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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Joel S Migdal
SIS 201
Seattle Campus

The Making of the 21st Century

Provides a historical understanding of the twentieth century and major global issues today. Focuses on interdisciplinary social science theories, methods, and information relating to global processes and on developing analytical and writing skills to engage complex questions of causation and effects of global events and forces. Recommended: SIS 200. Offered: WSp.

Class description

SIS 201 is about the institutions that have shaped the world in which we live – a world that is at once interdependent, fragmented, and fractious. Students will learn about the two most important institutions, the world economy and the world system of states, and how they developed in the 20th century. Special attention will be given to the reshaping of these institutions in the 21st century, with a focus on the aftermath of the attack of 9/11. SIS 201 provides a framework for understanding the major global issues of the twenty-first century, with an emphasis on ongoing international conflicts and the distribution of power worldwide. The course looks at the creation of the institutions, fault lines, and practices of the twentieth-century international system as a basis for understanding today’s global social, political, and economic forces. It focuses on interdisciplinary social science theories, methods, and information relating to global processes and on developing analytical and writing skills to engage complex questions of causation and effects of global events and forces.

Student learning goals

Think critically about the international political economic system.

Form oral and written arguments in response to the class’s organizing questions.

Use writing as a way of understanding the course’s organizing questions.

Use research in support of arguments about the international political economy.

Critically engage and differentiate online resources.

General method of instruction

The course will consist of three lectures a week, which will be interrupted frequently by student questions for the lecturer and the opposite. Twice a week, students will meet in small sections for discussion of readings, lectures, and current events related to the course material.

Recommended preparation

Recommended: SIS 200 There are no prerequisites for the course, but it is highly recommended that students start reading the New York Times newspaper daily even before beginning the course.

Class assignments and grading

The course emphasizes writing and reading. The reading assignments will average approximately 150+ pages per week, with attention given on how to read critically. Writing will include two drafts of a small research paper, plus several short weekly papers that analyze the readings. Additionally, students will participate in KNOW, the University of Washington Knowledge Network of World Events & News, by reading international newspapers on a specific region or them, select articles to be posted on the KNOW website, and annotate those articles.

Grades are determined by the two drafts of the research paper, peer-review of others’ papers, the short weekly papers, the KNOW annotations, in-class quizzes, a final exam, and participation in the weekly section.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by M Jane Meyerding
Date: 01/25/2011