Political Science                                                                                                          POLS 285-2

Problems of International Relations

Spring 2006


Class time


Tuesday & Thursday 3:30 - 4: 45 PM, 246 Dusable



Laman Rzayeva

Office address


476 Dusable

Office phone



Office hours


Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:30 – 3:30 PM and by appointment





Course description.

 Welcome to the ever-changing field of international relations. The world changed dramatically during the previous decade. The Soviet Union was replaced by fifteen new states; the ideological and military divide that once dominated analysis of international relations dissipated. Democracy and capitalism spread to dozens of new states. The communications revolution eroded states’ ability to control of information and ideas. Even the homogenous Third World, now called the Global South, has lost meaning in the new millennium. New issues such as terrorism, AIDS, proliferation of WMD, and the Green house effect have risen to the top of the global agenda. 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 divide field, students will be introduced to a number of competing world views including realism, liberal idealism, behavioralism and neoliberalism. 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. Each of these approaches emphasizes a different determinant of international relations (e.g., perception, rationality or 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, nuclear proliferation and trade conflict. With each of these units students will be asked to read a short case that presents a specific international decision that was made to deal with the issue. Students will be required to remake these decisions in class as part of a small group case discussion or a class simulation. Other issues will be discussed as they arise on the pages of the newspapers, which will be discussed in the class.

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. Toward this end the course employs a number of highly participatory teaching methods including: class discussions, news discussions and case debates.


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.



Required Readings

1. Charles W. Kegley, Jr. and Eugene R. Wittkopf. 2005. World Politics: Trends and Transformation, (10th edn., New York: Thomson & Wadsworth). [hereinafter mentioned as “World Politics”]

This will be main text of this course. Copies of this book are available for purchase at the University and Village Common bookstores.  Readings from the text are assigned in the Class Schedule (see below).


2. Richard K. Betts (ed.)  2005. Conflict After the Cold War. Arguments  on Causes of War and Peace. (Pearson Longman). [hereinafter mentioned as “Conflict after the Cold War”]

This book will be used for the written assignments (for details see section on written assignments). Copies of this book are also available for purchase at the University and Village Common bookstores. 


3. Case studies.

Case studies will be assigned for various topics covered in the class (for details see Class Schedule). The majority of the cases are also available at the bookstores. Some cases are not available in the bookstore!  While copyright laws prohibit the combining of these cases into a course package, students may make copies of these cases for their individual use. (One copy of every case will be available in the Reserve Room of the Library). 


4. Either Christian Science Monitor (CSM) OR New York Times (NYT). Despite its name, the CSM is not primarily a religious newspaper. Studies show that the CSM has the highest percentage of international news of any American newspaper. Students are encouraged to read print version of these newspapers. However, their electronic versions are also available: for CSM it is www.csmonitor.com and for New York Times it is www.nytimes.com



Discussions of current events in international relations will be held during the first 10-15 minutes of class every Tuesday. Students are expected to have read the CSM or NYT prior to coming to class and may be called upon to discuss articles that they have read. Also, material discussed in class will appear on the examinations.


Students are required to read assigned material (be it chapters from the text book, case studies or news)  "prior to" the day that when these readings are assigned in the Class Schedule


5. Lectures.

Lectures overlap but not exactly coincide with material covered in the books and case studies. Students are strongly encouraged to take notes during the class and to ask questions. Lecture notes will be available online (web link will be given in the class).  Exams will cover material from text book, case studies and lectures.


Writing Assignments.


Journal of Problems of International Relations

To maintain the journal each week each student should pick up two articles from either CSM or NYT about any international problem. Then for each of these articles student should write a journal entry composed of a summary (maximum half-double spaced page) and a commentary (maximum half-double spaced page) where student should provide his or he analysis of the event / problem covered in that article. For example, but not limited to, student should write about he or she found that news interesting, what kind of problem is it, what are goals and objective actors have, what kind of solution is proposed, to which other events and developments that event/problem can be related, what kind of implications for future does it have, which of the theories of IR would be dealing with this issue or would better explain that issue OR what is basic argument of the journalist, does journalist support his or her argument by sufficient evidence, does student agree or disagree with journalist and why.


