IR 210: Introduction to International Relations COURSE DESCRIPTION This course provides an

IR 210: Introduction to International Relations
This course provides an introduction to the academic study of international relations. That is different than a course on the history of international relations or a course on current events in foreign policy. Current events and history are the raw material of international relations, what we seek to explain and what we use to test our claims. International relations purports to be a social science. What does that mean? Generally it means we aim to explain (rather than just describe) why things happen in a systematic fashion. But offering a convincing explanation is difficult, even if we mimic the tools used by natural sciences.
International relations draws extensively on other disciplines. In this class, I will show you how thinking about our field as a sociologist, an economist, a psychologist and even a biologist leads people to different conclusions but also opens up different questions. One of my goals for this class is to show you how the questions faced in the study of international relations are the same faced by everyone because international relations is the product of human behavior. If you have more questions than answers at the end of this course, but also more tools at your disposal to figure out things on your own, I have done my job.
The course will be designed to encourage students to approach international relations in a more sophisticated and theoretically grounded manner. If we are successful, by the end of the course, students should:
Develop a more comprehensive understanding of the various theoretical positions and the roles these theories play in our understanding of the international system. (Knowledge-building)
You will be able to describe the core assumptions of theorists from all approaches.
You will be able to identify the similarities and differences between theories.
You will be able to identify how someone with a particular worldview constructs the world in terms of policy priorities and responses to those problems.
Understand the relationship between theory and policy-making in the international system. (Problem-solving)
You will be able to identify how policy-makers with a particular worldview are likely to respond to a given global challenge.
You will be introduced to levels of analysis that we use to explain foreign policy decision-making.
Develop an appreciation of the fact that your own worldview is not universally shared and that other worldviews and theoretical assumptions may need to be considered before one has a full understanding of a situation. (Values and attitudes)
You will understand how you construct the world. You will explore your own worldview and understand how it both limits and liberates in terms of your pursuit of the good life.
Enhance their ability to understand the international system and thereby increase their capacity to act or participate at various levels in the international system. (Participation and action)
You will be able to identify how power is organized and who the key players in the system are and what role they play.
You will be able to identify opportunities for civic engagement and participation in the policy processes at local and global levels.
Controversy rules in the field of international relations. We disagree about what we study and how we study the world around us. In our complex world, we cannot afford to dismiss any legitimate source of information. People see the world through different filters and they then use this information to evaluate, analyze, and eventually, to act. Knowing the factors that shape the various worldviews is an important starting point for international relations scholars. As a critical thinker you might want to frequently ask the following questions:
20%: Midterm on Wednesday, March 9.
25%: Final exam on Monday, May 9 from 2-4 in our regular classroom.
10%: Annotated bibliography on one of four topics for later debate, due on Friday,
March 25 at 12pm.
5%: in-class debates beginning March 28.
15%: Section grade based both on weekly participation (not just attendance) and
active learning assignments in section.
10%: First paper on the ethics of international relations due Friday, February 11 at
12pm. Paper prompt under the Assignment section on Blackboard. Roughly 1,000 words.
15%: Second paper on the possibility of change in the nature of international relations
due on Friday, April 29 at 12pm. Paper prompt under the Assignment section on Blackboard. Roughly 1,000 words.
Grading for assignments submitted on blackboard (the bibliography, papers, midterm and final are going to be distributed randomly and equally to teaching assistants and graded anonymously on Blackboard so as to mitigate against any potential bias. Once all exams are graded the Blackboard system will remove the anonymity allowing you to see your grade and the comments provided by the graders. This means that your exam will not necessarily be graded by your discussion leader.
Grade Conversion Scale:
Course final grades will be determined using the following scale. There will be no rounding up.
A         94-100
A-        90-93
B+       87-89
B         83-86
B-        80-82
C+       77-79
C         73-76
C-        70-72
D+       67-69
D         63-66
D-        60-62
F          59 and below
Readings: All readings will be uploaded on the Blackboard system. Readings are difficult, especially for an intro course, but hopefully more interesting and stimulating than textbooks. All readings will be discussed during lectures. Readings have two main purposes: 1) to buttress the course lectures, 2) to contend with for your course papers. You should not be expected to read every article in-depth, but you will be expected to engage with them for your course papers.
I. Liberals, Realists and the Origins of the International Relations Field
Realism (January 12)
Hans J. Morgenthau, “Six Principles of Political Realism,” pp. 19-27 (in Art and Jervis)
Hans J. Morgenthau, “The Promise of Diplomacy” pp. 550-558 (in Art and Jervis)
Liberalism (January 19)
Michael W. Doyle, “Kant, Liberal Legacies and Foreign Affairs,” pp. 139-153 (in Art and Jervis).
Criticisms of realism and liberalism as Eurocentric (January 24)
W.E.B. Dubois, “African Roots of War,” Atlantic Monthly (May 1915)
David C. Kang and Xinru Ma, “Power Transitions: Thucydides Didn’t Live in
East Asia,” The Washington Quarterly 41:1 (2018): 137-154.
Neta Crawford, “A security regime among democracies: cooperation among Iroquois nations,” International Organization 48:3 (1994), pp.345-385 (SKIP HIGHLIGHTED PORTION).
