Political Science

Problems of International Relations/ POLS 285-3
Fall 2005

Class time


Tuesday & Thursday 9:30 - 10: 45 AM, 461 Dusable



Laman Rzayeva

Office address


476 Dusable

Office phone



Office hours


Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00 – 12:00 AM





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 newspapers which will be discussed in the class.

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.


Required Readings:

1.The main text for the course is: Charles W. Kegley, Jr. and Eugene R. Wittkopf, World Politics: Trends and Transformation, 10th edn., New York: Thomson & Wadsworth, 2005. 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).

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). 

2. Either Christian Science Monitor (CSM) or New York Times (NYT). Despite its name, the CSM is not primarily a religious newspaper. Studies show that the CSM has the highest percentage of international news of any American newspaper. Students are encouraged to read print version of these newspapers. However, their electronic versions are also available: for CSM it is www.csmonitor.com and for New York Times it is www.nytimes.com

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 or NYT 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.

 3. Lectures overlap but not exactly coincide with material covered in the text book and case studies. Students are strongly encouraged to take notes during the class and to ask questions. In addition to that, lecture notes will be available from the print reserve. Exams will cover material from text book, case studies and lectures.

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:

1. 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 entry should be of approximately one page in length, double spaced. Each entry should include a summary (maximum half-double spaced page) of a major international article appearing in the CSM or NYT.  In addition to the summary, journal entry should also provide the half-double-spaced page long student's commentary on and analysis of the developments discussed in the article (for example, why student did find this news interesting, who are major actors involved, what is a problem between/among them, what is their attitude for the solution of this problem, what does student think about event covered in the news, what kind of implications for future that event might have, to which other events and developments this event can be related, how, why).



Journals should contain two entries from each of the following weeks:

Week 1: Aug 30 - Sep 6

Week 2: Sep 6 – Sep 13

Week 3: Sep 13 - Sep 20

Week 4: Sept 20 – Sep 27

Week 5: Sep 27 – Oc7 4

Week 6: Oct 4 – Oct 11

Week 7: Oct 11 – Oct 18

Week 8: Oct 18 – Oct 25

Week 9: Oct 25 – Nov 1

Week 10: Nov 1 – Nov 8


Journal composed of 20 entries should be submitted together with short paper on November 8, 2005.

Late journals will be downgraded. Please be sure to indicate the title, author, date and source for each article (otherwise your journal will be downgraded).


2. In addition to the journal, student should write a critical essay.  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 sources of your choice (any newspaper articles, or any books). Make sure to indicate author name, article/book title, date of publication, source (book or name of newspaper or magazine) for each source you use.


Critical essay is due on November 15, 2005.


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.)


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 will have a deduction taken from their participation grade. Students who come to the class 15 minutes late and/or leave 15 minutes earlier (without prior notification of instructor) will be considered as absent.


Note: Students who fall asleep for more than 5 minutes will also be considered as absent.


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 30% of the semester grade. The mid-term examination will be held on October 20, 2005, at 9:30 AM, in 461 Dusable, and will include all course materials and readings covered to that date. The final examination will be held on Thursday December 8, 2005, from 10 AM to 11:50 AM, in 461 Dusable.


Those who have a schedule conflict, or any other reason not to take the final examination on December 8, should notify instructor about it at least one day in advance (by e-mail or in any other written form). Then they may take the examination on Tuesday December 6, 2005, from 8 PM to 9:50 PM, in 461 Dusable. The alternate examination "may be" slightly more difficult, and must be requested in advance in writing.



Each examination will contain:


Exam study reviews will be available to students one week before each exam.  In addition, review sessions will give students an opportunity to ask all kind of exam-related questions and to clarify issues missed in the previous lectures.


Summary Grading and Due dates:


  1. 30% mid-term examination
  2. 30% final examination
  3. 20% first journal submission
  4. 10% critical essay
  5. 10% participation.


Midterm – October 20, 2005

Journals – November 8, 2005

Essay – November 15, 2005

Final – December 8, 2005

Alternate Final – December 6, 2005

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


Tue  Aug 23


Introduction and distribution of syllabus


Thu  Aug 25


International relations as an academic discipline: development, major debates, subject of study, level of analysis.

Kegley and Wittkopf, Chp. 1 and chpt. 2 (pp. 26-29)


Tue Aug 30


Discussion of current news



Thu Sept 1



Kegley & Wittkopf, Chpt. 2 (pp33-38) and chpt.13


Tue Sept 6


Discussion of current news


Kegley and Wittkopf , chpts. 2 (pp 38-40)


Thu Sept 8


Liberal idealism

Kegley Wittkopf, chpts 2 (pp. 29-33) and chpt.14 (pp. 528-556, 564-567)


Tue Sept 13


Discussion of current news


Kegley and Wittkopf, chpt. 2 (pp. 40-45).



Thu Sept 15






Tue Sept 20


Discussion of current news

Constructivism and Feminism

Kegley and Wittkopf, chpt. 2 (pp. 46-52) and chpt. 7 (pp. 240-244)


Thu Sept 22


Individual Level Models: The Rational-Actor Model of foreign policy decision-making.

Perception . Personality 

Kegley and Wittkopf, chpt. 3 (pp. 63-68, 86-91), chpt.11 (p. 403).



Tue Sept 27


Discussion of current news

Group Level models: Organizational Process and Bureaucratic Politics Models of foreign policy decision-making. 

Kegley and Wittkopf, chpt. 3, pp. 78-86


Thu Sept 29


Group-level models continued. Groupthink.

Kegley and Wittkopf, p. 85


Tue Oct 4


Discussion of current news




Thu Oct 6


Nation- and society-level determinants of the international relations.

Kgeley and Wittkopf, chpt. 11, pp. 406-413


Tue Oct 11


Discussion of current news

System-level theories of the international relations

Kegley and Wittkopf, chpt. 11, pp. 413-420


Thu Oct 13


Behavioralism and Post-Behavioralism.

Kegley and Wittkopf, chpt.2, p. 37


Tue Oct 18


Review session


Thu Oct 20


Mid-term examination



Tue Oct 25


Discussion of current news

Ethnicity and ethnic conflict

Kegley and Wittkopf, chpt. 6 (pp. 196-197), chp. 7 (pp. 223-240), chp. 11 (p. 420-427)


Thu Oct 27





Tue Nov 1


Discussion of current news


Kegley and Wittkopf, chpt. 11, pp. 427-438, chpt. 15, pp. 578-580


Thu Nov 3


Terrorism (cont.)



Tue Nov 8


Due day for submission of the Journal of International Relations.





Thu Nov 10


Weapons of Mass Destruction

Kegley and Wittkopf, chp. 12 , pp. 460-467.



Tue Nov 15


Due day for submission of critical essays


Discussion of current news

Weapons of Mass Destruction (cont.)


Thu Nov 17




Tue Nov 22




Thu Nov 24


International Political Economy

Kegley and Wittkopf, chapters 8 and 9.


Tue Nov 29




Thu Dec 1


Review session



Tue Dec 6 alternate final


Thu Dec 8 final