In total, each journal entry should be approximately one double-spaced page long. Each journal entry should also have full reference to the source of the news (otherwise your journal will be downgraded). Here are examples of different formatting patterns in which it can be done:

Wingfield, Nick. "Unraveling the Mysteries Inside Web Shoppers Minds." Wall Street Journal 18 June 1998, East. ed.: B6+.


William S. Niederkorn, “A Scholar Recants on His ‘Shakespeare’ Discovery,” New York Times, June 20, 2002, Arts section, Midwest edition.



Journal composed of 20 entries should be submitted on April 11, 2006. Each journal entry will be given 1 point for proper entry and 0.5 point for insufficient entry, with total possible 20 points. Late journals will be downgraded (five points will be extracted for each day of delay).  Journal grade will be counted as 15 percent of your total grade.


Journal should contain two entries from each of the following weeks:

Week 1: Jan 23  -  Jan 29

Week 2: Jan 30 – Feb 5

Week 3: Feb 6 – Feb 12

Week 4: Feb 13 – Feb 19

Week 5: Feb 20  - Feb 26

Week 6: Feb 27 – Mar 5

Week 7: Mar 6 – Mar 12

Week 8: Mar 13 – Mar 18

Week 9: Mar 27 – Apr 2 OR Mar 19 – Mar 26

Week 10: Apr 3 – Apr 9 OR Mar 27 – Apr 2


First Short Paper.

For the first short paper students will write an analytical paper on one chapter from the “Conflict after the Cold War” book (any chapter from this book except some chapters – will be explained in the class).

In this paper students will be required to provide answers to the following questions:

1)      Which of the problems of the international relations that chapter is dealing with?

2)      At what level of analysis is it written and why do you think so?

3)      What are major factors used to explain that problem?

4)      What is major argument of the chapter (in regard to the international problem with which it is dealing and why?)?

5)      Which evidence is used to support that argument, does student find this argument  convincing and evidence provided sufficient? Why?


Thus, this paper is not summary of the assigned book chapter, but is its analytical reading in regard to the topics covered in the course. Paper should represent a whole rather than be divided into sections dealing with each of these questions. Paper should be 5-6 double-spaced pages long.


First paper will be worth 10 percent of your total grade. Consequently, answer to each of the above questions will be worth 2 points/percent. First short paper (as well as the second one) is due on April 20, 2006. Later papers will be downgraded (5 points will be extracted for each day of delay).



Second Short Paper.

For the second short paper students will write a paper on any current international problem. For that purposed students are required to use two of any international news articles from the CSM OR NYT  and two additional academic sources. Students can benefit from the “Conflict after the Cold War” for the theoretical analysis of the international problem. Students can benefit from the NIU Library’s web page on political science databases for the empirical data for the international problem of their interest: http://www.niulib.niu.edu:2450/polisci.cfm. Among them, Academic Univserse has a collection searchable articles from many news resources: http://www.niulib.niu.edu:2453/universe . Jstore, Muse Project, ArticleFirst data bases also have rich databases of the full text journal articles on various subjects.


In their paper students will be required to provide answers to the following questions:

1)      What is an international problem your paper is dealing with? Why is it important? Which actors are involved in this problem?

2)      For this paper student should select one of the actors involved and analyze this problem only from the perspective of that selected actor. That is why it should be clearly states which actor is selected, why is he/she/state/international organization/group is selected?

3)      What are goals and objectives of this actor in regard to this problem?

4)      What are at least two alternatives, which that actor has in order to solve that problem, and what are potential advantages and disadvantages of each of these alternatives (to the actor for the solution of that problem).

5)      Which alternative the student would recommend and why? Which of the theories of the international relations can explain behavior of the actor or the whole pattern of the conflict?