II. Morality in International Affairs
a. Realism and Ethics (January 26)
E.H. Carr, The Twenty Years’ Crisis (New York: Harper, 1964), pp. 41-42, 67-88.
Morgenthau, Hans J, “The evil of politics and the ethics of evil,” Ethics 56: 1 (1945): 1-18.
b. Liberalism and Ethics (January 31)
David Lumsdaine, Moral Vision in International Politics: The Foreign Aid Regime, 1949-1989 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), pp. 3-29.
Martha Finnemore, The Purpose of Intervention (Cornell University Press, 2003), ch. 3.
Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, “Transnational Activist Networks,” pp. 8-29 (in Art and Jervis).
c.Non-liberal ethics (February 2)
Rachel Stein, Vengeful Citizens, Violent States: A Theory of War and Revenge, pp. 1-21.
III. The Scientification of International Relations
Objectivity, generalization and science (February 7, 9)
Gabriel A. Almond and Stephen J. Genco, “Clocks, Clouds and the Study of Politics,” World Politics, Vol. 29, No. 4 (1977) (READ ONLY HIGHLIGHTED SECTION).
E.H. Carr, The Twenty Years’ Crisis (New York: Harper, 1964), pp. 1-13.
Ann Tickner, “What is your research program? Some feminist answers to international relations methodological questions,” International Studies Quarterly 49(1), pp. 1-10 (NOT THE ENTIRE PIECE).
Systemic thinking (February 16)
Kenneth Waltz, “The Anarchic Structure of World Politics,” pp. 48-69 (in Art and Jervis)
Daniel Chirot and Thomas D. Hall, “World-system theory,” Annual Review of Sociology 8: 1 (1982), pp. 81-106 (READ ONLY HIGHLIGHTED SECTION).
The domestic level of analysis (February 21)
Beth A. Simmons, Mobilizing for human rights: international law in domestic politics. Cambridge University Press (2009), ch. 4
IV. Economistic Approaches to International Relations
Collective action and cooperation problems (February 23)
Robert Jervis, “Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma,” pp. 125-138 (in Art and Jervis).
Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” pp. 480-485 (in Art and Jervis).
Elinor Ostrom, “Tragedy of the commons,” The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Vol 2, Palgrave Press (2008).
Resolve, costly signaling and commitment problems (February 28)
Thomas Schelling, “The Art of Commitment” in Arms and Influence (Yale University Press, 1962), pp. 35-59 (NOT THE ENTIRE CHAPTER).
James D. Fearon, “Rationalist Explanations for War,” pp. 95-103 (in Art and Jervis).
Domestic institutions and rational choice (March 2)
Sara Croco, “The decider’s dilemma: Leader culpability, war outcomes, and domestic punishment,” American Political Science Review 105:3 (2011), pp. 457-477.
Applications of rationalist approaches (March 7)
Andrew H. Kydd and Barbara F. Walter, “The Strategies of Terrorism,” International Security, Vol. 31, No. 1 (2006), pp. 49-80.
MIDTERM (March 9)
V. Sociological Approaches to International Relations
Constructivist critique of realism (March 21)
Alexander Wendt, “Anarchy is What States Make of It,” pp. 78-86 (in Art and Jervis).
Ian Hurd, “Legitimacy in International Politics,” International Organization 53:2(1999), pp. 379-385 (THIS IS ONLY THE FIRST HALF OF THE PIECE).
Norms and taboos (March 23)
Nina Tannenwald, “The nuclear taboo: The United States and the normative basis of nuclear non-use,” International Organization 53: 3(1999), pp. 433-468.
Neta Crawford, Argument and Change in World Politics: Ethics, Decolonization and Humanitarian Intervention, Cambridge University Press (2002), ch. 7.
Status and honor (March 28)
Joslyn Barnhart, “Status competition and territorial aggression: evidence from the scramble for Africa,” Security Studies, 25: 3(2016): pp. 385-419.
VI. Psychological Approaches to International Relations
Heuristics and bias (March 30)
Yuen Foong Khong, Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the Vietnam Decisions of 1965, ch. 2.
Belief systems and belief perseverance (April 4, 6)
Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton University Press, 1976), ch. 3.
Thinking styles, Emotions and intuitions (April 11)
Keren Yarhi-Milo, “In the Eye of the Beholder: How Leaders and Intelligence Communities Assess the Intentions of Adversaries”, International Security 38:1 (2013), pp. 7-51.
VII: Biological Approaches to International Relations
Evolutionary psychology (April 13)
Dominic Johnson and Dominic Tierney, “Bad world: The negativity bias in international politics,” International Security 43:3 (2019), pp. 96-124.
Ingroup identity and group formation (April 18)
Marilyn Brewer, “The psychology of prejudice: Ingroup love or outgroup hate?” Journal of social issues 55:3 (1999), pp. 429-444.
Gender and international relations (April 20)
Joslyn Trager, Robert Trager, Allan Dafoe and Elizabeth Saunders, “The Suffragist peace.”
Mark van Vugt, David De Cremer, and Dirk P. Janssen. “Gender differences in cooperation and competition: The male-warrior hypothesis.” Psychological science 18, no. 1 (2007): 19-23.
Evolution of Morality (April 25)
Brian Rathbun,”Towards a dual process model of foreign policy ideology,” Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 34 (2020): 211-216.