POLS 285: Problems of International Relations
Department of Political Science
Instructor: Faon C. Carpenter
Class Time: MWF 10-10:50 am
Classroom: DU 459
Office: DU 476 Office Hours: Wed. 1-2:50 pm (or by appointment)
Examination of contemporary world problems with respect to the concepts of conflict and resolution, the study of current trends in the international system relating to the roles of international law, organization, theory, and integration in international relations.
This introductory course in international relations has three basic objectives. First, the basic theories and concepts generally used to study international relations will be introduced. Several competing theories (realism, liberalism, behavioralism, etc.) as well as models (on individual, group, social, and national levels) shape the way in which this field is studied, and these concepts become the basic tools that students of international relations can use to understand the problems and outcomes present in the world’s political system.
This idea brings us to the second objective of this course: to examine problems and decisions that face the international system today. This objective will be addressed in two ways beyond the traditional lecture format. First, weekly discussions and journal submissions of prominent news stories will allow students to relate the theories and concepts addressed in the class to current events. Second, throughout the semester students will read several case studies presenting specific international issues and resulting decisions. The case studies are discussed in greater detail below.
The third objective is to utilize the theories and models learned in during the early weeks of the semester to analyze some of the world’s most serious problems. These problems include ethnic conflict, terrorism, the global environment, and the divide between the Global North and the Global South. This portion of the course will also help students understand how international problems impact their own lives.
This course is an introductory course and presumes no background knowledge in the study of international relations. However, the course does require students to read the course materials when assigned and to participate regularly in class discussions and exercises.
1. Main Text.
The main text for this course is Charles W. Kegley, Jr. and Eugene R. Wittkopf, World Politics: Trend & Transformation, 9th Edition. Readings from the main text are vital to understanding course concepts and are testable on the exams.
2. Case Study readings and discussions.
Students are required to read each of eleven case studies prior to the day that the case is scheduled to be discussed. In general, cases will be discussed on the Friday of the week that they are assigned, but I will update students with any changes that may occur as the semester progresses. The instructor reserves the right to administer a short quiz prior to case study discussions in order to ensure students have prepared for case discussions prior to class. Quiz grades will be factored into students’ participation grades. Cases will be available on reserve in the library.
3. Journal Responses.
Each Monday students will be expected to turn in one journal response. These submissions will contain analysis of a news story (on international events) from the Christian Science Monitor (CSM). (Despite its name, the CSM is not primarily a religious newspaper, and it is recommended for this class because it has been shown to have the highest percentage of international news of any American newspaper). Online access is free and students will be able to print or read news stories with ease. Alternatively, student subscriptions of the hard copy CSM are relatively inexpensive. See the instructor for further details. Students should be prepared to share the news story they have chosen in class discuss the story’s relevancy to our course.
Students are required to complete one of the following two assignment options.
Option 1: Critical Essay written in the form of a case study due May 2
This option gives students the opportunity to further develop their analytical writing skills. Students should choose a relevant issue in international relations that was brought up during class news discussions. The essay should mirror the format of the cases used in class, identifying 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. The closing paragraph should indicate which alternative the student would recommend the decision maker choose, and why. The essay should be 4-6 full pages in length and follow the paper guidelines
Option 2: In-class presentation of one case study during the week of May 2
This option allows students to develop their oral presentation and critical thinking skills. Students will choose an international relations case study that has not been discussed in class, but the case must be approved by the instructor by April 4. The instructor will gladly help students find a case that suits individual interests. Presentations will take place the week of May 2nd in class and will likely be 7-10 minutes each, although the instructor reserves the right to further limit presentation length if this is a popular assignment choice. In the presentation, the student should explain what options were open to the decision maker and why that individual chose their specific course of action. Next, the student should evaluate this choice by explaining how it is related to a specific theory or model discussed in class (for example, one might explain why “The Melian Dialogue” is generally regarded as a realist critique of international relations). The student should also note which option he/she would have chosen.