Paper should represent a whole rather than be divided into sections dealing with each of these questions. Second paper should be 5 – 6 double-spaced pages in total and should be properly cited. Citations must appear either at the bottom of the page, in the text, or at the end of the paper.  A bibliography is required. Not properly cited papers will be downgraded. For help with citation formats please visit the following web sites:

http://www.liunet.edu/cwis/cwp/library/workshop/citation.htm excellent guide to different citation styles with examples.

http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/legacylib/mlahcc.html MLA citation style

http://library.osu.edu/sites/guides/chicagogd.html Chicago Manual of style


Second will be worth  15 percent of your total grade. Second short paper (as well as the first one) is due on April 20, 2006. Late papers will be downgraded (5 points will be extracted for each day of delay).


Extra points.


Extra points are points, which will be added to the total exam grade points for various assignments (if assignment is before midterm exam, their total points will be added to the total midterm exam points, if assignment is after midterm, their total points will be added to the total final exam points). Extra points will allow students to be rewarded for the extra work for this class.


Extra points will be composed of the quiz points (quizzes will be given in the class either for news or for the case studies on any days without prior notification) and of the points for the short papers on any article from the “Conflict after the Cold War” book in addition to the article chosen for the first short paper. These short papers should be approximately 2-3 double-spaced pages long and should include summary of the book chapter and student’s commentary (what international problem/phenomena is covered in the chapter, which are major actors, which  factors are used to explain this problem/phenomena, at what level of analysis, what is basic argument of the author, which evidence is used to support this argument, does student find argument convincing and why).


Each quiz as well as each short paper will be worth 4 points. Students can submit as much short papers as they want (and as book permits).



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 from 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 quotation marks. 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.






Participation is an important part of this course, and as such is required of all students. The participation grade will comprise 10% of the final grade and is designed to assess both the quantity and quality of each student's participation in this collective learning experience. Participation grades will include attendance, participation in news discussions, participation in cases, and participation in class. Students who miss any more than 4 classes in total will have a deduction taken from their participation grade.


Students who come to the class 15 minutes late and/or leave 15 minutes earlier (without prior notification of instructor) will be considered as absent.


Note: Students who fall asleep for more than 5 minutes will also be considered as absent.



There will be two examinations, a mid-term and a final. Each examination will be worth  25% of the semester grade. The mid-term examination will be held on March 23, 2006, at 3:30 PM, in Dusable, and will include all course materials and readings covered to that date. The final examination will cover only post-midterm material and will be held on Thursday May 11, 2006, from 3:30 to 5:50 PM, in 246 Dusable.


Those who have a schedule conflict, or any other reason not to take the final examination on May 11, should notify instructor about it at least two days in advance (by e-mail or in any other written form). Then they may take the examination on Tuesday May 9, officially from 8 PM to 9:50 PM, in 246 Dusable (but if there are 3 and less students who need to take the final on alternate day, its time can be  changed to earlier). The alternate examination "may be" slightly more difficult.


Each examination will contain:

  • 20 multiple choice questions (each is worth 1 point)
  • 20 points from 10 identification questions (each is worth 3 points)
  • 60 points from 2 essay questions (each is worth 30 points)


Exam study reviews will be available to students one week before each exam.  In addition, review sessions will give students an opportunity to ask all kind of exam-related questions and to clarify issues missed in the previous lectures.







Summary Grading and Due dates:


 Participation = 10 percent of total grade

1st short paper = 10 percent of total grade

2nd short paper = 15 percent of total grade

Journal of International Relations = 15 percent of total grade

Mid-term examination  = 25 percent of total grade

Final examination = 25% of total grade


Midterm –  March 23, 2006

Journals – April 11, 2006

Short papers –April 20, 2006

Final –  May 11, 2006

Alternate Final – May 9, 2006






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 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.


Statement Concerning 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 and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building. 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.


