POLS 285-2 INTRODUCTION TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

 

Mr. Scott LaDeur

Office:  DuSable 476

Mailbox:  Zulauf 415

Email:  sladeur@niu.edu

Class Hours:  MWF 11:00-11:50am

Classroom:  DuSable 461

Office Hours:  To be announced in class

 

Recommended Text:  Mingst, Karen.  2004.  Essentials of International Relations.  3rd Edition.  Norton:  New York.  This book is available at the University Bookstore and at Varsity Commons Bookstore.  I have made this text recommended because while I believe that this textbook is helpful I do not believe that it is essential to success in this class.  If you like to read textbooks and feel that they help you to understand themes from class—by all means purchase a copy.  All copies should be used so they will be quite affordable.  That being said, I believe that by regularly attending class and taking good notes you can do well without buying this book.

 

COURSE OBJECTIVES

 

                Welcome to the dynamic world of international politics!  Our world has never been more interconnected and interrelated than at the current moment.  Events in far-away lands have significant impact on our everyday lives.  From the price of gasoline, world economic problems and our safety in the United States, global events and politics affect our daily lives.  In order to better understand our world and make sense of the events, leaders, organizations and issues which affect our lives in ways we may not even realize, it is important to have a good working knowledge of international relations theory and its application to these important issues.  Therefore this class has three main objectives:

 

                First, to convey in an interesting and meaningful way the main theories of international relations.  These theories highlight important features of the international system and then describe how those features work to create the world we inhabit.  We will examine two main theories of international relations, realism and liberalism, and then use other ideas (constructivism, feminist thought, Global South views) to highlight areas of opacity and question their key assumptions.

 

                Second, this course seeks to apply these theories to a series of significant international issues, organizations and concepts.  I have chosen a few of the most significant:  the United Nations, terrorism, and globalization.  As the semester goes on, we will have a chance to work together as a class to select another few topics which are of interest to the class.  Each of these smaller units will feature two days of background, highlighting the current debate over these issues/organizations.  The last day of each unit will be centered on an outside case study which the class will read and debate in class.

 

                Lastly, this course seeks to develop your critical thinking and writing skills.  The ability to separate, analyze, interpret and organize information and your own thoughts and then clearly and concisely write them down on paper is a key skill in the 21st century.  As such, this class will feature a mid-term and a final exam which will have an essay component.  Additionally, students will be required to complete a 4-6 page paper which will be detailed later in the syllabus.

 

 

CLASS FORMAT

                Many of you may have little knowledge of international politics and the theories which seek to explain it.  DON’T WORRY!  The class is structured to give you a solid foundation in the main theories of international relations no matter what level of knowledge you have regarding international relations.

                This will be accomplished by a variety of instructional techniques.  Some classes will feature the traditional lecture format.  In most cases there will be significant interaction during lectures.  Case study days are used to encourage student participation, both individually and within assigned student groups.  Furthermore, throughout the semester, students will be asked to search newspapers for news stories which show examples of various international relations theories which are discussed in class.

 

GRADED REQUIREMENTS

                Students are expected to complete four graded requirements.  The first two are examinations; one given on February 27th and the other during the University determined final examination period on May 6th.  The mid-term and final exam will feature an identification section where students will be expected to define concepts/vocabulary words and then detail how they relate to various theories of international relations.  The second section will be composed of an essay question where students will be required to organize their knowledge and present it in a clear and grammatically correct fashion.  Review sheets containing potential terms and essay questions will be handed out prior to each exam.  The mid-term will count for 25% of the final course grade and the final exam will count for 30%.  Both examinations must be completed in order to achieve a passing grade in this class. 

