A survey of basic themes in international relations within the context of diplomatic history and American foreign policy. Emphasis is on basic motivational drives of world politics, including national interests, ideology, morality, and nationalism. Discussion of war, diplomacy, American foreign policy, and international organization sheds light on the perennial struggle for power among nations, the security dilemma and instruments of global cooperation.
This course offers an overview of the field of international relations. It will focus on basic concepts such as nations and nationalism, the nature of the interstate system, the United Nations, power, international conflict and war, and prospects for peaceful conflict resolution. Students will also be introduced to the various modes through which nation-states interact, including, trade, war, diplomacy and alliances. The course will draw on both historical and current examples to assess the complex issues and perspectives central to the field. The course is not limited to a mere description of issues and themes associated with the world politics. Rather, we will be constantly challenging the ways we are accustomed to thinking about politics on the world stage. Through comparing and contrasting various analytical perspectives the course aims to encourage students to think critically about issues raised in class. At a minimum this involves distinguishing among various arguments and modes of analysis, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of different explanations, and ultimately developing our own independent perspective on various problems encountered in politics and history.
Student learning goals
Understand key concepts and issues in the field of international relations, and effectively communicate these both verbally and in writing.
Understand and critically appraise various perspectives on issues pertaining to politics on the world stage.
Critically assess media and popular discourse on international relations, and to engage in independent assessment of issues discussed in class and course readings.
To locate and access information about the topic, and take an active role in your own ongoing education about international relations.
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading