international relation class grad school


Question description

Welcome.  This class examines theoretical foundations and current issues in international relations.  The title of the course is something of an historical relic, referring specifically to political relations between states.  "IR" today attends to political relations between states, but also acknowledges aspects of post-Westphalian global politics, as well as the expansion from "political" to political, economic, cultural, technological and other issues among states and non-state actors.

Required texts.
Joseph S. Nye, Jr. and Daniel Welch, Understanding Global Conflict and Cooperation, (8th edition) - you should be able to get the 8th edition used online for under $10.  You do not need the 9th edition. 

Art and Jervis, International Politics - 9th edition.  You should get this online - you can find it used for less than $10 on and You should get the 9th edition.  Later editions cost $100 or more.

Rory Stewart, The Prince of the Marshes (any edition incl ebooks).

Online subscription to
The course has five required purchases.  Nye and Welch's Understanding Global Conflict and Cooperation (8th edition) will serve as our textbook.  Art and Jervis' International Politics (9th edition) will serve as our reader. You can find these recent editions used online for $10 or less.  We will read parts of Saima Wahab's In My Father's Country (any edition) and Rory Stewart's The Prince of the Marshes (any edition) toward the end of the semester (both widely available online).  Fourth, you are to subscribe to  If you subscribe with your .edu email, the cost is $2.49 per month; you can cancel anytime (after the semester). 

Additional readings will be available on blackboard (

You are responsible for all of the specific readings assigned below, whether we discuss them in class or not, and everything we discuss in class, whether it relates to a particular reading or not. 

Course goals.  The goals of this course are for you to develop a basic foundation in the concepts and issues in international relations, in preparation for the rest of your MAIA courses.  The method is by combining an introduction to key ideas of the past century with analysis of current issues. Your full, active, attentive, inquisitive approach to this course should broaden and deepen your understanding of a wide range a political science topics and policy issues.

A secondary goal of the course is to acquire an increased sense of "international relations" as an applied field of political science.  Washington offers one of the world's best places to do this. You will be responsible for at least one short report/reflection on an event on the practice of international relations.  We will discuss this in class. 

A particular note on this course is that it does not require higher mathematics.  I urge you, however, to take at least one statistics course during your college coursework. 

Finally, ask me also about the three numbers you should always know, and why they matter.

Course requirements. This course is designed to help you complete one of the two seminar papers required in the MAIA program.  You may, however, choose a seminar or non-seminar option. 

If you choose the non-seminar option, your written assignments will include:  two significant papers (30% and 30% of your course grade); two-page weekly analyses of the readings (weeks 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, for 25%); two-page short analyses (two total) of a current/news example of international relations (5%).  You will attend (at least) one off-campus event on the subject of international relations, with a very brief reflection. 

For your primary research paper for the semester, you may choose any theme, case study or comparison as your topic.  Your paper itself will answer a question that you have developed (with my consultation).  You can expect it to be approximately 4,000 words, plus a summary cover sheet that we will discuss.  Second is the final exam, approx. 2,500 words, which we will discuss in advance.  You will be asked to post on Blackboard your thoughts on the readings for the next day, in approx. 250-300 words.  Thoughtful, intelligent participation in class may add up to 10% to your grade.

If you choose the seminar option, instead of two significant papers, you will write one seminar-length paper in accordance with the standards set forth by the Politics department for fulfillment of one of the two the seminar papers required before you are permitted to take your comprehensive examinations.  Seminar option:  Your seminar paper will total approximately 6500-7000 words (50 percent of grade); you will outline but not write your final exam (10 percent).  Other assignments are the same.

We will discuss all of these requirements, including specific paper requirements, throughout the semester.

Course "suggestions."You are expected to complement your study of globalization with an increased awareness of current events. You are specifically directed to the Washington Post ( and the international edition of the New York Times,  You are encouraged also to see the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, the Economist and others. We will discuss good approaches to each of these.

Your responsibilities include class attendance, thorough reading of the assignments

before class, and class participation. You are responsible for all the reading material

regardless of whether we discuss it in class, and for all class discussions regardless of

whether the material relates to an assigned reading. Attendance is not optional; you need

discuss any absences, before class. More than one unexcused absence will count against your grade. Additionally, there may be required attendance for guest lecturers at times other than the normal class schedule.

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