                The third requirement will be a 4-6 page paper in which the student takes a single newspaper article and analyzes it with the use of one of the major theories of international relations discussed in class.  These short papers should not be a simple summarization of the article, but rather a thoughtful dissection of the article using the concepts, key assumptions, core values and beliefs of the major theories discussed in class.  Students will be well advised to speak with the instructor before selecting their article, although this is not required.  Students should use articles from either the New York Times (www.nytimes.com) or the Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com).   Students are eligible for an extra 2% if they go to the NIU Writing Center prior to turning in the paper.  All papers must be typed and submitted as a hard copy with the original article attached.  I will not accept papers via e-mail.  You will also be required to submit your paper through SafeAssign on our Blackboard site.  Procedures for SafeAssign will be discussed in class prior to the due date.  This paper is worth 20% of your final grade.  This paper is due on or before March 27th.  Please refer to the section of the syllabus called “Guidelines for Analytical Paper” for more information and instructor’s expectations.

                 The fourth graded requirement is a current events journal containing ten newspaper articles and a short analysis of each article.  Please do not summarize the article.  Make sure your analysis is well constructed and includes independent thinking (rather than merely a restatement of the article).   All journal entries should be typed and representative of the entire semester rather than simply the last weeks of the semester. The final journal can be assembled any way the student chooses as long as the guidelines are followed.  All papers must be submitted as a hard copy.  I will not accept papers via e-mail.  You will also be required to submit your journal entries through SafeAssign on our Blackboard website.  The journal is due on or before April 29th.  This journal is worth 20% of the final class grade.  Please refer to the section of the syllabus called “Guidelines for Current Events Journal” for more information and the instructor’s expectations.

                The last 5% of your grade is divided between two components:  class attendance and participation in Blackboard discussion group.  Each of you will be responsible for posting at least one thread during the course of the semester on our Blackboard discussion page and be an active discussant on your fellow student’s posts.  As to class attendance, I hereby award you four excused absences.  Use them at your own discretion.  I would hold onto them in case you need them for an unexpected reason.  At the end of the semester, I will total the number of class meetings, subtract four and divide the number of classes you attended into it for your percentage.

 

GRADE BREAKDOWN

Mid Term Exam                25%

Term Paper                        20%

Current Events Journal  20%

Blackboard Discussion    2.5%

Attendance                        2.5%

Final Exam                           30%

 

The grading scale in this class is as follows:

A=          100-90%

B=           89-80%

C=           79-70%

D=          69-60%

F=           59% and below

 

IMPORTANT DATES

Mid-Term Exam                                February 27th

Term Paper                        March 27th

Current Events Journal  April 29th

Final Exam                           May 6th

 

 

CLASS POLICIES AND OTHER LOOSE ENDS

 

Makeup Exams:  Makeup exams will only be given in extraordinary circumstances.  If such circumstances arise, please contact the instructor as soon as possible and before the scheduled exam. To keep the process fair for everyone in the course, students may be asked to support requests for makeup exams with documentation. A missed examination without prior notification and a documented excuse will result in a zero and a course grade of “F” as opposed to an incomplete.

 

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 for which they may require accommodations should notify the University's Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR). 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.

 

Late Assignments:  For every day an assignment is late, you lose ten points.  Please turn assignments in on time.

 

Submitting Written Work:  There are three ways in which you can submit your work:  during class, during my office hours and to the departmental secretary in Zulauf 415.  If you choose to submit your work to the secretary, please ask her to timestamp your work so I know when it was submitted.  I will not accept written work in any other form (under my office door, via e-mail, through the mail, etc.) except in extraordinary circumstances. 

 

Handouts/Notes:  Handouts and notes are for people who attend class.  Just because you are registered for the class does not mean that you are entitled to notes or handouts.  If you miss class, please get the notes from your classmates.  You may have to wash their car, but it is worth it!  All PowerPoint lecture slides will be posted to our Blackboard website prior to class.  Please print out a copy and bring it with to take notes with.

