POLS 285-1: Introduction to International Relations

Northern Illinois University

Department of Political Science

Spring 2009



  • Prof. Andrea Radasanu


  • Zulauf 408

Phone Number

  • 753-7052

Email Address

  • aradasanu@niu.edu

Office Hours

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays 1pm – 2:30pm, or by appointment


  • DU 459

Class Time

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00am – 12:15pm


Course Description:


After the end of the Cold War, international paradigms shifted, and casual observers, statesmen and academics alike have tried to explain and understand this new world with America as the lone superpower, escalating international terrorism, international responses to domestic oppression in the form of humanitarian interventions, the forces of globalization, and the ever-widening scope of supra-national organizations like the European Union. We live in a world that is intertwined – politically, economically, and culturally – in ways it has never been in the history of human kind.


The purpose of this course is to teach you how to explain and analyze this complex world in which we live. The course aims to provide you with the analytical tools and the conceptual frameworks to make informed judgments about the events that are shaping our world as well as those events that have already shaped our world. We will ask ourselves which theories best help describe and explain the patterns of war and peace, wealth and poverty, and international norms and justice. We will use the analytical tools of international relations to assess the current world system with special attention to America’s crucial role in this system.


This introduction to the field of International Relations has a secondary purpose. It will serve as a venue for the development of your analytical and critical skills as well as your communication skills, both verbal and written. You will assess theories and arguments with the aim of helping you formulate good arguments of your own. Much attention will be paid to your ability to articulate these arguments in a clear, concise and logical manner.


Required Texts:


1. The following are REQUIRED texts. They can be purchased at either of the campus bookstores.


2. In addition to acquiring the required books listed above, you are also responsible for readings placed on reserve. Readings required for each class are clearly listed on the syllabus schedule. If you have any questions about the readings, don’t hesitate to ask your professor in a timely fashion.


3. You must keep up to date on current international events. You may use whatever source you find useful, but the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) is highly recommended. Despite its name, the CSM is not primarily a religious newspaper. It is one of the most respected international papers and thought to have some of the most balanced reporting of any major paper. Moreover, studies show that the CSM has the highest percentage of international news of any major American newspaper. You might want to subscribe to the newspaper, mail or electronic delivery. The electronic edition can be found at http://www.csmonitor.com. Class discussion will assume knowledge of significant current international occurrences.


Course Requirements:


1. Attendance and Participation:


Your attendance and class participation are important components of the course and will make up 10% of your course grade. Attendance will be recorded every class, and class participation will be monitored. Attendance will be recorded in the first TEN minutes of class. Please do not come in after that hoping to sign your name to the attendance sheet. Four or more classes missed, for whatever reason, will result in an automatic 25% penalty of your participation grade. It is especially important to be prepared to discuss case studies or the application of analytical concepts to the historical cases we will be considering.


2. Reading:


All reading assignments must be completed BEFORE the beginning of the relevant class. In the few cases that topics will be discussed over the course of more than one week, the specific reading responsibilities for each of the classes in question will be clarified the week before. Please keep in mind that your ability to participate effectively will depend on your diligence in completing the readings as assigned. All readings as well as all lecture material are fair game for the two examinations. Not all of the readings will be covered in class, and not all lecture material will be covered in the readings. You must study your readings and take good notes in lectures in order to do well on the midterm and final examinations.


3. Tests and Assignments:


i) Midterm Test. March 5, 2009, worth 15% of the final grade. The mid-term test will be written in class, and will be one hour long. It will cover all the material up to that point. It will consist of key term definitions, short questions, and a longer essay question. A study guide will be provided in a timely fashion.


ii) Term Paper. This will be a research paper between 1000 and 1500 words, due at the beginning of class on April 21, 2009. It is worth 20% of the final grade. Paper topics will be posted on Blackboard within the first few weeks of the start of the semester and discussed in class.


Content is crucial, but clear and effective writing count as well. If you need help with your writing, be sure to get it from the various writing resources on campus.


