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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jessica Beyer
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

In order to understand what constitutes our current world system, the course analyzes the configurations of power in the 20th century. We focus on the emergence of a bipolar system after the end of World War I and the creation of global economic interdependence. In discussing the bipolar world we look at the ways in which the power structure of the system, and the choices of powerful actors, shaped the experience of the less powerful. To do this, the course looks the less powerful actors’ acquiescence and resistance to powerful actors’ demands. Finally, using our understanding of the past we will turn to the puzzle of the post-Cold War world.

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.

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

Lecture, small group presentations, some movies/documentaries

Recommended preparation

The course emphasizes writing and reading. The reading assignments will average approximately 150+ pages per week. Writing will include two drafts of a small research paper (8 pages), several short weekly papers that analyze the readings, and other assignments that integrate writing.

Please note that this is a very work intensive class and it is easy to get behind during summer quarter.

Class assignments and grading

The final assignment structure is still under development. However, in SIS 201 students generally write two to three short discussion papers, conduct original research to formulate and then answer a causal question about world events, give two or three in class presentations based on research, take several in class quizzes and a final exam, and turn in assignments to reflect weekly reading of the news.


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: 04/28/2011