 

Attendance:  I will take attendance at every class session and it will count towards your final grade.  I will give everyone four excused absences—please use these judiciously.  Once they are gone, that is it.  If you plan on missing many classes please let me know.   If you absolutely have to miss class—fine.  Get the notes from your classmates and see me if you have any questions.  You are all adults now and are responsible for getting to class.  However, if you are not doing well and you tell me you don’t understand why, the first thing I will do is go over your attendance record.

 

Classroom Etiquette:  Students are to arrive at class on time.  Students are to remain for the entire session unless excused by the instructor beforehand or confronted with a serious personal emergency. For instance, it is not acceptable for students to walk in and out of class to answer cell phones, take casual bathroom and smoking breaks, or attend to other personal matters. Cell phones, pagers, or any electronic devices that make noise must be turned off during class unless the instructor has been notified beforehand of a special circumstance (e.g., sick family member, pregnant wife, special childcare situation, etc.). It is not acceptable to use an iPod, read a newspaper, send text messages, use a laptop for anything other than taking class notes, or engage in other behavior that distracts one from the class proceedings once the session has begun. No one should talk while someone else is talking; this includes comments meant for a classmate rather than the entire group. What may seem like a whisper or a harmless remark to one person can be a distraction to someone else. Overall, classroom dialogue and behavior should always be courteous, respectful of others, and consistent with the expectations set forth by the university.

 

Incomplete Requests: Such petitions will be granted only in extraordinary circumstances. The instructor reserves the right to ask for documentation to verify the problem preventing completion of the course by the normal deadlines. If the student does not present documentation from a university office or official, the matter will be left to the instructor’s discretion.

 

Academic Dishonesty: Regarding plagiarism, the NIU Undergraduate Catalog states: “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.” The above statement encompasses the purchase or use of papers that were written by others.  If you cheat, I will catch you.  In short, students are advised to do their own work and learn the rules for proper quoting, paraphrasing, and footnoting.  A good source for this is the NIU English Department’s Online Tutorial regarding Academic Integrity at:  http://www.ai.niu.edu/ai/

                        

Class Participation: I recognize class discussion comes more easily for some people than for others. By temperament or habit, some individuals are “talkers” while others are “listeners.” Learning to be both is an important subsidiary goal of this course.  Comments that are not relevant to the ongoing discussion and off the point will not be rewarded. Remarks that are disruptive to the discussion, insensitive to others, or attempt to dominate the discussion will not be tolerated. I strongly prefer students to participate on a voluntary basis. If you are particularly apprehensive about talking in class, or feel closed out of the discussion for another reason, please speak with me. There are some things I can suggest that may be helpful. Remember: communication skills and self-confidence are extremely important assets in the professional world. Thus it is better to develop these things in the collegial environment of this class rather than under more difficult circumstances later in life.

 

Unannounced Quizzes: The instructor reserves the right to conduct pop quizzes (in addition to the case study quizzes), if it becomes grossly apparent through class discussions that students are not completing the assigned readings on a regular basis.  If such quizzes are administered, they will be averaged and used to raise or lower a student’s final course grade by a half a letter grade. Whether a particular student’s grade is adjusted positively or negatively will be dependent on a class average. It will not be done capriciously.

 

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 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.

                                                                                                                                 

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, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to: http://www.niu.edu/polisci/

 

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, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to: http://www.niu.edu/polisci/

 

Blackboard:  Many reading materials, links, copies of the syllabus and updates throughout the semester are available on this course’s Blackboard page.  If you are unfamiliar with Blackboard, please see the instructor for information.  In order to login to Blackboard, you will need your NIU Z-ID number and password.  Blackboard is available at:  https://webcourses.niu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp

 

Extra Credit:  There is only one opportunity for extra credit in this class.  Students are eligible for an additional 2% on the term paper if they go to the NIU Writing Center prior to turning the paper in.  More about the Writing Center can be found at http://uwc.niu.edu/.  There will be no other opportunities for extra credit.

CLASS SCHEDULE

 

I will do my best to follow this schedule but I reserve the right to alter the schedule with proper notice.

