Introduction to International Relations

POLS 285-1/ Fall 2007/ 10:00-10:50 MWF


Class Information


Class Time: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:00-10:50 a.m.

Location: DU 461

Instructor: Andrea Mathie (I am listed departmentally as Andrea Messing-Mathie)

: 630-915-8740 (Please use email whenever possible)        

Office: Zulauf 402     

Office Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 11:00-12:00 p.m. and by appointment (please visit-I get lonely!)  

  e-mail: (expect an e-mail response usually within 24-48 hours, except on weekends)


Why are you here?


Welcome! International relations are ever-changing, ever-evolving, and dramatic events change the landscape of the political world within which the United States and you as individual actors interact. In order to understand the effect of issues such as globalization, terrorism, weapons of mass destructions, global warming, and ethnic conflict on the global and therefore the domestic political agenda, it is vital to engage in intelligent study of the international political system. So, in light of this, the course has 1 overarching objective and 3 primary secondary objectives.


First, the overarching objective is to get you excited about your connection to the world around you and why studying political science and specifically international relations is so important to understanding the kind of global community that we all live in.


Second, as an introductory course, I will strive to provide everyone with a basic understanding of the theories and models that are used to analyze and explain international relations. Because the field of international relations remains divided, students will be exposed to a range of competing theories. Remember, these are theories that have been created by leading political science scholars in order to explain events, especially those of WWII and beyond that defied any kind of general explanation. Theories are not reality-real life happens with or without theories-but it is our job as political scientists to attempt to explain real events in such a way that an explanation over what has happened in one part of the world has some applicability elsewhere. We will be looking at models for analyzing international relations, and will be learning the basic terms and concepts that are used in international relations.


Third, I want you to be able to use these theories, models, terms and concepts that are learned in the course in order to analyze some of the most pressing international problems that are now facing our global system. With each of the topics students will be asked to read a short case that presents a specific international decision that was made to deal with the issue. You will be asked to remake these decisions in class as part of a small group case discussion or case simulation. We will also be discussing world events in our in class and online discussions based on our reading of the Christian Science Monitor.


Finally, I want you to be able to develop your analytical skills and develop your abilities to think and argue logically both orally and in writing. In addition to the immense significance of the issues that we will discuss in class, the greatest benefit that the course will hopefully give will be to provide individual students opportunities to logically consider international issues and to present their opinions intelligently. Toward this end this course will use a variety of highly participatory teaching methods including: discussion of Christian Science Monitor articles, issues from lectures, and case studies.


What am I expecting of you?



1) In order to provide you with the most comprehensive reading list possible, rather than assigning you a textbook, I have chosen to put together an electronic course packet for you to use. Not only will this ultimately save you the cost of purchasing a textbook, it will allow us to fine tune our readings to our lessons. All of our course readings will be on our course URL site and you will be responsible for printing out and reading the assigned material before the beginning of the class date assigned. You will find the reading list in our course calendar.

2) Case study learning is an effective and interactive way to learn about specific political situations and circumstances, which will allow for direct application of the information that we are learning in class.  We will be conducting our case studies on Friday, which will allow for sufficient time throughout the week to thoroughly read the case study in question. The case studies are available at the bookstore for sale or at the reserve desk at the library, where you can make copies. I am unable to post the case studies electronically, due to copyright restrictions. You must read the case studies by the assigned date, as it is essential to in class participation (and you may be quizzed).


3) Current Events Readings:  You will be required to subscribe to the Christian Science Monitor, either in paper version, or online. Despite its name, the CSM is not primarily a religious newspaper; rather, it is one of the most respected international papers and thought to have some of the most balanced reporting of any major paper. Moreover, the CSM has been shown to have the highest percentage of international news of any major American newspaper. The CSM offers students a special three-month introductory rate. Subscription forms will be available during the first 2 class sessions, and delivery is by mail. You may also read the electronic version at However, I must warn you that the CSM only keeps 5 days worth of issues, and you must pay to access anything beyond this.



1) Journal groups: You will be assigned to a journal group for the first half of the semester and then a new group for the second half. Your journal group will be the group that you do case studies with and discuss current events with in your online discussion groups. You are required to make at least one posting per week in order to receive at least a B in this portion of the course. Your participation in these groups will be worth 5% of your grade.

2) Journals: You are required to submit 2 journals, one on September 28th, and the other on Nov. 21st. I will be providing a detailed description as well as examples of what I am looking for within the first week. Journal 1 must have 7 entries and Journal 2 must have 8 entries. Each journal will be worth 10% of your grade.

3) Quizzes: I will be quizzing throughout the semester on case studies and/or reading assignments. You can expect anywhere from 12-15 quizzes, depending on the level of class participation and comprehension. Of these quizzes, the lowest 2 will be dropped at the end of the semester; therefore, makeup quizzes will not be allowed. The quizzes will be worth 10% of your grade.

4) Class participation: Because this is an interactive learning environment, you are required to participate in class and in case study group sessions. Class participation in conjunction with attendance will be worth 5% of your grade.

5) Paper: You will be required to write your own case study at the end of the semester. You will begin to get an idea of what I am looking for after we have done a few case studies in class, and I will be providing you with detailed instructions on how to complete this assignment. You will also have some extra credit opportunities for your paper. The paper is due Friday Nov. 30th and is worth 15% of your grade.


