POLS 285:  INTRODUCTION TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

 

Mr. Scott LaDeur

Office:  DuSable 476

Mailbox:  Zulauf 415

Email:  sladeur@niu.edu

Class Hours:  M, W, F 9-9:50 DuSable 246

Office Hours:  M, W 10:00-11:30 and by appointment

Required Texts: 

Mingst, Karen.  2004.  Essentials of International Relations.  3rd Edition.  Norton:  New York.

 

COURSE OBJECTIVES

 

                Welcome to the dynamic world of international politics!  Our world has never been more interconnected and interrelated than at the current moment.  Events in far-away lands have significant impact on our everyday lives.  From the price of gasoline to our safety in the United States, global events and politics affect our daily lives.  In order to better understand our world and make sense of the events, leaders, organizations and issues which affect our lives in ways we may not even realize, it is important to have a good working knowledge of international relations theory and its application to these important issues.  Therefore this class has three main objectives:

 

                First, to convey in an interesting and meaningful way the main theories of international relations.  These theories highlight important features of the international system and then describe how those features work to create the world we inhabit.  We will examine two main theories of international relations, realism and liberalism, and then use other ideas (constructivism, feminist thought, Global South views) to highlight areas of opacity and question their key assumptions.

 

                Second, this course seeks to apply these theories to a series of significant international issues, organizations and concepts.  I have chosen a few of the most significant:  the United Nations, terrorism, globalization.  As the semester goes on, we will have a chance to work together as a class to select another few topics which are of interest to the class to focus on.  Each of these smaller units will feature two days of background, highlighting the current debate over these issues/organizations.  The last day of each unit will be centered on an outside case study which the class will read and debate in class.

 

                Lastly, this course seeks to develop your critical thinking and writing skills.  The ability to separate, analyze, interpret and organize information and your own thoughts and then clearly and concisely write them down on paper is a key skill in the 21st century.  As such, this class will feature a mid-term and a final exam which will have an essay component.  Additionally, students will be required to complete a 4-6 page paper which will be detailed later in the syllabus.

 

CLASS FORMAT

                Many of you may have little knowledge of international politics and the theories which seek to explain it.  DON’T WORRY!  The class is structured to give you a solid foundation in the main theories of international relations no matter what level of knowledge you have regarding international relations.

                This will be accomplished by a variety of instructional techniques.  Some classes will feature the traditional lecture format.  Case study days are used to encourage student participation, both individually and within assigned student groups.  Furthermore, throughout the semester, students will be asked to search newspapers for news stories which show examples of various international relations theories which are discussed in class.

 

GRADED REQUIREMENTS

                Students are expected to complete five graded requirements.  The first two are examinations; one given on October 3rd and the other during the University determined final examination period on December 8th.  The mid-term and final exam will feature an identification section where students will be expected to define concepts/vocabulary words and then detail how they relate to various theories of international relations.  The second section will be composed of an essay question where students will be required to organize their knowledge and present it in a clear and grammatically correct fashion.  The mid-term will count for 25% of the final course grade and the final exam will count for 30%.  Both examinations must be completed in order to achieve a passing grade in this class. 

                The third requirement will be a 4-6 page paper in which the student takes a single newspaper article and analyzes it with the use of one of the major theories of international relations discussed in class.  These short papers should not be a simple summarization of the article, but rather a thoughtful dissection of the article using the concepts, key assumptions, core values and beliefs of the major theories discussed in class.  Students will be well advised to speak with the instructor before selecting their article, although this is not required.  Students should use articles from either the New York Times (www.nytimes.com) or the Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com).  All papers must be typed and submitted as a hard copy with the original article attached.  I will not accept papers via e-mail.  This paper is worth 20% of your final grade.  This paper is due on or before October 31st. 

                The fourth graded requirement is a current events journal containing ten newspaper articles and an eight to ten sentence analysis of each.  Please do not summarize the article.  For instance, journal entries can tie an article to a course reading, draw a connection to a theory or concept discussed on class, relate its significance to a present or future policy, convey how a policy maker should address the issue, or share a general opinion. Regardless of the approach, make certain the paragraph is well constructed and includes independent thinking (rather than merely a restatement of the article). All journal entries should be typed and representative of the entire semester rather than simply the last weeks of the semester. The final journal can be assembled any way the student chooses as long as the guidelines (discussed above) are followed.  All papers must be submitted as a hard copy.  I will not accept papers via e-mail.  The journal is due on or before December 5th.  This journal is worth 20% of the final class grade.

                The fifth and last graded assignment is participation during newspaper discussion days, case study days and during class in general.  Class is going to be very boring if you are forced to listen to me every other day.  Ask questions; get involved!  Participation will be worth 5% of your final grade.  Participation will be graded as follows:

 

A =         regular and thoughtful participation on multiple days

B =          occasional participation, often bunched on only a few days

C =          sporadic participation

D =         little to no participation

 

Grades will be awarded on the following scale:

A             90-100

B             80-89

C             70-79

D             60-69

F              59 and below

 

SUMMARY OF GRADED WORK

Mid-Term Exam:  25%

Final Exam:  30%

Term Paper:  20%

Current Events Journal:  20%

Participation:  5%

 

CLASS POLICIES AND OTHER LOOSE ENDS

 

Makeup Exams:  Makeup exams will only be given in extraordinary circumstances.  If such circumstances arise, please contact the instructor as soon as possible and before the scheduled exam. To keep the process fair for everyone in the course, students may be asked to support requests for makeup exams with documentation. A missed examination without prior notification and a documented excuse will result in a zero and a course grade of “F” as opposed to an incomplete.

