Document Type

Undergraduate Syllabus


Fall 2017



Course Number

DIPL 1711 AA, AC

Course Description

This course is intended as an introduction to the study of international relations (IR). The course is both theoretical and historical. Students will be expected to attain a firm grasp of major theories, concepts, and controversies in the field of international relations, as well as the significance of important historical events to shaping contemporary world politics. The central theme of the course is the relationship between theory, history, and practice: how do our theories of world politics and the lessons we draw from historical events shape our understanding of the contemporary world? The course is divided into three parts. First, we discuss the practice of interpretation and the concept of interpretive frameworks. We also introduce the central structure of international relations: the Westphalian, anarchic nation-state system. Second, we study four leading theories and frameworks for interpreting world politics: Realism, Liberalism, Constructivism, and Gender. Third, we examine the events and ideas that have most profoundly shaped the theory and practice of world politics today. Here we focus on the watershed events of the past century, giving particular emphasis to the effects of inter­ state wars on the conduct of world politics and on the nature of the international system. As we travel through history, we explore the roots of contemporary issues on the international agenda, including the causes of war, the role of international law and the United Nations, the advent of WMD, the global economy, international human rights, and the rise of the Military Industrial Complex.