 

PART ONE:          INTRODUCTION AND THEORY

 

January 12-         Introduction, syllabus, class policies, expectations and course goals

                                Assignment:  Log onto Blackboard and view our class’s page

 

January 14—      “Frames of Reference, Theory and Core Values” 

                                Class Exercise:  What America Means to Me

 

January 16--       Competing Frames of Reference

Reading Assignment:  Read the Melian Dialouge at: http://www.nku.edu/~weirk/ir/melian.html

 

January 19--       NO CLASS—MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY

 

January 21--       “Levels of Analysis in International Relations”

                                Recommended reading assignment:  Mingst p. 59-61

 

PART TWO:         THEORIES OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

 

January 23--       “Principles of Realism”

                                Recommended reading assignment:  Mingst p. 65-71, 101-103, 106

 

January 26--       “Classical and Structural Realism”

 

January 28--       Finish “Classical and Structural Realism”

                                Begin “A Realist Playbook:  Balance of Power”

                               

January 30--       Continue “A Realist Playbook:  Balance of Power”

Assignment:  Bring a newspaper article that is a good example of realism.  We will discuss these articles at the beginning of class

 

February 2--       Conclude “A Realist Playbook:  Balance of Power”

                               

February 4--       Case Study Day:  China’s Rise

Reading Assignment:  “Is China’s Rise Threatening the U.S.?”  This reading can be accessed on Blackboard

 

February 6--       “Principles of Liberalism”

Assignment:  President Wilson’s Speech to Congress (1917) available at http://net.lib.byu.edu/~rdh7/wwi/1917/wilswarm.html

 

Declaration of Independence.  Available at http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/

 

February 9--       Finish “Principles of Liberalism”

                                Begin “Collective Security:  A Liberal Playbook”

 

February 11--     Continue “Collective Security:  A Liberal Playbook”

                                Assignment:  Find a newspaper article which is a good example of liberalism

 

February 13--     Finish “Collective Security:  A Liberal Playbook”

 

February 16--     Liberalism Case Study:  “Can Humanitarian Intervention be justified?” 

Reading Assignment:  Read the above mentioned case study—can be found on Blackboard website

 

February 18—   “The Global South Viewpoint”

                                Recommended reading assignment:  Mingst 71-74

 

February 20--     “Feminism and IR”

                                Mid Term Examination Review Sheet distributed

 

February 23--     “Constructivism”

 

February 25--     Mid-Term Examination Review Session

 

February 27--     Mid-Term Examination

 

PART THREE:      INTERNATIONAL ACTORS, ISSUES AND CONCEPTS

 

March 1--            “The United Nations”

 

March 3--            “The UN Security Council”

 

March 5--            Case Study on the UN

                                Reading Assignment:  The UN in Yugoslavia

 

March 9--            NO CLASS SPRING BREAK

 

March 11--          NO CLASS SPRING BREAK

 

March 13--          NO CLASS SPRING BREAK

 

March 16--          “The Liberal International Economic Order”

 

March 18--          “The World Trade Organization”

 

March 20--          Case Study:  “Beer Brawls”

 

March 23--          “Global Terrorism”

 

March 25--          “State Sponsorship of Terrorism”

 

March 27--          Case Study:  “The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism”

                                TERM PAPER DUE

 

March 30--          Globalization I

 

April 1--                                Globalization II

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April 3--                                Case Study:  “France, U.S., Yahoo and the Nazis”

 

April 6--                                Decision Making Models

 

April 8--                                Decision Making Models

 

April 10--              Case Study:  “Policy Preferences and Bureaucratic Positions:  The Iran Hostage Crisis”

 

April 13--              Issue/Actor TBA

 

April  15--             Issue/Actor TBA

 

April 17--              Issue/Actor TBA

 

April  20--             Issue Actor TBA

 

April 22--              Issue/Actor TBA

 

April 24--              Issue/Actor TBA

                                Final Exam Review Sheet distributed

 

