different determinant of international relations. Each of these approaches emphasizes a different determinant of international relations (e.g., perception, rationality or group behavior). Finally, students will learn the basic terms and concepts used in international relations.

The second objective of the course is to use the theories and tools learned in the first section to analyze some of the most serious problems now facing the world. This semester special attention will be given to terrorism, the use of military intervention, nuclear proliferation and trade conflict. With each of these units students will be asked to read a short case that presents a specific international decision that was made to deal with the issue. Students will be required to remake these decisions in class as part of a small group case discussion or a class simulation. Other issues will be discussed as they arise on the pages of the Christian Science Monitor.

The third objective is to help students develop their abilities to think and argue logically both orally and in writing. In addition to the tremendous significance of the issues discussed in class, the greatest benefit the course may provide to individual students is to give them numerous opportunities to logically consider international issues and to present their ideas. Toward this end the course employs a number of highly participatory teaching methods including: class discussions, news discussions and case debates.

This course is an introductory course and presumes no background knowledge in the study of international relations or political science in general. However, the course does require students to read the course materials when assigned and to participate regularly in various class exercises and discussions.

Readings: 1. The main text for the course is: Charles W. Kegley, Jr. and Eugene R. Wittkopf, World Politics: Trends and Transformation, 9th edn., New York: Thomson & Wadsworth, 2003. Copies of the text are available for purchase at the University and Village Common bookstores.  Students are strongly encouraged to purchase the main text. Readings from the text are assigned in the Class Schedule (see below).

2. Students are required to read each of eleven cases "prior to" the day that the case is scheduled to be discussed in the Class Schedule. The majority of the cases are also available at the bookstores. Some cases are not available in the bookstore!  While copyright laws prohibit the combining of these cases into a course package, students may make copies of these cases for their individual use. (One copy of every case will be available in the Reserve Room of the Library.  The professor or graduate assistant may also lend out cases for short term use.)  The first case will be distributed in class.  The second case will be available from the course webpages on blackboard http://webcourses.niu.edu/.  Questions to guide your reading will be posted in the Newsgroup (see below). We likely not have time to discuss all cases in class.  Thus for economic reasons you may consider waiting to purchase or copy later cases until later in the semester.

3. Students are required to subscribe, individually or in groups, to the Christian Science Monitor (CSM). Despite its name, the CSM is not primarily a religious newspaper. It is one of the most respected papers and thought to have some of the most balanced reporting of any major paper. Moreover, studies show that the CSM has the highest percentage of international news of any American newspaper. The CSM offers students a special three-month introductory rate. Subscription forms will be made available the first two class sessions. Delivery is by mail. (Students with regular internet access may also read the electronic edition at http://www.csmonitor.com.  However, we would urge you not to depend entirely on the electronic version unless you are already reading it.)  Discussions of current events in international relations will be held during the first 10-15 minutes of class every Tuesday. Students are expected to have read the CSM prior to coming to class and may be called upon to discuss articles that they have read. Also, material discussed in class will appear on the examinations.

4. The instructor reserves the right to hold pop quizzes on any of the assigned readings.  The points from these quizzes will count as extra credit points on the examinations.

Writing Assignments: Each student is required to keep a journal of Problems of International Relations.  To maintain the journal each student must write an average of two entries each week.  Each entry should include a summary of a major international article appearing in the Christian Science Monitor.  Each summary should be of approximately one-half page in length, double spaced.  It should also provide the student's commentary on and analysis of the developments discussed in the article.

Journals must be submitted twice during the semester.  They will first be submitted on September 22 and should include 8 entries.  The second submission date is November 22 and should include 16 new entries.  Since students will not likely have access to The Christian Science Monitor during the first week and last week, the total number of articles that need to be summarized is 24.  Please be sure to indicate the title, author, date and source for each article.