The instructor recognizes that not all students are as naturally prone to participation in class discussion as others. However, it is asked that students balance their listening and speaking skills with those of other class members. Comments that are not relevant to the ongoing discussion, are disruptive or insensitive to others, or attempt to dominate the discussion will be dealt with in an appropriate manner. Because participation is 10% of the final grade of the course, it is imperative that students take part in discussions and class activities. I prefer students to participate on a voluntary basis, but reserve the right to call on individuals who do not show a strong inclination to participate on their own accord. The participation grade will be a combination of attendance, quantity, and quality of discussion. 5 total classes can be missed before deductions are made, only two of which can be on case discussion days. (In other words, students can only miss two case study discussions before points are deducted from the participation grade.)
There will be three examinations, on February 21, April 4, and May 9. On the exam, students will be responsible for readings, case and news discussions, and lecture. Each exam will be worth 20% of the final grade, and will consist of:
•10 multiple choice questions, each worth 1 point
•10 identification questions, each worth 2 points
•1 essay question, worth 20 points
20% first examination
20% second examination
20% final examination
15% journal submissions
15% final assignment (paper or presentation)
COURSE POLICIES/LOOSE ENDS:
• 5 point deduction for assignments submitted on due date but after 10 am (this policy is designed to discourage tardiness on days assignments are due)
• 10 point (one letter grade) deduction per day
• 1 inch margins
• Times New Roman 12 pt. font or equivalent
• standard citation method (MLA, Chicago, APA, APSR)
• include page numbers
• an analytical, third person voice (avoid the use of me, my, I, we, out, you, etc.)
• carefully proofed & edited- points will be deducted for misuse of spelling, grammar, etc
• papers that are not stapled will not be accepted
Note: Readings are to be completed before the class period for which they are assigned.
Week 1: January 19 & 21
Introduction, Discussion of Syllabus and Assignments
Basic concepts of International Relations
Read Case: “The Melian Dialogue”
Week 2: January 24, 26, 28
Theories of International Relations
Read: Kegley and Wittkopf (KW) Ch 1, 2, 15
Week 3: January 31, February 2 & 6
Read: KW 4 & 14
Read Case: Values Vs Interests: The US Response to Tiananmen Square
Week 4: February 7, 9, 11
Behavioralism and Post-Behavioralism
Neo-Realism, Neoliberalism, and other critiques
Read: KW pp.404-408, Review Chapter 2
Week 5: February 14, 16, 18
Neo-Realism and other critiques con’t
Read Case: The US-Japanese FSX Fighter Agreement Part A
Week 6: February 21, 23, 25
Exam: Monday, February 21
Levels of analysis
Individual level models
Read: KW 3
Week 7: February 28, March 2 & 4
Group level models
Read Case: Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs
Week 8: March 7-11 Spring Break!
Week 9: March 14, 16, 18
Social/National level models
Systems level models
Week 10: March 21, 23, 25
Problems of International Relations
Nationalism & Ethnicity
Read: KW pp 163-173, 424-443
Read Case: Watershed in Rwanda
Week 11: March 28 & 30, April 1
Read: KW 11, 12, 13
Read Case: Seeking the Extradition of Mohammed Rashid
Read Case: US Retaliation for Terrorism
Week 12: April 4, 6
Exam: Monday, April 4
Weapons of Mass Destruction and Nuclear Proliferation
Review KW 14 & 15
Note: There will be no class on Friday, April 8.
Week 13: April 11, 13, 15
Weapons of Mass Destruction and Nuclear Proliferation con’t.
Read Case: Atomic Diplomacy in the Korean War
Read Case: High Seas Satellite Launches
Week 14: April 18, 20, 22
The Global Economy and the Global South
Read: KW 6, 8, 9
Read Case: Debt for Nature Swaps
Week 15: April 25, 27, 29
The Global Environment
Read: KW 10
Read Case: To be announced
Week 16: May 2, 4, 6
Assignments due: May 2
Final Exam: Monday May 9, 10-11:50 am