POLS 285/ Section-4

Instructor: Mazen Nagi

Meeting time and place: MWF, 9:00-9:50, Dusable 461

E-Mail: tiedye95@yahoo.com

 

Course Description:

                Welcome to the ever-changing world of international relations. The world has changed dramatically in the 1990s and the beginning of the new millennium. Europe has seen the birth and/or rebirth of nineteen new states; the ideological and military divide that once dominated analysis of international relations has dissipated. Democracy has rapidly spread to dozens of new states. The communications revolution is rapidly eroding states' ability to control the flow of information and ideas, as the rise of transnational movements and groups such as al Qaeda clearly demonstrate. Even the notion of a homogenous Third World frozen in place has lost meaning as we enter the millennium. 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 divided field, students will be introduced to a number of competing world views including realism, liberal idealism, neo-realism and neo-liberalism. 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: perception, rationality, and 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, trade conflict and nuclear proliferation. Other issues will be discussed as they arise on the pages of the Christian Science Monitor. Several case studies will be assigned throughout the semester, in order to more clearly illustrate the dilemmas that often face those in decision-making capacities

                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.

                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.

 

Readings:

1.       The main text for the course is: Charles W. Kegley, Jr., World Politics: Trends and Transformation, 11th ed., New York: St. Martin's Press, 2006. Copies of the text are available for purchase at the University and Village Common bookstores. Readings from the text are assigned in the Class Schedule.

2.       Additionally, there are six case studies that are listed in the syllabus’ daily readings that can be found at the reserve desk of Founders Memorial Library for two-hour checkout availability.

 

Writing Assignments:

                Each student is required to write two case briefs. The first case brief will have the student apply two or more of the theories covered in the course material to a case study to explain the events of the particular case. The idea is to demonstrate that nearly all issues can be seen through various frames that stand on their own merits. For example, one could explain the Bush administration’s reaction to the events of Tiananmen Square in 1989 from both a liberal and a realist perspective. This paper should be no less than three full pages, and no more than four pages.

                In the second case brief you will be applying the “Rational Choice Model” to a case study: first, identify the decision problem or dilemma faced and a specific decision-maker who must resolve the dilemma; second, determine what are the decision-maker's objectives, and what relative importance those objectives hold for the decision-maker; third, determine what logical alternatives might have been employed by the decision-maker to pursue his/her objectives; and fourth, assess how well the alternatives you proposed meet these objectives and select the best alternative. Finally, explain how the various impediments to rational choice may have hindered the decision-making process. (Keep in mind that the best alternative was not necessarily the one actually selected by the decision-maker.) You will be graded not on the alternative you select, but on how well you complete these tasks. This paper should be no less than full four pages, and no more than six pages.

                Case briefs are due at the beginning of the class session in which the case is discussed. (Case discussions may be postponed, but will never occur prior to the scheduled date.) Late briefs will be downgraded 1/3 of a letter grade for each weekday that they are late, and 2/3 of a letter grade for each weekend day late. There will be no exceptions to this rule. Therefore, students are strongly encouraged to begin their papers early. Both briefs must be submitted in order to pass the course. The first brief is worth 15 % of the final grade, while the second brief worth 20% of the final grade.

 

****SEE WRITING GUIDELINES AT THE END OF THE SYLLABUS

 

Participation:

                Participation is an important part of this course, and as such is required of all students. Participation grades will include mainly attendance, but also participation in class discussions. Students who miss any more than 6 classes total, for whatever reason outside of verifiably debilitating personal illness, or a verifiable death in the family-will be automatically failed for the course.

 

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 form 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 direct quotes. 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.

                The papers should be written in normal term paper style. Footnotes must appear either at the bottom of the page, in the text, or at the end of the paper, and a bibliography is required. Use one of the formats given below for both Footnotes and bibliography. Although primary consideration in evaluating the paper will be placed on content and the logic of the arguments, presentation (including spelling, grammar, and correct word use) will also be considered.

 

Examinations:

                There will be two examinations, a mid-term and a final. Each examination will be worth 30% of the semester grade. The mid-term examination will be held on Friday, March 2, and will cover all course materials and readings covered to that date, unless otherwise indicated. It will be returned before March 9 which is the last day to drop a class The final examination will be held on Wednesday, May 9 from 8-9:50 AM. Those who have a time conflict, for the final exam must make alternative arrangements with me by the end of class on April 20.

 

A NOTE FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

"NIU abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which mandates reasonable accommodations be provided for qualified students with disabilities. If you have a disability and 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. The CAAR office is located on the 4th floor of the University Health Services building (815-753-1303). I look forward to talking with you soon to learn how I may be helpful in enhancing your academic success in this course."

 

 

 

 

Grading:

                                30% mid-term examination

                                30% final examination

                                15% first course brief

                                20% second course brief

                                5% participation.