Included with the second journal submission should be a critical essay written in the form of a case.  Each student should take an issue previously addressed in his/her journal and mirror the format of the cases used in class.  The essay should identify a particular decision maker, the dilemma he/she faces, a clear statement of the objectives of the decision maker, and some discussion of at least two alternatives the decision maker might reasonably adopt.  In the closing paragraph the student should also indicate which alternative the student would recommend and why.  The essay does not need to summarize the dilemma in great detail.  Instead, it can cite The Monitor articles, and other sources for background material.  (The Monitor on line regularly provides links to related stories in other newspapers.)  The essay should be approximately 5 pages in length, double spaced and should use a standard citation method.  Citations must appear either at the bottom of the page, in the text, or at the end of the paper.  A bibliography is required. Although primary consideration in evaluating the journals will be placed on content and the logic of the arguments, presentation (including spelling, grammar, and correct word use) will also be considered. Cases taken from a perspective other than an American one are especially encouraged.

Journals are due at the beginning of class on the assigned day.  Late journals will be downgraded 1/3 letter grade for each weekday that they are late. (A journal submitted after class will be considered one day late).  Thus, an "A" brief becomes and "A-" after one day and a "B+" after two days. There will be no exceptions to this rule. Therefore, students with sick relatives, paper-eating canines, low-life typists, or virus-prone computers--as well as those students who are routinely taken hostage aboard alien spaceships--are strongly encouraged to compensate for any potential mishaps by preparing their journals in advance of the submission deadlines.

Undergraduate Writing Awards: The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies. Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing. Winners are expected to attend the Department's spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50. Papers, which can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department secretary by February 28. All copies should have two cover pages--one with the student's name and one without the student's name. Only papers written in the previous calendar year can be considered for the award. However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the following year's competition even if the student has graduated.

Participation: Participation is an important part of this course, and as such is required of all students. The participation grade will comprise 10% of the final grade and is designed to assess both the quantity and quality of each student's participation in this collective learning experience. Participation grades will include attendance, participation in news discussions, participation in cases, and participation in class. Students who miss any more than 4 classes in total, or more than two cases-for whatever reason-will have a deduction taken from their participation grade. Those students who post “at least” three substantive messages to the class discussion group, which can be accessed in blackboard at http://webcourses.niu.edu/, are eligible for a “B” or higher participation grade.   

Students with Disabilities: NIU abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regarding provision of reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Moreover, your academic success is of importance to me. If you have a disability that may have a negative impact on your performance in this course and you may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodation, please contact me early in the semester so that I can provide or facilitate in providing accommodations you may need.  If you have not already done so, you will need to register with the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR), the designated office on campus to provide services and administer exams with accommodations for students with disabilities. CAAR is located on the 4th floor of the University Health Services building (753-1303). I look forward to talking with you to learn how I may be helpful in enhancing your academic success in this course.

Plagiarism Statement: According to the NIU Undergraduate Catalog "Students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources without identifying and acknowledging them. Students guilty of, or assisting others in, either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university." In short, all ideas that are not your own or well known must be footnoted. A general rule is that if the information cannot be found in three or more commonly available sources it should be footnoted. All direct quotes must be placed in quotation marks. These guidelines will be enforced. If you are unsure as to what should be footnoted either play it safe and footnote, or ask for assistance.

Examinations: There will be two examinations, a mid-term and a final. Each examination will be worth 25% of the semester grade. The mid-term examination will be held on October 11, and will include all course materials and readings covered to that date. The final examination will be held on December 6, 2:00-3:50 PM in Du 461. Those who have a conflict, or simply prefer to take the examination on another date, may take the examination on December 4, 8-9:50 PM also in Du 461. The alternate examination "may be" slightly more difficult, and must be requested in advance in writing. Each examination will contain:

  • 20 multiple choice questions (each is worth 1 point)
  • 30 points from 15 of 17 identification questions (each is worth 2 points)
  • 50 points from 2 essay questions (each is worth 25 points)

Grading: The final grade will be:

  1. 25% mid-term examination
  2. 25% final examination
  3. 10% first journal submission
  4. 20% second journal submission
  5. 10% critical essay
  6. 10% participation.