April 27--              Issue/Actor TBA

 

April 29--              Final Examination Review Session

                                CURRENT EVENTS JOURNAL DUE

 

May 1--                                SPRING READING DAY NO CLASS

 

Wednesday May 6th at 10 AM—FINAL EXAMINATION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GUIDELINES FOR ANALYTICAL PAPER

POLS 285

 

GOAL OF THE PAPER:            The purpose of this assignment is to write an analytical essay where a world view, major theory, or concept from the course is used to explain a contemporary event or issue related to international relations. In this way, the frames of reference or worldviews that we have studied become tools or conceptual lens for understanding and interpreting an aspect of “reality” (current events and issues).  You may use realism, liberalism, constructivism, feminism or Global South views in order to analyze your topic.

The aim is not to describe the event or issue. Rather, the objective is to explain or make sense of it through the core values, concepts, and key assumptions of a worldview or theory we have studied. Therefore, this is a creative enterprise involving the integration of “theory” with “the real world” with the hope of better understanding a piece of the latter.

Obviously, no one will be able to include all the assumptions and concepts associated with a particular theory in their paper. Each paper, however, should incorporate a substantial amount. The theory’s core values should be identified and included within the analysis.

Please note this is not a research paper. Rather it is an analytical “think piece.” Of course, outside sources can be included to strengthen one’s argument, but these materials are not required. The entire project can be completed with the lecture notes, the textbook, and a newspaper article from the New York Times or Washington Post.

 

Where can on find acceptable events and issues to analyze? Students should select an event or issue to analyze based on a news article from the New York Times or Washington Post. (Access to these newspapers was discussed earlier in this syllabus). The chosen article must be attached to the final paper. The use of newspaper editorials is unacceptable. The purpose of the article is simply to provide a description of a world event or issue, while the student’s job is to explain and make sense of that context.

 

Selecting a Topic: There is a wide-range of currents events and issues that might serve as interesting paper topics. Select an event or an issue before deciding on a theory or analytical tool. That is, do not simply select a theory and then impose it on some phenomenon. Rather, after finding an interesting event or issue, ask how can I make sense of it? What theory will allow me to explain and better understand this event or issue? Please feel free to discuss topics (theories and article selections) with the instructor.

 

STRUCTURE OF THE PAPER:  Papers should be four to six full word-processed pages. The pages should use 12 pt. font, be doubled spaced, and contain one-inch margins. The paper should be accompanied by a title page, which details the analytical essay’s title, the student’s name, the course number, and the date.  Staple the pages together in the left-hand corner. The pages should be numbered.

When writing this paper, please make sure to include the following things:  (1)  A short summary of the newspaper article, this is not to exceed two paragraphs; (2)  an explanation of why the issue that you are analyzing is important—why are you choosing to cover this issue; (3)  an explanation of which theory you are using to analyze this event; (4)  an explication of this theory, its core values, key actors and assumptions; (5) apply this theory (core values, key actors and assumptions) to this event—be sure to be clear and offer a logical explanations in your analysis; (6)  take some time to explain why the theory you chose to analyze this event with is the best (why is another theory/theories not as good?); (7) provide a solid conclusion summing up your main points.  Organization, spelling, grammar and coherence of your argument will also be included in the assessment of your paper.

 

TURNING IN THE PAPER:  As stated in the syllabus, this paper is due on or before March 27th.  This paper may be turned in to me during class on or before March 27th or turned into the Department of Political Science office (Zulauf 415) before 4:30pm on March 27th.  Late papers will be accepted but will be penalized ten points per day.  NO PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED VIA EMAIL.  

 

 EXTRA CREDIT:  As stated in the syllabus, this is the only opportunity for extra credit in this class.  If you go to the Writing Center with a rough draft prior to turning in your paper you will receive an extra 2%.  Details will be announced in class regarding what paperwork you must submit in order to receive your extra credit.

