POLS 285/ Section-4

Instructor: Mazen Nagi

Meeting time and place: MWF, 11:00-11:50, Dusable 459

E-Mail: tiedye95@yahoo.com


Course Description:

                Welcome to the ever-changing world of international relations. The world has changed dramatically in the 1990s and the beginning of the new millennium. Europe has seen the birth and/or rebirth of nineteen new states; the ideological and military divide that once dominated analysis of international relations has dissipated. Democracy has rapidly spread to dozens of new states. The communications revolution is rapidly eroding states' ability to control the flow of information and ideas, as the rise of transnational movements and groups such as al Qaeda clearly demonstrate. Even the notion of a homogenous Third World frozen in place has lost meaning as we enter the millennium. 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 divided field, students will be introduced to a number of competing world views including realism, liberal idealism, neo-realism and neo-liberalism. 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: perception, rationality, and 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, trade conflict and nuclear proliferation. Other issues will be discussed as they arise on the pages of the Christian Science Monitor. Several case studies will be assigned throughout the semester, in order to more clearly illustrate the dilemmas that often face those in decision-making capacities

                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.

                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.



1. The main text for the course is: Charles W. Kegley, Jr., World Politics: Trends and Transformation, 11th ed., New York: St. Martin's Press, 2006. Copies of the text are available for purchase at the University and Village Common bookstores. Readings from the text are assigned in the Class Schedule.


2. Students are required to monitor the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) internet site (http://www.csmonitor.com/) throughout the week. Despite its name, the CSM is not primarily a religious newspaper. To the contrary, 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 can be made available if so desired. Delivery is by mail. Discussions of current events in international relations will be held during the first 10-15 minutes of class every Monday. 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, very well may appear on the examinations.


Writing Assignments:

                Each student is required to write two case briefs of no more than five pages. In the brief the student will be graded on his/her ability to complete the following tasks. First, identify the decision problem or dilemma faced and a specific decision-maker who must resolve the dilemma. Second, what are the decision-maker's objectives, and what relative importance do his/her objectives hold for the decision-maker? Third, what logical alternatives might the decision-maker employ to pursue his/her objectives? Finally, assess how well the alternatives you proposed meet these objectives and select the best alternative. (Keep in mind that the best alternative was not necessarily the one actually selected by the decision-maker.) You will be graded not on the alternative you select, but on how well you complete these tasks.

                Case briefs are due at the beginning of the class session in which the case is discussed. (Case discussions may be postponed, but will never occur prior to the scheduled date.) Late briefs will be downgraded 1/3 letter grade for each weekday that they are 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 are strongly encouraged to begin their papers early. Two briefs must be submitted in order to pass the course. Each brief is worth 20% of your semester grade.



                Participation is an important part of this course, and as such is required of all students. Participation grades will include attendance and participation in class discussions. Students who miss any more than 5 classes total, for whatever reason outside of verifiably debilitating personal illness, or a verifiable death in the family-will be automatically failed for the 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 form 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 direct quotes. 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.

                The papers should be written in normal term paper style. Footnotes must appear either at the bottom of the page, in the text, or at the end of the paper, and a bibliography is required. Use one of the formats given below for both Footnotes and bibliography. Although primary consideration in evaluating the paper will be placed on content and the logic of the arguments, presentation (including spelling, grammar, and correct word use) will also be considered.



                There will be two examinations, a mid-term and a final. Each examination will be worth 20% of the semester grade. The mid-term examination will be held on October 8, and will cover all course materials and readings covered to that date, unless otherwise indicated. The final examination will be held on December 8 from 8-9:15 AM. Those who have a conflict, must make alternative arrangements with me by November 12 at the end of class.



                                30% mid-term examination

                                30% final examination

                                15% first course brief

                                15% second course brief

                                10% participation.











Week 1

Introduction to Theories of International Relations

Chapters 1, 2

Week 2 and 3


Chapters 6, 14

Week 3 and 4


Chapters 4, 13

Week 4

Constructivism, Behavioralism & Post-behavioralism

Week 5 and 6

Neorealism, Neoliberalism and Other Critiques of IR Theory

Chapters 7, 8

Values vs Interests: The US Response to Tiananmen Square-Pew 170

Week 6 and 7

The Levels of Analysis Problem & Models of International Relations,

Chapter 3

Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs KSG c14-80-279

October 13

Midterm Exam

Week 8

The UN & International Organizations

pp. 168-194, 547-554

     Operation Restore Hope: The Bush Administration and Somalia-Pew 463

Week 9

Ethnicity and Nationalism

pp. 131-147 and pp. 196-206

Watershed in Rawnda-Pew Case 374

***First Case Study Due Friday of Week 9

Week 10


pp. 420-439

Seeking the Extradition of Mohammed Rashid-KSG Case-16-90-982.0

Week 11

Development and Aid

pp. 168-194 and 300-332

Debt-for-Nature: Solution or Imperialism-Pew Case 454

Week 12


Chapter 10

Development Strategies in Conflict-Pew Case 501

Week 13


Schmitter & Karl, “What Democracy Is and Is Not,” Journal of Democracy Vol. 2(3), Summer 1991.

Democracy and Islam in Arab Politics-Pew Case 611

Weeks 14 and 15

The Use of Force, Weapons of Mass Destruction & Nuclear Proliferation

Chapter 12, 13

Atomic Diplomacy in the Korean War-Pew Case 359

Second Case Study Due Friday of Week 14

Wednesday December 13

Final Exam-10:00-11:50