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, 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 http://polisci.niu.edu

LINKS to Relevant Sites:

News Sources:
BBC World News
Chicago Tribune
Christian Science Monitor
CNN Breaking News
The Drudge Report
International Herald Tribune
Itar-Tass News Service (Russia)
Kyodo News (Japan)
The Times  (London)
New York Times
Reuters World News
Washington Post
Washington Times
Xinhua News Service (China)

Terrorism News Sources:
Terrorism Research Center
General Links on Terrorism
US State Department's Office of Counterterrorism
US Department of Defense on Countering Terrorism
EERI Counterterrorism Home Page & Links

Others Links:
The Kennedy School of Government Case Program
Electronic Citation Style Manuals
Evaluating Internet Sources
Bartlett's Quotations

















Course Outline and Due Dates



Tue  Jan 17


Distribution of syllabus and explanation of course requirements.

International relations as an academic discipline: development, major debates, subject of study, level of analysis (pp. 14-16, and 59 in particular).


“World Politics”, Chp. 1.



Thu   Jan 19 CANCELLED



Tue Jan 24


Discussion of current news



This case is available both from the print reserve, as well as from the numerous web sites. For example, see http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/melian.htm, http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/GREECE/MELIAN.HTM, http://www.wellesley.edu/ClassicalStudies/CLCV102/Thucydides--MelianDialogue.html, http://gainsford.tripod.com/melian.htm.



Thu Jan 26



“World Politics”, Chp. 2 (pp 33-38), Chp 15 (pp.  585-583) and chp.13



Tue Jan 31


Discussion of current news


“World Politics” , chpts. 2 (pp 38-40), pages 99-100



Thu Feb 2


Liberal idealism

“World Politics”, chp. 2 (pp. 29-33) and chp.14 (pp. 528-556, 564-567)



Tue Feb 7


Discussion of current news


“World Politics”, chpt. 2 (pp. 40-45).


Thu Feb 9





Tue Feb 14


Discussion of current news

Constructivism and Feminism

“World Politics”, page 43, chpt. 2 (pp. 46-52) and chpt. 7 (pp. 240-244)


Thu Feb 16


Individual Level Models: The Rational-Actor Model of foreign policy decision-making.

Perception . Personality. 

“World Politics”, chp. 3 (pp. 69-77, 86-91), chp.11 (p. 403-406).


Tue Feb 21


Discussion of current news

Group Level models: Organizational Process and Bureaucratic Politics Models of foreign policy decision-making. 

“World Politics”, chpt. 3, pp. 78-86.


Thu Feb 23


Group-level models continued. Groupthink.

“World Politics”, p. 85


Tue Feb 28


Discussion of current news



Thu Mar 2


Nation- and society-level determinants of the international relations.

“World Politics”, pp. 60-68,  pp. 406-413


Tue Mar 7


Discussion of current news

System-level theories of the international relations

“World Politics”, chpt. 11, pp. 413-420


Thu Mar 9


Behavioralism and Post-Behavioralism.

“World Politics”, chpt.2, p. 37


Have a nice break!


Tue Mar 21


Review session


Thu Mar 23


Mid-term examination


Tue Mar 28


Discussion of current news

Ethnicity and ethnic conflict

“World Politics”, chpt. 6 (pp. 196-206), chp. 7 (pp. 223-240), chp. 11 (p. 420-427)


Thu Mar 30




Tue Apr 4


Discussion of current news


“World Politics”, chpt. 11, pp. 427-438, chpt. 15, pp. 578-580


Thu Apr 6


Terrorism (cont.)





Tue Apr 11

Due day for submission of the Journal of International Relations




Thu Apr 13


Weapons of Mass Destruction

“World Politics”, chp. 12 , pp. 460-473.


Tue Apr  18


Discussion of current news

Weapons of Mass Destruction (cont.)


Thu Apr  20


Due day for the submission of the short papers (both 1st and 2nd)




Tue Apr 25




Thu Apr 27


International Political Economy

“World Politics”, chapters 8 and 9.


Tue May 2




Thu May 4


Review session


Tue May 9 Alternate Final Exam 8 PM or by appointment


Thu May 11 Final Exam 4:00 – 5:50 PM