The purpose of this course is to introduce the undergraduate student to the main issues in international relations today and the theories that attempt to explain them. The course is divided into three parts. The first part examines the assumptions and arguments of the three dominant paradigms of international relations theory: realism, liberalism, and marxism. The second part shows how these paradigms have been applied to the study of the central problem in international politics: war. The third part surveys the main events in world politics since 1945, the global political economy setting in which these issues take place, and the policies and interests of the main actors operating in the international stage: the United States, the European Union, Russia, China, the Bretton Woods institutions, multinational corporations, and the new international social movements.
Students should complete the readings before the date for which they are listed in the course outline. Students should also read the international section of a major daily newspaper and be prepared to discuss contemporary events in light of the theories and concepts studied in class. Grading will be based on participation, a mid term exam, an oral presentation, and a final research paper. Class attendance is mandatory.
25% Mid-term exam
25% 5-10 minute oral presentation
25% Final research paper (5 pages double space)
25% Class attendance and participation
Brown, Chris. Understanding International Relations. London: Palgrave (2005).
PART I: Contemporary International Relations Theory
Introduction of professor and students. Review of the syllabus and lecture topics.
Thinking about the nature of int'l relations: the classical roots.
Realist theory of IR
Liberal theory of IR
Alternative theories of IR
PART II: War
The realist approach to conflict management and resolution: balance of power.
The Liberal approach to conflict management and resolution: collective security.
Case study in balance of power: Gulf War I.
Case study in collective security: the League of Nations.
The alternative approach to world peace: Marxism
PART III: International relations: events, issues and actors.
20th century events
The global political economy
What is IPE?
The international monetary system.
Foreign aid, foreign investment, transnational corporations.
International environmental politics.
The main actors in international relations
Foreign policy of the U.S.
Foreign policy of the E.U.
Non-state international actors: NGOs, anti-globalization movement, etc.
Perspectives for the future.