All papers must be submitted to SafeAssign; hard copies by the deadline specified are also required. Details on SafeAssign to follow in class.


iii) Final Exam. This exam, worth 25% of the final grade, will be given in the final exam period (noted on syllabus schedule). You will be responsible for all of the material in the course, although there will be a strong emphasis on the material covered after the mid-term test. The exam will consist of definitions, identification questions, short questions, and essay questions. More information will be provided as the term unfolds. A review session will be held in the final class of the semester, and a study guide will be handed out in a timely fashion.


iv) Quizzes, Pop Quizzes and Homework Assignments. A handful of brief quizzes and short assignments will be administered throughout the semester.  They will focus mainly on the case studies. The purpose of this component of the evaluation is to encourage you to do the assigned readings, and to come to class prepared to discuss the material. If it becomes clear that people are not coming to class prepared, the professor might take the drastic action of giving pop quizzes. Otherwise, assignments and quizzes are noted on the syllabus. This component will make up 30% of your grade.


If classes or assignments coincide with your religious observance, please let the professor know as soon as possible so that you can be accommodated.


Honors Students. Please note that your work will be graded in a more rigorous manner than students not in the Honors program. Higher standards will apply to your work.


Grading Scheme:


Attendance and Participation: 10%

Quizzes, Pop Quizzes and Homework Assignments: 30%

Midterm Test: 15%

Term Paper: 20%

Final Exam: 25%


Grading Scale:


93%-100% =


90%-92.9% =


87.5%-89.9% =


83%-87.4% =


80%-82.9% =


77.5%-79.9% =


73%-77.4% =




60%-69.9% =


Less than 60% =







Lateness Policy:


Quizzes, pop quizzes and homework assignments that are missed cannot be made up.


The term paper is due in class (April 21) within the first ten minutes of the beginning of the lecture, but it may be handed in to the Political Science Department before noon on the same day without penalty. Late papers will incur a 10% penalty for each day of lateness. Papers that are not submitted on April 21 at the beginning of class or at the office by noon will be considered one day late; papers received on April 22 will receive a 20% penalty and so on – including week-ends.


The term paper may be handed in late without penalty only under the most extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances, and with adequate documentation. The determination of the suitableness of the excuse and documentation will be at the discretion of the professor. And please note that being under the weather or having a cold won’t count. You will have months to write this paper, and you will be expected not to wait until the last minute to work on it.


Makeup exams (for the mid-term and final) will only be given in extraordinary circumstances. If such circumstances indeed exist, the professor must be notified as soon as possible and prior to the scheduled exam. Supporting documentation is REQUIRED, and a missed examination without prior notification and a documented excuse will result in a grade of F.


Class Decorum:


You are expected to be courteous and collegial in this class. Here are some of the decorum guidelines:

v     Be on time for class.

v     Do not leave during class. Use the restroom, get a drink of water, etc. before class begins or after it ends. If you must leave early or come in late, please provide a reasonable explanation and be as undisruptive as possible when you are coming or going.

v     Respect your classmates. Do not interrupt your colleagues, and make sure that your comments are civil. Discussion is wonderful and encouraged, but it is only possible when we listen to one another and make comments that are courteous.

v     Do not disrupt lectures. No cell phones, no private conversations, no snoring. If you wish to interrupt to ask a question, please put your hand up. Questions are encouraged!

Extra Credit:


Extra credit assignments will not be given on an individual basis to raise final grades.


Students with Disabilities:


NIU abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regarding provision of reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Moreover, your academic success is of importance to me. If you have a disability that may have a negative impact on your performance in this course and you 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. CAAR is located on the fourth floor of the University Health Services building (753-1303). I look forward to talking with you to learn how I may be helpful in enhancing your academic success in this course.


Plagiarism Policy:


According to the NIU Undergraduate Catalogue “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 quotations 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. Failure to adhere to the University’s plagiarism policy will result in punishments ranging from a failed course grade to suspension and even expulsion, depending on the egregiousness of the infraction.