Return to top of page

Web Site: Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science web site on a regular basis. This up-to-date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department event, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to http://www.polisci.niu.edu/index.html.  

Course Outline and Due Dates:




Aug 23

I. Introduction & Distribution of Syllabus

Aug 25

A. The Melian Dialogue (Distributed in Class)

Sep 1

II. Theories of International Relations
Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chpts. 1-2

Sep 8

1. Liberal Idealism 

Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chpt. 5 & 15

Sep 13

2. Realism
Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chpt. 4 & 14

Sep 15

B. One Rock, Two Principles: The Gibraltar Problem

 (case is available free at http://webcourses.niu.edu/ or from reserves)

Sep 20

3. Behavioralism & Post-Behavioralism

Sep 22

4. Neo-Realism & Neoliberalism& Other Critiques
Kegley & Wittkopf, Chpts. 7 & 8

Sep 22

First Journal Submission is Due!

Sep 27

C. The US-Japanese FSX Fighter Agreement Part A (Case 350)
     (Available from the Reserve Desk)


III. The Levels of Analysis Problem & Models of International Relations
Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chpt. 3

Sep 29

1. Individual Level Models: Rational Actor, Perception & Personality 

Oct 4

2. Group Level Models: The Organizational Model & Bureaucratic Politics

3. Social & National Level Models

Oct 6

D. Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs (KSG c14-80-279.0)

Oct 11

Midterm Examination !

Oct 13

 4. Systems Level Models


IV. Problems in International Relations

Oct 18

Oct 20

1. Ethnicity and Nationalism
Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chpt. 5 (pp. 163-173); Chpt. 11 (pp. 424-433)

E. Watershed in Rwanda: The Evolution of President Clinton's Part A (Case 374)

Oct 25 & 27
Nov 1

2. Terrorism
Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chpt. 11 & 13
F. Seeking the Extradition of Mohammed Rashid (KSG C16-90-982.0)
G. The Achille Lauro Hijacking Part A (KSG C16-88-863.0)

Nov 3

Nov 8
Nov 10

3. Weapons of Mass Destruction & Nuclear Proliferation
Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chpts. 12 & 14
H. Atomic Diplomacy in the Korean War (Case 359) 
I. UP in Arms: Russian Rockets for India Part A (Case 228)

J. High Seas Satellite Launches: Paragon of cooperation or Unregulated Danger? (Case 267)

Nov 15

Nov 17
Nov 22

4. The Global Economy
Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chpts. 5, 8 & 9
K. Debt-for-Nature-Swaps: Solution or Imperialism? (Case 454)

Nov 22

Second Journal Submission is Due!

Nov 29
Dec 1

5. The UN & International Organizations
Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chpts. 6, 7 & 15

Dec 6

Scheduled Final Examination, 2-3:50 PM DuSable Rm 461

Dec 4

Alternate Final Examination, 8-9:50 PM, DuSable Rm 461

* All Cases must be read prior to their discussion and appear in red type and italics in the outline.

Return to top of page

LINKS to Relevant Sites:

News Sources:
BBC World News
Chicago Tribune
Christian Science Monitor
CNN Breaking News
The Drudge Report
International Herald Tribune
Itar-Tass News Service (Russia)
Kyodo News (Japan)
The Times  (London)
New York Times
Reuters World News
Washington Post
Washington Times
Xinhua News Service (China)

Terrorism News Sources:
Terrorism Research Center
General Links on Terrorism
US State Department's Office of Counterterrorism
US Department of Defense on Countering Terrorism
EERI Counterterrorism Home Page & Links

Others Links:
The Kennedy School of Government Case Program
Electronic Citation Style Manuals
Evaluating Internet Sources
Bartlett's Quotations

Return to top of page

Return to [department] homepage

Return to NIU homepage