 

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 for which they may require accommodations should notify the University's Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR). 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.

 

Late Assignments:  For every day an assignment is late, you lose ten points.  Please turn assignments in on time.

 

Submitting Written Work:  There are three ways in which you can submit your work:  during class, during my office hours and to the departmental secretary in Zulauf 415.  If you choose to submit your work to the secretary, please ask her to timestamp your work so I know when it was submitted.  I will not accept written work in any other form (under my office door, in my mailbox, via e-mail, through the mail, etc.) except in extraordinary circumstances. 

 

Handouts/Notes:  Handouts and PowerPoint slides (when applicable) will be posted on Blackboard for all students.  It is my intention to post my PowerPoint slides (if I plan on using them on a particular day) on Blackboard the day before class.  I suggest that students print a copy of these slides prior to coming to class so you can take notes.  Relying on the PowerPoint slides alone will not give you enough information to do well in the class.  These are meant to be an aid to the notes you will take in class.  If you miss class, please get the notes from your classmates.  You may have to wash their car, but it is worth it!

 

Attendance:  I will take attendance at every class session but it will not count towards your final grade.  This is not a reflection of my beliefs on the importance of attendance but rather an attempt by your instructor to get rid of the gray area around “excused” and “unexcused” absences.  I don’t want to deal with doctor’s notes/parent’s notes/funeral cards anymore.  If you absolutely have to miss class—fine.  Get the notes from your classmates and see me if you have any questions.  You are all adults now and are responsible for getting to class.  However, if you are not doing well and you tell me you don’t understand why, the first thing I will do is go over your attendance record.  Students who must miss class for religious observances are encouraged to notify the instructor prior to missing class.

 

Classroom Etiquette:  Students are to arrive at class on time.  Students are to remain for the entire session unless excused by the professor beforehand or confronted with a serious personal emergency. For instance, 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. Cell phones, pagers, or any electronic devices that make noise must be turned to vibrate during class unless the instructor has been notified beforehand of a special circumstance (e.g., sick family member, pregnant wife, special childcare situation, etc.). It is not acceptable to use an iPod, read a newspaper, use a laptop for anything other than taking class notes, or engage in other behavior that distracts one from the class proceedings once the session has begun. No one should talk while someone else is talking; this includes comments meant for a classmate rather than the entire group. What may seem like a whisper or a harmless remark to one person can be a distraction to someone else. Overall, classroom dialogue and behavior should always be courteous, respectful of others, and consistent with the expectations set forth by the university.

 

Incomplete Requests: Such requests will be granted only in extraordinary circumstances. The instructor reserves the right to ask for documentation to verify the problem preventing completion of the course by the normal deadlines. If the student does not present documentation from a medical, university office or official, the matter will be left to the instructor’s discretion.

 

Academic Dishonesty: Regarding plagiarism, the NIU Undergraduate Catalog states: “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.” The above statement encompasses the purchase or use of papers that were written by others.  If you cheat, I will catch you.  Ignorance is not an excuse.  In short, students are advised to do their own work and learn the rules for proper quoting, paraphrasing, and footnoting.  A good source for this is the NIU English Department’s Online Tutorial regarding Academic Integrity at:  http://www.ai.niu.edu/ai/

                        

Class Participation: I recognize class discussion comes more easily for some people than for others. By temperament or habit, some individuals are “talkers” while others are “listeners.” Learning to be both is an important subsidiary goal of this course.  Comments that are not relevant to the ongoing discussion and off the point will not be rewarded. Remarks that are disruptive to the discussion, insensitive to others, or attempt to dominate the discussion will not be tolerated. I strongly prefer students to participate on a voluntary basis. If you are particularly apprehensive about talking in class, or feel closed out of the discussion for another reason, please speak with me. There are some things I can suggest that may be helpful. Remember: communication skills and self-confidence are extremely important assets in the professional world. Thus it is better to develop these things in the collegial environment of this class rather than under more difficult circumstances later in life.

 

Unannounced Quizzes: The instructor reserves the right to conduct pop quizzes (in addition to the case study quizzes), if it becomes grossly apparent through class discussions that students are not completing the assigned readings on a regular basis.  If such quizzes are administered, they will be averaged and used to raise or lower a student’s final course grade by a half a letter grade. Whether a particular student’s grade is adjusted positively or negatively will be dependent on a class average. It will not be done capriciously.

 

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 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.

