Welcome to PS321: International Politics


Why does Iran continue to develop its nuclear program despite all of the sanctions and diplomatic efforts to get it to stop?  Does the rise of China present a security threat to the United States…or an opportunity? Why can’t European countries come to a lasting agreement on how to solve their fiscal problems?

This class seeks to address why global cooperation can be so difficult even if most of the world shares similar goals of peace and prosperity.  We will start by taking an historical approach, tracing major events in world history from the Peloponnesian War to the Cold War and examining how these events changed (or haven’t changed!) the way we think about how to overcome international conflict.  We will then examine the ways in which globalization and development have created new opportunities and new challenges for international cooperation on issues from security to economic growth and from human rights to the health of the natural environment.

We will use this course website as an alternative to Blackboard as your one-stop location for all of the information you need about the class.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the site or if anything is unclear.

Week 14: Final Week

We will talk more about international interventions this week and then dedicate Wednesday to review for the final exam.

A few important points about the final:

1) It will cover only the SECOND HALF of the course (since the midterm)

2) Your higher exam grade between the midterm and final will count for 15%, the lower for 10%

3) You have the choice of taking the final exam on EITHER Friday December 7th or Monday December 10th.  In both cases, the exam will be from 11:45-12:45 in Bunnell 122 (normal location and time).


Monday, December 3rd: International Intervention

Wednesday, December 5th: Exam Review

Friday, December 7th: Final Exam Option A

Monday, December 10th: Final Exam Option B

Wednesday, December 12th: SIMULATION — 10:15am-12:15pm — Location TBA

Week 13: 21st Century Challenges

Enjoy your Thanksgiving break with no new reading assignments!  We will still have the Africa Map Quiz on Monday, so prepare for that and review last week’s readings on the geopolitics of the arctic.  On Wednesday we will talk about Civil Wars and on on Friday we will discuss Terrorism.  A reminder that your fourth policy memo is due next Monday (12/3) and your final exam will be on Friday 12/7.

Monday 11/26: Geopolitics of the Arctic

  • Map Quiz: Africa
  • Review readings on Arctic Geopolitics

Wednesday 11/28: Civil Wars (and solutions to them?)

Friday 11/30: Terrorism

Change in Policy!  The final exam will only cover material from the second half of the course.  The question list is now available:  Final Exam Prep Sheet

Week 12: The Global Environment

For a change of pace this week we are going to talk about the international politics of the environment.  We’ll cover some general issues on Monday (along with your 4th map quiz) and then spend Wednesday talking specifically about the arctic regions.

Monday, November 19: The Global Environment

Wednesday, November 21: International Relations of the Arctic

Next Monday: Map Quiz #5 Africa

Week 11: International Politics of the Middle East

Revised Syllabus

Monday, November 12: History of Middle East Politics

Wednesday, November 14: The Arab Spring | Guest Lecture by Dr. Maged Botros

Friday, November 16: Nuclear Proliferation in the Middle East

Map Quiz #4 on Monday: East Asia (ignore date and EC questions on handout)

NB: Your final policy memo is due on Monday, December 3rd: Policy Memo #4 Instructions

Week 10: Transnational Actors, Human Rights, and China

Next week we are lucky to have a couple of great speakers coming to campus to give presentations on international affairs topics.  On Monday, Nov. 12, Dr. Maged Botros, a Fulbright fellow from Egypt, will be giving a presentation on the Arab Spring at 6pm in Schaible Auditorium.  He will then give a guest lecture in our class on Wednesday.  On Tuesday, two China experts, James and Deborah Fallows will be delivering the Bartlett Lecture (time and location TBA).  In anticipation of these events, we will talk about China during the latter half of this week and the Middle East next week.

Monday, November 5th: Human Rights

Wednesday, November 7th: The Role of NGOs

Friday, November 9th: The Rise of China

Map Quiz on Monday 11/12: SW Asia_Handout


Week 9: International Finance

Change of plans!  Unfortunately, due to Hurricane Sandy, our guest lecturer will not be able to make it this week.  So we will postpone our discussion of nuclear weapons and return to our previously planned topic of International Finance.  We will use Monday to wrap up our discussion of development and the “Washington Consensus.”  For Wednesday you will read the two chapters of the textbook on global investment and monetary regimes.  Then on Friday we will talk about the financial crisis in Europe.

Monday, October 29: The Washington Consensus

Wednesday, October 31: Investment and Monetary Regimes

  • FLS: Chs. 7-8

Friday, Nov. 2: European Financial Crisis

Policy Memo #3 Due Monday 11/5!

Policy Memo 3 Instructions

Week 8: Trade and Development

This week we will be moving on to a very different topic: trade and development.  However the same concepts of conflict and cooperation, relative vs. absolute gains are all still at the core of these issues.  On Monday, we’ll introduce trade theory, why economists believe that all sides win through free trade but why free trade has historically been rare.  You will read an interesting and controversial article that asserts that protectionism is actually akin to racism!  Then on Wednesday we will talk about the challenge of international development and the debate over whether the World Bank and foreign aid programs do more harm than good.

Finally, on Friday, we have a special guest lecturer, Dr. Scott Fitzsimmons, who is a candidate for the open faculty position in International Relations will delivering a guest lecture about democracy and war.  We’ve talked previously about whether democratization makes war more or less likely.  Dr. Fitzsimmons will be presenting a theory about whether democracy can help explain who wins wars.

Monday, October 22: International Trade

Wednesday, October 24: International Development

Thursday, October 25: Dr. Fitzsimmons Research Presentation, “Private Warfare” | 3:45-4:45, Gruening 301

Friday, October 26: Dr. Fitzsimmons Guest Lecture, “Why Democracies Win at War”

MAP QUIZ ON MONDAY 10/29: Americas-Handout

Week 7: Visions of a Post-Cold War World

We’ve covered the evolution of the international system from the Peloponnesian War through the Cold War, and we’ve employed several different theoretical frameworks to sharpen our analysis of world politics along the way.  Now it’s time to show off what you know during your Midterm Exam!

After your midterm, we will read several important articles that were written at the end fo the Cold War about what the new world would look like.  Which do you think is the most appropriate paradigm for international politics today, or in the years ahead?


Monday, October 15: MIDTERM EXAM

Wednesday, October 17: Clash of Civilizations or the End of History?

Friday, October 19: Back to the Future or New World Order?

Policy Memo #2 is Due Next Monday, October 22!

Policy Memo 2 Instructions

Week 6: The (False?) Promise of Institutions

This week we will continue our discussion of the bargaining approach to war and explore how the different paradigms approach the potential for institutions to help states overcome the “dilemmas” to international cooperation.  This week will wrap up the major theoretical and historical section of the course and your midterm exam will be next Monday, October 15.  The list of exam questions is available under the exams page as well as below.

Mon 10/8      The (False) Promise of Institutions?

Wed 10/10    Complex Interdependence

  • Nye: Ch. 7
  • Policy Memo 2 Postponed until 10/22

 Fri 10/12       The European Union