Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jessica Beyer
JSIS 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: JSIS 200. Offered: WSp.

Class description

At the end of the Cold War scholars and policymakers began trying to make sense of the new international political economy. The Bush Administration declared the dawn of a New World Order, which focused on a single model of economic globalization, liberalization, and western values of human rights. Meanwhile, Fukuyama, argued that the world had reached an 'end of history,' meaning the triumph of the western liberal democratic model. Others, such as Huntington, asserted the opposite—that humankind had replaced the great ideological divide between liberal democratic capitalism and communism with a 'clash of civilizations' in which the world’s great cultural and religious blocks would begin an endless cycle of conflict. The attacks on September 11, 2001 sent a clear message that the New World Order had not been embraced by everyone and that humankind had clearly not reached an end of history. The subsequent divisions within 'civilization' blocks revealed that the battle lines in the new system would be far more complicated than Huntington’s argument was able to capture. The purpose of this course is to attempt to answer the same question that these great minds were struggling to understand—namely, what constitutes our current world system?

In order to understand what constitutes our current world system, the course analyzes the political, economic, and social history from 1914-2001. Because of the vast time period that the course covers, it is meant to be an introduction to the 20th century. However, we will discuss the major events of the 20th century, international power structures, international institutions, international political economy, war, decolonization, and power and resistance. At the very end of the quarter, students will be asked to use the analytic tools they have gained over the quarter to make their own arguments about what constitutes our current world system.

Student learning goals

The course is structured in such a way that the members of the class will jointly engage in answering the question of what constitutes our current world system. In line with other instructors of SIS 201, this means the class will demand a lot of hard work and a willingness to actively engage the other students. Students will be asked to explore and understand the 20th and 21st century with writing, class discussion, and small group discussion. The reading materials, and lectures, will draw on academic texts. My objectives for this class are that students:

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.

Craft their own story of the 20th century.

General method of instruction

The course will involve lectures, class discussion, in-class exercises, extensive reading, extensive writing, and in-class presentations.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites are needed for the course, although SIS 200 is recommended.

It is important that students understand that SIS 201 is always a very demanding course. However, because summer quarter is a shorter quarter than others, SIS 201 can be even more demanding during the summer. Students anticipating traveling extensively during the summer, planning to take a very heavy course load with SIS 201, or predicting missing many classes will not be successful.

Students will be expected to read 150+ pages a week and attend most classes to receive a good grade. Class meets five days a week during both A and B term.

Class assignments and grading

Short papers, a long research paper, in-class presentations, group work, general participation, a final exam, and other assignments.

Grades will be assigned on the basis of the course requirements.


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.
Last Update by Jessica Beyer
Date: 04/18/2013