Exam 1: (Midterm)      10/15/2007                                          25% of your grade

Exam 2 (Final):            12/10/2007      10:00-11:50 am          25% of your grade    

  (Alternate date to be announced)


Course Grading Breakdown:


Exam 1: 20%

Exam 2: 25%

Journal 1: 10%

Journal 2: 10%

Quizzes: 10%

Paper: 15%

Online journal group participation: 5%

Participation (and attendance): 5%




Some Final Thoughts:


Attendance: As you are all adults, it is expected that you will come to class whenever possible. Your grade will be negatively affected if you miss too much class, simply by virtue of having missed an important lesson and information. I will be taking attendance for my purposes only, as it will be counted only as part of your participation grade. (Clearly, if you are not in class, you cannot participate!) It is up to you to decide when it is appropriate for you to miss class.


Extra Credit: Extra Credit opportunities will be announced during the semester. Absolutely no extra credit will be awarded on an individual basis, but there will be opportunities for extra credit points to be earned.


Classroom Etiquette: It is vital that you arrive at class on time. You should remain in the classroom for the entire session unless you are excused by me beforehand. You should use your best judgment on this. It is not acceptable for students to walk in and out of class to answer cell phones, take casual bathroom and smoking breaks, or attend to other personal matters. It is also not acceptable to read the newspaper during class or to listen to any listening device.  Cell phones, pagers, or any electronic devices that make noise must be turned off during class unless the instructor has been notified beforehand of a special circumstance (e.g., sick family member, pregnant wife, special childcare situation, etc.). No one should talk while someone else is talking; this includes comments meant for a classmate rather than the entire group. Overall, classroom dialogue and behavior should always be courteous, respectful of others, and consistent with the expectations set forth by the university.


Plagiarism: 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 as 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, BE CAREFUL! If you think that you might be plagiarizing, you probably are, and feel free to come to me at any time for advice or assistance. All ideas that are not your own must be cited (via footnotes). We will cover this in more detail during a class session.


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.


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.


Website: Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science website 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







Course Calendar and Tentative Course Schedule:


Week 1:

8/27: Introduction to course

8/29: Introduction to theories of IR

8/31: Case Study: Melian Dialogue


Week 2:

9/3: No class-Labor Day

9/5: Begin Liberalism and Realism

9/7: cont. Liberalism and Realism

            Read:  Doyle, Michael W. "Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs". pgs.           83-91. (on course electronic         reserve)


Week 3:

9/10: cont. Liberalism and Realism

            Read: Morgenthau, Hans J. "Power and Principle in Statecraft".pgs. 7-14. (on           course electronic reserve)

9/12: news discussion/ continue realism and liberalism

9/14: Case Study: One Rock, Two Principles: The Gribraltar Problem (Case 281)


Week 4:

9/17: Constructivism, Behavioralism, Post-Behaviorlism

            Read: Wendt, Alexander. "Anarchy is What States Make of It". pgs. 61-68. (on        course electronic reserve)

9/19: news discussion/ continue

9/21: Feminist critique of IR Theory

            Read: J. Ann Tickner. "You Just Don't Understand: Troubled Engagements   Between Feminists and IR             Theorists". pgs. 623-632 only. AND

            Tickner, J. Ann. "A Critique of Morgenthau's Principles of Political Realism." pgs.    15-25. (on course             electronic reserve)


Week 5:

9/24: Levels of Analysis

            Read: tba

9/26: news discussion/ cont.

9/28: Case Study: Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs (KSG c14-80-279)

1st Journal Due in class


Week 6:

10/1: Levels of Analysis and Models
            Read: tba

10/3: Levels of Analysis and Models (cont.)

10/5: Video on Tiananmen Square


Week 7:

10/8: Case Study: Values vs. Interests: The US response to Tianammen Square (Pew 170)

10/10: news discussion/levels and models

10/12: Midterm wrap up


Week 8:

10/15: Midterm Exam

10/17: Problems of IR: The UN and International Organizations

10/19: Continue

            Read:  Hoffmann, Stanley. "The Uses and Limits of International Law". pgs. 114-    118.

            Keohane, Robert O. "International Institutions: Can Interdependence Work?" pgs.     119-126.

            Roberts, Adam. "The United Nations and International Security." pgs. 127-135.



Week 9:

10/22: Problems of IR: Globalization and Interdependence

            Read: tba

10/24: news discussion/ continue

10/26: Case Study: American Diplomatic Response to the 1973-1974 Energy Crisis (Pew 148-94-R)


Week 10:

10/29: Problems of IR: Ethnicity and Nationalism

            Read: tba

10/31: news discussion/ continue

11/2: Case Study: Watershed in Rwanda: The Evolution of President Crinton's Response (Pew 374-96-N)


Week 11:

11/5: Problems of IR: Democratization and the Middle East

            Read: tba

11/7: news discussion/ continue

11/9: Case Study: Democracy and Islam in Arab Politics (Pew 611-95-N)


Week 12:

11/12: Problems of IR: Terrorism

            Read: tba

11/14: news discussion/ cont.

11/16: Case Study: One American Military Retaliation for Terrorism (Case 238 )


Week 13:

11/19: Terrorism cont.

11/21: video on Terrorism/ news discussion

2nd Journal due in class

11/23: No class, Thanksgiving


Week 14:

11/26: Problems of IR: Political Economy

            Read: tba

11/28: news discussion/continue

11/30: Case Study: tba

Paper due in class


Week 15:

12/3: Other Problems of IR

            Read: tba

12/5: wrap up lecture/ How does it all fit together

12/7: small group study session


12/10: Midterm Exam            10:00-11:50