Course Offerings

POLS 497: The Future of American Hegemony and Western Civilization

Since the end of the Cold War, a new era of American hegemony has prevailed. Yet, unlike President Bush Sr. predicted after the Berlin Wall fell, Pax Americana has not been an era of unchallenged peace and prosperity internationally. While Western liberal democracy won the ideological war against communism, it seems that new challengers have emerged. In this short course, we will investigate two influential accounts of current and future world politics, both of which pay particular attention to the place of Western civilization on the world scene. We will be reading Samuel Huntington’s "Clash of Civilizations" and Francis Fukuyama’s "The End of History and the Last Man."

These two thinkers give provocative accounts of the sources of peace and conflict, and aim to predict the fate of humanity on a broad scale. Fukuyama believes that Western civilization, in the form of liberal democracy, represents the culmination of a discernible historical process, which will eventually put an end to major strife and wars, while Huntington believes that we are on the verge of a great battle among civilizations. History, in Huntington’s telling, has nowhere near resolved the fundamental tensions among human beings. We will consider their opposing accounts in light of their philosophical underpinnings and with current international developments in mind. Which of these two accounts, if either, is correct?