The world of the 21st century is one marked by tensions between nation states and multinationals, between interconnectedness and tribalism, between global institutions and diverse traditions. The goal of this course is to introduce students to basic concepts, practices, and theories of international relations that enable them to understand and participate in contemporary debates in international politics. It is also a course designed to engage with the countries and societies visited during the voyage, to help recognize commonalities amidst divergent worldviews, and vice versa.
We shall study events both current and of the recent past that have shaped how states and non-state actors interact with each other across national borders. Texts, stories, films, and news pieces will form the basis of class discussions, debates and role-play for a “hands-on” approach to questions of global order and governance, diplomacy and warfare, alliances and economic dependencies, and the prevalent theories in the academic analysis of international politics.
*Note: This class is delivered when lunch is served.
Field WorkCountry: South Africa
Date: March 23, 2020
Cape Town is many things: it is known as Africa’s ‘Mother City’ but was founded by Dutch settlers; it has overcome the racial divisions of apartheid, but it still suffers from extreme inequality; it lies on the ocean, but made headlines in 2018 for an imminent extreme water shortage; Cape Town is emblematic of global trends of both the past and the future. Course students will engage with municipal leaders and representatives to understand the experiences and challenges of this city. They will also visit Stellenbosch University to meet with IR scholars to discuss South Africa’s position in Africa and the world, and what lessons the country’s experiences may offer.
1. Explore global issues of the past (European colonization & world trade), the 20th century (divisions by racism & capitalism), and the future (challenges to democracy & human survival through climate change)
2. Meet scholars and students from one of Africa’s top universities and understand international issues from a starkly different part of the world
3. Discuss South Africa’s position in Africa and the world, incl. multinational organizations such as BRICS