                                                                                                                                 

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, internship opportunities, information regarding political science activities, awards and scholarships, exploring graduate study, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to: http://www.niu.edu/polisci/

 

Blackboard:  Many reading materials, links, copies of the syllabus and updates throughout the semester are available on this course’s Blackboard page.  If you are unfamiliar with Blackboard, please see the instructor for information.  In order to login to Blackboard, you will need your NIU Z-ID number and password.  Blackboard is available at:  https://webcourses.niu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp

 

How to contact me:  The best way to contact me is to drop by during office hours.  If you cannot see me during my office hours, please email me at sladeur@niu.edu.  I will be happy to set up an appointment at a better time or answer quick questions over email.  I check my email often, but please do not expect an instant response.

 

Class Cancellations:  I do not anticipate needing to cancel class this semester for any reason.  However, if I am more than ten minutes late, class is automatically cancelled.  Please check Blackboard for an announcement. 

 

 

IMPORTANT DATES

September 26th:  Mid-Term Review Sheets handed out

October 3th:  Mid-Term Exam

October 31st:  Term Paper Due

December 3rd:  Final Exam Review Sheet handed out

December 5th:  Current Events Journal Due

December 10th @8 AM:  Final Exam

 

COURSE SCHEDULE AND READING ASSIGNMENTS

***Instructor reserves the right to alter the schedule with proper notice***

 

SECTION ONE--INTRODUCTION

 

August 25- Introduction, syllabus, class policies, expectations and course goals

 

August 27—Lessons of the cube, the uses of theory, handout on what America means to you, deriving core values

 

 August 29—Competing Frames of Reference

READING ASSIGNMENT:  The Melian Dialogue:  http://www.nku.edu/~weirk/ir/melian.html

 

 September 1--NO CLASS—LABOR DAY

 

SECTION TWO—THEORIES OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

 

September 3- Levels of Analysis in International Relations

READING ASSIGNMENT:  Mingst, pages 59-61

 

 September 5—International Relations from a Realist Perspective

READING ASSIGNMENT:  Mingst 65-71, 101-103 (The State and the Nation), 106 (Realist View of the State)

 

September 8—Realism II

 

 September 10—Realism III

 

 September 12—Realism IV

READING ASSIGNMENT:  Mingst, pages 83-84, 86-94, 191-192, 224-228

 

 September 15— Realism V

Newspaper discussion day—try to find a newspaper article which shows an example of realism.

 

 September 17—Case Study Day:  China’s Rise

READING ASSIGNMENT:  “Is China’s Rise Threatening the U.S.?”  This reading can be found on Blackboard.

 

 September 19—International Relations from a Liberal Perspective

READING ASSIGNMENT:  President Wilson’s Speech to Congress (1917) available at http://net.lib.byu.edu/~rdh7/wwi/1917/wilswarm.html

 

Declaration of Independence.  Available at http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/

 

Mingst, pages 62-65, 84-86, 105-106

 

September 22—Liberalism II

 

 September 24- Liberalism III

READING ASSIGNMENT:  Mingst, pages 159-190

 

September 26-Liberalism IV

Mid-Term Review Sheet Distributed

Newspaper discussion day—try to find a newspaper article which shows an example of liberalism.

 

September 29- Liberalism Case Study:  “Should Promoting Democracy abroad be a top U.S. priority?”  Reading available on Blackboard.

 

October 1- Wrap up and review for Mid-term

 

October 3-   MID TERM EXAMINATION

 

October 6- Alternative Theories—Global South/Marxist Views

READING ASSIGNMENT:  Mingst, pages 71-74

 

October 8- Alternative Theories—Feminist Theories 

READING ASSIGNMENT:  TBD

 

October 10- Alternative Theories-Constructivism

READING ASSIGNMENT:  Mingst, pages 74-76

 

SECTION THREE--INTERNATIONAL ACTORS AND ISSUES

October 13—The United Nations I

READING ASSIGNMENT:  Mingst, 167-180

 

October 15—The UN II

 

October 17—Case Study on UN

LAST DAY TO WITHDRAW FROM THE COURSE

 

October 20--The World Trade Organization, World Bank, International Monetary Fund

READING ASSIGNMENT:  Mingst, 256-264

 

October 22—The WTO, IMF and World Bank II

 

October 24—Case Study involving World Trade Organization

 

October 27—Terrorism I

READING ASSIGNMENT:  Mingst 212-216

 

October 29—Terrorism II

 

October 31—Case Study involving Terrorism

TERM PAPER DUE

 

November 3—Globalization I

 

November 5—Gobalization II

 

November 7—Case Study involving Globalization

 

November 10-  Issue/Actor TBA

 

November 12- Issue/Actor TBA

 

November 14- Issue/Actor TBA

 

November 17—Issue/Actor TBA

 

November 19—Issue/Actor TBA

 

November 21—Issue/Actor TBA

 

November 24—Issue/Actor TBA

 

November 26  NO CLASS—THANKSGIVING BREAK

 

November 28  NO CLASS—THANKSGIVING BREAK

 

December 1—Wrap up and catch up/summary

 

December 3—Wrap up and catch up/summary

FINAL EXAM REVIEW SHEET HANDED OUT

 

December 5-Review for Final Exam

CURRENT EVENTS JOURNALS DUE

 

December 10:  FINAL EXAM AT 8 AM!!!!