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2021 Spring


Daniela Chalaniova
For information about registration please contact our admissions.


Here is the course outline:

1. Session 1: Course Introduction & Why Bother with Theory?

Feb 11

Description: Introduction of the course syllabus, course outline, teaching methodology and learning outcomes. Explanation of assignments and course expectations, scheduling and grading. What is theory? What is it composed of? Why does it matter anyway? How do I know one when I see one? What to look for in International Relations literature? Building on courses such as Introduction to International Relations and Social Science Research Methods, this class wraps up and pin-points the general characteristics of theories, their purpose for writing analyses, their contents and application.

2. Session 2: Cold War is Over …Now What?

Feb 18

Description (mini-lecture + seminar): End of the Cold War came about abruptly without warning. It wasn’t too long before (not only) International Relations scholars begun to explain, predict and speculate on what does this mean for us and the near future in international politics.

3. Session 3: (Cold War is Over) How Come No One Saw It Coming?

Feb 25

Description (mini-lecture + seminar): The sudden end of the Cold War – a latent conflict which defined the structure of international politics for forty years – caught many scholars by surprise. For scholars of the 1990s it was “the thing” to explain and understand; it meant a blow to traditional theoretical explanations leading to a new era in IR scholarship.

4. Session 4: The “Unipolar Moment”

Mar 04

Description (mini-lecture + seminar): The end of the Cold War ushered in a new era of international politics: expansion of the Western institutions, rise in global economic exchange and few doubted that liberal internationalism isn’t the way to be. The West – victors of the Cold War –lead by the United States of America who stood as the “lone superpower”, the new “liberal hegemon” who finally had a chance to finish its project of Pax Americana…

5. Session 5: Globalization 2.0

Mar 11

Description (mini-lecture + seminar): Globalization, with its emphasis on economy, corporations, multilateral and intergovernmental institutions and a plethora of actors, challenges the traditional International Relations perspectives which are predominantly state-oriented.

6. Session 6: The European Integration Puzzle

Mar 18

Description (mini-lecture + seminar): European integration presents International Relations scholars with a puzzle – it’s not a state in the making, however, it’s not a simple grouping of states in an international organization either. How does it fit into the existing world order? How do conventional theories deal with this strange “beast”?

7. Session 7: GWOT

Mar 25

Description (mini-lecture + seminar): September 11 has been the defining moment of the new millennium. An unprecedented attack with thousands of casualties set in motion a thorough change in how we perceive and perform security and foreign policy today. Reactions to this event involved a re-appraisal of values – liberal or neoliberal – and for many the downfall of American post-Cold War hegemony started.

8. Session 8: Be More Human

Apr 01

Description (mini-lecture + seminar): Decline in inter-state conflict and redefinition of security to include until-then domestic problems such as terrorism brought about concerns for new security actors – individuals – on both sides of the conflict. Who needs protection? Who is the terrorist? And to intervene or not to intervene?

9. Session 9: Empire in Trouble

Apr 15

Description (mini-lecture + seminar): The war in Iraq, slow disengagement of the United States in the Middle East accompanied by a shift of attention to the Far East. Global economic crisis – the worst one since 1930s – all gave credit to the rising global unease with American leadership. Did the US do too much (damage)? Didn’t it do enough? Why do scholars think the American liberal orders is fading? Is it really?

10. Session 10: Will This Order Last? The Rise of China and Russia

Apr 22

Description (mini-lecture + seminar): If we indeed accept the premise that there is an ongoing shift in the current international order, necessarily we need to ask: what kind of shift are we dealing with? Will the current order weather the storm? Who are the competitors? ..and what comes next?

11. Session 11: End of the World? Global Warming and IR

Apr 29

Description (mini-lecture + seminar): Age of the Anthropocene is here! Climate change and threats going beyond the means (and borders) of traditional IR actors – states – represent a new development in the discipline. How do IR scholars react to this very real-life challenge?

12. Session 12: Voices from 'the Periphery'

May 06

Description (mini-lecture + seminar): Looking back on international relations scholarship of the past century, one cannot help but notice it originates primarily in the West. It is somewhat of a paradox that this discipline with a truly global scope ignored voices from the non-West for so long. In the twenty-first century, the tables are turning, and in this session, we’ll discuss what these authors have to say. Keep your minds open!

13. Session 13: Pop-culture in IR

May 13

Description (mini-lecture + seminar): International scholarship need not be only serious. Often culture and popular culture get in the way and they can offer us a perspective serious scholarship cannot.

14. Session 14: Final Exam

May 24

Description: Final exam based on the readings we covered throughout the semester. See assignment description below for details.

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