 

SOME FREE ADVICE:   In this paper, I want to see that you understand your article and the theory that you are using the analyze it.  Please connect the theory to specific parts of the paper.  Start a paragraph by noting that “X” is a part of theory “Y” and then refer back to the article to support your point.  The more I can see that you understand both your article and your theory the better off you will be. 

 

STYLE OF ARGUMENT:  The following is taken from Dr. Chris Jones’s POLS 285 syllabus—it is a good primer for how to make a reasoned and logical argument.  I expect reasoned and logical arguments in your paper.  Please stay away from simple assertions.

 

Use Reasoned Arguments. Avoid Assertion of Opinion: An assertion is a statement that is not supported by logic or evidence. It is simply presented in the form of a declaration: “X is true.” Examples of assertions would be statements such as the following: “America is an imperialist country that would exploit the entire world if it could;” or “Leaders in the developing world are irrational and unpredictable.” Upon reading or hearing a statement such as this one may be left wondering what reasons there are for believing that such a statement could be true. Why would Americans exploit other countries? Why would leaders in the developing world be less rational than anyone else? One may also wonder what evidence there might be to indicate that the statement is in fact true. Are there historical cases or current examples of American exploitation of other peoples around the world? Have psychologists found that leaders in the developing world are often crazier than the rest of us? Because they are presented as simple declarations without supporting reasons or evidence, assertions such as the ones above are the least persuasive kind of statement. They may express the opinion of the person making the statement (for example, “I feel that X is true”), but they cannot explain why one should accept the statement. When attempting to persuade someone else, an assertion is the weakest way to do so because the other person is not forced to reconcile another person’s reasons or evidence with their own. If one simply asserts “X is true,” the other person can respond with an equally simple counter-assertion, “No, X is not true.” In the absence of reasons or evidence on either side there is no way to evaluate these two assertions or to choose one over the other; it is simply one individual’s word against another’s. This is why small children often fall into infinitely repeated a cycle of assertions (“is so!”) and counter-assertions (“is not!”). Without the skills to develop and evaluate reasoned arguments, there is no way for them to settle their disagreement.

 

How does a reasoned argument differ from an assertion of opinion? It provides logic and evidence that we can use to evaluate a particular statement that we can present to others in order to try and persuade them that our evaluation of the statement is valid. More specifically, a reasoned argument does two things that an assertion does not do:

A reasoned argument explains the logic behind the statement, the reasons why such a statement could be true. Such logical reasons come from theories. (Theories are logically related sets of propositions that help us to describe and explain our world.” In the first example above, a radical theory of international relations, such as Marxism would suggest that capitalist countries tend to produce more goods than their exploited workers are able to buy. (They call this phenomenon an economic crisis of “over-production”). Therefore, such countries must expand overseas in order to dominate foreign markets in which they can sell their surplus goods. This domination is what they refer to as “imperialism”). Since the United States is a capitalist country, a radical theorist would explain such overproduction as the one reason why Americans might practice imperialism. As for the second statement, there may be no theory that suggests logical reasons why leaders in the developing world would be more irrational than, for instance, the average American politician. Instead of logic, our second assertion might be based on racism.

A reasoned argument presents evidence to suggest that the statement is in fact true. Examples are a basic kind of evidence. If X is true, there should be examples of X we can point to as we try to convince others that X is in fact true. In attempting to convince someone that America is in fact an imperialist country, a radical scholar will present a number of historical and current examples of U.S. interference in the affairs of other countries in order to keep their markets open to U.S. businesses. If there are many good examples of X, we may begin to believe that X might actually be true. On the other hand, if there are not very many examples, or if the examples do not seem to be very good ones, we may begin to doubt X. In the case of our second assertion, someone may try to convince others that leaders in the developing world are irrational by pointing out individual examples, such as Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who may not seem to behave as we do. But does acting different mean that someone is irrational? And even if Chavez is irrational, does that prove that all leaders in the developing world are generally irrational? The evidence for our second assertion does not seem to be very strong, which should cause us to doubt the validity of the assertion.

