Overview of Course
This course introduces students to the theories, structures, actors, and context of contemporary world politics. We begin by "thinking about how we think" about world politics. What theories, analytic perspectives, and methods of inquiry do policy makers and political scientists use to understand world politics and make policies? How do they differ? What are the consequences of thinking in different ways about world politics? Then we lay the foundation for understanding world politics by studying the history and structure of relationships among states. This includes great power rivalry (World Wars I, II and the Cold War); European imperialism and its aftermath; the experience of developing countries; the interdependence of economic and security interests; and the increasingly important role of non-state actors (i.e. UN, EU, MNCs, ethnic groups).
Next, we take up the classic problems of war, peace, international security, international law, and organization. We will find out what political science research says about the causes of war and violence, and the prospect for managing violence through the development of international law, diplomacy, negotiation, and intervention. The final chapters survey the “soft politics” of social and economic issues including international finance, trade and economic development, environmental and resource concerns, and human rights. The final reading looks at the present world system from the perspective of the world’s Indigenous peoples.