In this course, we will look at and compare the different approaches of the newly independent states (NIS) to independence and reform. This course is geographically comprehensive, in that it will highlight the experiences of all 15 NIS republics. It will begin with a brief overview of the Soviet Union and its demise, focusing on Gorbachev’s reforms and the various independence movements within the 15 republics. Following, we will focus on the democratic and economic reforms, their successes and stumbling blocks, and assess where these countries stand today. Then attention will be given to the ethnic tensions and conflicts that have emerged in several of these countries. The remainder of the course will analyze the various approaches these states have taken to developing an independent foreign policy. Case studies from the various regions will provide examples of the trends in transformation.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Texts will combine traditional academic research with “on the ground” policy papers and government documents. This course will seek to prepare students for the challenges they will face in the workforce, where they will often be required to develop and to express views, to make presentations and to brief others. Therefore, students will be required to participate in class discussions, to make a class presentation, to draft a brief policy memo and to complete a final exam. Those interested in a particular facet of the course can opt to focus their research on one country/region or theme.
General familiarity with the region
Class assignments and grading
1) Regular class participation (20% of your grade): Read the material on time and be prepared to discuss it in class. Participation is evaluated on the basis of quality in addition to quantity. Thoughtful questions and perceptive observations contribute equally to a good discussion. Unexcused absences and tardiness will affect your grade.
2) Individual presentation (25% of your grade): Make a 30 minute presentation and answer questions on a selected country, taking an in-depth look at its experiences with political and economic reform, ethnic conflict or foreign policy development (dependent upon the week presenting). Presenters will assign a relevant article for the class to read on Wednesday to prepare for the presentation that Friday.
3) Policy Briefing Memo (25% of your grade): Draft a 2-4 page memo, analyzing a specific issue and its impact on the transition of that country (e.g. the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline’s anticipated effect on the Azeri economy, the results of the parliamentary elections in Ukraine and the future of democracy, the consequences of Baltic membership in the EU). Paper topics are due July 11th, papers are due Monday, July 21st.
4) Final Exam (30% of your grade): There will be an essay and short answer exam on topics covered in the course and the readings on the last day of class, July 23th.
Regular class participation (25% of your grade) Individual presentation (25% of your grade) Policy Briefing Memo (25% of your grade) Final Exam (25% of your grade)