 

Tentative Semester Schedule-The only dates set in stone are those for Spring Break

***Case Studies are in Italics

Week 1

Jan. 17, 19

Introduction to Theories of International Relations

Chapters 1

Week 2 and 3

Jan. 22, 24, 26, 29

Liberalism

Chapters 2, 14

Week 3 and 4

Jan. 31, Feb. 2, 5, 7

Realism

Chapters 2, 13

Melian Dialogue

Week 4 - Feb. 9

Constructivism, Behavioralism & Post-behavioralism

Week 5

Feb. 12, 14

Neorealism, Neoliberalism

Chapters 6, 8

Week 5 and 6

Feb. 16, 19, 21

The Levels of Analysis Problem & Models of International Relations,

Chapter 3

Values vs Interests: The US Response to Tiananmen Square

First case brief due at the beginning of class Feb. 21

Week 6 and Week 7

Feb. 23, 26, 28

A “Global South” View-Dependency Theory and other Neo-Marxist Theories

Chapter 5

Midterm Exam- Friday, March 2

Week 8

March 5, 7, 9

Environment

Chapter 10

Debt-for-nature swaps: win-win solution or environmental imperialism?

***Exam and first case study returned

MARCH 10-18

SPRING BREAK

NO CLASSES

Week 9

March 19, 21, 23

The UN & International Organizations

pp. 168-194, 547-554

Operation Restore Hope: The Bush Administration and Somalia

Week 10

March 26, 28, 30

Ethnicity and Nationalism

pp. 131-147 and pp. 196-206

Watershed in Rwanda

Week 11

April 2,4,6

Terrorism

pp. 420-439

Week 12

April 9,11,13

Democratization

Schmitter & Karl, “What Democracy Is and Is Not,” Journal of Democracy Vol. 2(3), Summer 1991.

Week 13

April 16, 18, 20

The Use of Force and Theories of Conflict

Chapter 12, 13

Atomic Diplomacy in the Korean War

Second case brief due at the beginning of class April 20

Weeks 14

April 23, 25, 27

 

Week 15

April, 30, May 2

 

Wednesday 9

Final Exam-8:00-9:50

Guidelines for all written work:

1.      All work is due at the beginning of class. Unless arrangements are made at least 72 hours in advance, late papers will be docked as specified above. There will be no exceptions; not for broken-down printers or cars, grandmas doctors appointment, or your cross-country competition, so do not ask. Those who print on campus and the time-challenged are advised to print 24 hours before the deadline. Expect penalties if you procrastinate. For those too sick to work 72+ hours before the deadline, or aware in advance of other extenuating circumstances, you need to let me know and provide evidence. Extenuating circumstances do not include Aunt Libby, dentists, or drive shafts.

2.      Written assignments must be typed, double-spaced with normal fonts and 1" margins. All pages must be numbered and essays stapled, with your name on the front page. It is your responsibility, not the Universitys, facultys or staffs, to print and staple your essays. Do not use fancy covers. Failure to follow these simple guidelines will constitute grounds for grade deduction, up to and including a zero for the assignment, because such failure annoys me. NO E-MAILED submissions will be excepted.

3.      You must analyze the readings to get a grade. No cites no credit, or worse. All cites of material from the syllabus are to be placed in the text, at the end of the sentence, using exactly this form: (Authors last name, pp. ##). Outside sources require complete citation in footnotes, endnotes, or a bibliography.

 

The following is an explanation of some of the comments I typically put in the margins of essays:

 

Good/checkmark/solid underline...... good point, topic sentence, thesis statement

Squiggly underline............................ unclear

Awk.................................................. awkwardly phrased

Abrupt!.........................................…. poor organization, jumps around without logical flow

wordy................................................ the point could be better stated with fewer words

run-on............................................... run-on sentence

So?.................................................... does not answer the question, or requires explanation

slash across text ............................... non-responsive to the question assigned, digression

Fuzzy................................................ Lacks clarity; subject to multiple interpretations

Garbled /huh?/makes no sense......... Serious grammar, sentence-construction problems; you need to visit

       the ARC for help with your writing

Really??.................................…....... misinterprets a critical point

Cite?........................................…..... the information demands citation o f the readings

No cites? ....................................….. repeated failure to cite (see academic honesty guidelines)

miscite ......................................…... does not follow required form, or cites the wrong material

 

As a rule, avoid using the following words, phrases, and styles:

“Actually” ...…................................ Overused, misused, entirely unnecessary word

“very” ........….................................. The weakest modifier in the English language

“impact” ...…................................... Almost always misused as a verb, avoid using it at all

“The issue at hand” ........................ This and all like phrases are filler, and serve no purpose

“often times ” .................................. Colloquial. Use “often” instead.

“It’s” and “its” .............................…You have to use these ... use them correctly! This goes for all

      variations of the possessive

parentheses .................................. If it is not important enough for the text of your essay, leave it out!

Block quotes ................................ Keep to a minimum or do not use at all

Passive voice ............................... “He gave me a pen,” not, “A pen w as given to me by him.”