Political Science Web Site:


Students 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 this site, go to http://polsci.niu.edu


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 spring semester are eligible for the following year’s competition even if the student has graduated.


Course Outline and Due Dates:      


January 13

PART I: Analyzing International Relations

A.    Introduction

·         Spiegel textbook, pp. 3-17

January 15

January 20

B.     Key Concepts

·        Spiegel textbook (Glossary)

January 22

January 27

C. Overview of Theories of International Relations: Realism, Liberalism and Constructivism

·         Stephen M. Walt, "International Relations: One World, Many Theories," Foreign Policy110 (Spring 1998), pp. 29-46 (electronic reserve).

·         Robert Jervis, “Theories of War in an Era of Leading Power Peace,” American Political Science Review (March 2002), pp. 1-14 (electronic reserve).

·         Also Spiegel textbook, pp. 34-48

January 29

D. Levels of Analysis

·         Spiegel textbook, pp. 22-34, 287

Review quiz

February 3

PART II: How Leaders Decide (Levels of Analysis In-Depth)

A.    The individual level of analysis

Review Spiegel textbook, pp. 28-32, 262-3

February 5

Deterrence and Compellence

·         Spiegel textbook, pp. 257-65.

Homework assignment (due next class)

February 10

Case: Snow, Chapter 10: Future War: From Symmetrical to Asymmetrical Conflict

February 12

Domestic Determinants of State Action

B.     The unit level of analysis

·         Spiegel textbook, pp. 26-28, 37-38.

February 17

C.     The system level of analysis: Anarchy and Cooperation

·         Spiegel textbook, pp.  23-25, 273-279

Homework assignment (due next class)

February 19

Class cancelled (St. Louis with Model UN Club)

February 24

February 26

D.   Historical Overview: Applying IR Analysis to WWI and WWII

·         Spiegel textbook, Chapter 3, pp. 57-107.

March 3

Catch up and review for midterm test

March 5


March 10 & 12

March Break

March 17

PART III: Transnationalism and Interdependence

A.    Transnationalism, interdependence, and globalization

·         Spiegel textbook, pp. 201-209.

March 19

Case: Snow, Chapter 9: Evaluating Globalization

March 24

B.     The international economy

·         Spiegel textbook, Chapters 9 and 10.

March 26

Case: Snow, Chapter 7: Free Trade or Not Free Trade

March 31

PART IV: Processes of Interaction and Conflict Management

A.    Diplomacy and negotiation

·         Introduction – no reading assigned

April 2

Class cancelled (away at MPSA conference)

April 7

Case: Snow, Chapter 6: Resolving the Irresolvable: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Quiz on case study

(see also Spiegel textbook, pp. 211 ff.)

April 9

B. International law, norms and organization

·         Spiegel textbook, Chapter 13.

April 14

Case: Snow, Chapter 4: War Crimes: The Past in the Present in the Future

April 16

PART V: Problems in World Politics

A. Conflict as Clash of Civilizations?

Samuel Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs, vol. 72, no. 3 (Summer 1993): 22-49 (electronic reserve).

Quiz on article

April 21

B. Terrorism

·         Spiegel textbook 3rd ed., pp. 440-451.

·         Snow, Chapter 16, pp. 279 ff.

Paper Due

April 23

C. Nuclear Proliferation

·         Snow, Chapter 11: The Perils of Proliferation: Iran and North Korea

·         For further reference, see Spiegel textbook under “NPT,” “nuclear power,” and “nuclear weapons” (index).

April 28

D.    International Health

·         Snow, Chapter 15: Worse than the Bubonic Plague: AIDS in Africa as a Transstate Issue

·         See also Snow, Chapter 2 on Medecins Sans Frontieres (or Doctors without Borders)

April 30


May 5

FINAL EXAMINATION – Tuesday, May 5, 10:00am-11:50am (usual classroom)

Professor retains the right to alter the schedule, with due notice to students. Assignment due dates are firm.