Political Science

Problems of International Relations/ POLS 285-3
Fall 2004

Class time


Tuesday & Thursday 2:00 - 3: 15 PM, 461 Dusable



Laman Rzayeva

Office address


420 Zulauf

Office hours


Thursday 12:00 – 2:00 PM and by appointment most days





Course description: Welcome to the ever-changing field of international relations. The world changed dramatically during the previous decade. 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 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). 

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. 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 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 2 entries each week.  Each summary should be of approximately one-half page in length, double spaced. Each entry should include a summary of a major international article appearing in the Christian Science Monitor.  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 21 , 2004 and should include 8 entries.  The second submission date is November 18, 2004 and should include 16 new entries.  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 (for formatting please refer to the Chicago Manual of Style http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/cmosfaq/tools.html, manual of style of the Modern Language Association or any other acceptable manuals of style. The following web address has guidelines for some of them: http://www.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/workshop/citation.htm.) 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.

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.

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 19, 2004, and will include all course materials and readings covered to that date. The final examination will be held on in December 7, in DU 461, at 2 PM. Those who have a conflict, or simply prefer to take the examination on another date, may take the examination on December 9, 2004,  also in DU 461, at 8 PM. The alternate examination "may be" slightly more difficult, and must be requested in advance in writing. Each examination will contain:

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.


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 $50.00. 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.


Statement Concerning Students with Disabilities

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building. CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors. It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.


Department of Political Science 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 events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to http://polisci.niu.edu


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




Course Outline and Due Dates



August 24, Tuesday

Introduction and Distribution of Syllabus

August 26, Thursday

Case Study: The Melian Dialogue

August 31, Tuesday

Introduction to the Theories of International Relations

Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chps. 1, 2.


September 2, Thursday

Liberal Idealism

Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chps. 2, 15


September 7, Tuesday


Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chps. 2, 14


September 9, Thursday

Case Study: Values Vs Interests: The US Response to Tiananmen Square


September 14, Tuesday

Behavioralism and Post-Behavioralism

Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, p. 38-41 (especially p. 40)


September 16, Thursday

Neorealism and Neoliberalism

Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chpts. 2, 4, 5


September 21, Tuesday

Constructivism and Feminism

Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, pp. 46, 49-55.


First Journal Submission is Due!


September 23, Thursday

Case Study: The US-Japanese FSX Fighter Agreement


September 28, Tuesday

The Levels of Analysis Problem and Models of International Relations

Read: Kegley & Wittkopf,  Chp. 3.


September 30, Thursday

Individual Level Models: Rational Actor, Perception and Personality


October 5, Tuesday

Group Level Models: The Organisational Model and Bureaucratic Politics


October 7, Thursday

Social and National Level Models

Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chpt. 8.


October 12, Tuesday

Case Study: Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs



October 14, Thursday

Systems Level Models



October 19, Tuesday

Midterm Examination


October 21, Thursday

Ethnicity and Nationalism I

Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, pp. 163-173, Chps. 7, 11.


October 26, Tuesday

Ethnicity and Nationalism II


October 28, Thursday

Case Study: Watershed in Rwanda


November 2, Tuesday

Terrorism I

Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, pp.  433-445, pp. 619-621.


November 4, Thursday

Terrorism II


November 9,

Case Study: The Achille Lauro Hijacking


November 11, Thursday

Weapons of Mass Destruction I

Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chps. 12, 13, 14


November 16,



November 18, Thursday

Weapons of Mass Destruction II

Second Journal Submission and Short Paper are Due!


November 23,

Case Study: Atomic Diplomacy in the Korean War


November 25, Thursday

Case Study: UP in Arms: Russian Rockets for India


November 30,

The Global Economy

Read: Kegley & Wittkopf, Chps. 5, 8, 9.


December 2, Thursday

Case Study: Debt-for-Nature-Swaps: Solution or Imperialism?


December 7, Tuesday

2:00 – 3:50 PM, DU 461

Scheduled Final Examination



December 9, Thursday

8:00 - 9: 50 PM, DU 461

Alternate Final Examination