So after reviewing the logic and evidence in support of a particular statement, we might (or might not) say “There are logical reasons to believe X could be true” or “There is evidence to suggest that X is in fact true.” The strongest kind of argument would combine logic and evidence so that we could say, “There are logical reasons to believe X is true, AND the evidence suggests that X is in fact true.” This is infinitely more persuasive than simply asserting, “I believe X is true,” which neither logic nor evidence to support it.

Of course, even if someone is able to support a position with logic and evidence, this does not guarantee that they are correct or ensure that others will accept their reasoned argument as persuasive one. They may very well have logical reasons for believing otherwise, and evidence to support their own position. By insisting on reasoned argumentation, however, it is possible to evaluate different positions in terms of logic and evidence instead of falling into the vicious circle of assertion and counter-assertion such as, “Is so!” and “Is not!”

 

 

 

               

 

 


GUIDELINES FOR CURRENT EVENTS JOURNALS

 

The syllabus states that the current events journal should consist of 10 articles from either the Washington Post or the New York Times.  Please do not use editorials or opinion pieces—stick to news stories!  Please print out copies of the articles and include them in your journal.

 

Where to turn it in:        I will accept your journals in class on or before April 29, 2009.  You may also turn it into the Political Science Department Office (Zulauf 415) before 4:30pm.  Please make sure that the office personnel timestamps your submission so I know when it was turned in.  For each day late, I will deduct ten percent.  I will not accept journals over email.

 

Journal Form:    You may submit the journal in any form you like as long as it is a hard copy.  Please make sure to have your name on all of your type written journal submissions.  Include hard copies of the articles which you analyzed.

 

Analysis:              The syllabus notes that you may make a variety of observations on each article.  I would suggest that you ensure a level of diversity in your comments.  Please do not analyze ten articles using the same theory.  As far as opinions, I would urge you to focus on using a theory/concept to analyze the article and include an opinion if you want.  Please do not offer opinions on ten articles.  Here is a little advice (hint, hint!) 

               

DO:  Use at least three theoretical/conceptual approaches such as realism, liberalism, global South views, feminism, constructivism, decision making models, globalization, terrorism, UN or Liberal International Economic Order (WTO, etc.)  I do not want to see ten articles which are examples of realism!

 

In each article, pick out three things that support your chosen theory/concept (you should be able to cover this in about 2 paragraphs).  These should be examples of key actors/core values or main assumptions.  For non-theory approaches, please refer to examples of concepts that we covered in class.  Check the Power Point slides for main concepts.

 

Provide some evidence from the article to support your observations.  Please do not simply assert that, “The United States is a unitary actor.”  Tell me why, pointing to a place in the article, this is true!

                               

Do make sure that your spelling, grammar and word choice is appropriate for formal written work

                               

Put your name on each journal entry

                               

Type your journals

                               

Print out your articles and include them in your submission

               

Include your personal opinion (if you want but it is not required) as PART of a larger theoretical/conceptual analysis

                               

Clearly identify which theory/concept you are using

 

Make it clear, in the title of each journal entry, which article you are analyzing

 

Use articles which relate to foreign policy or international relations. 

 

DON’T:  Rely purely on your opinion

                               

Use multiple theories/concepts in a single journal entry—pick one!

                               

Lay out or define all of the main actors/core values/key assumptions of the theory or concept you are using in each journal entry.  I assume you know what they are—just refer to the ones you are using in your journal entry

                               

Be careless about your spelling, grammar or word choice

                               

Use 10 articles from April of 2009

 

Summarize the article—move right into your analysis

 

Quote from the article—when you refer to the article put it in your own words.

 

Use articles which do not touch on foreign policy or international relations

 

Use articles which only focus on domestic politics in another country.

 

Use opinion pieces or editorials