Document Type

Undergraduate Syllabus


Spring 2020



Course Number

DIPL 2144/DIPL 6710

Course Description

The beginning of the 21st century appears to be an exciting and a hopeful period in Africa. Unlike the 1960-1990, where various indicators pointed to Africa’s persistent dismal scores in terms of economic, political, social, and cultural development, the indicators in the last decade point in the opposite direction. These include decreases in the magnitude of war, increases in popular demand for more openness and transparency; popular resistance to extended tenure of long-time leaders, economic progress over the last few years that surpassed many other regions of the world, and increases in the frequency of elections and peaceful transfers of power. This trend, which began in the mid-1990s, continued at a more rapid pace, especially after the African Union (AU) was established in 2000.

This course examines factors that gave rise to positive developments and the sense of optimism that prevails in Africa today, with emphasis on the role of the AU in the resolution and management of conflicts. That is, how does the AU see conflicts in Africa? What is its role in international affairs? How and in what ways does it manage its relationships with international organizations, such as the UN, EU, and the Arab League; and with sub-regional organizations, such as the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and Southern African Development Community (SADC)? What is the role of IOs, NGOs, and other actors (perhaps in support of and coordination with the AU) in peace, stability, and economic progress in Africa? How does it function as an international organization consisting of more than 50 states, each having different political and economic systems, and national security objectives? How does it face the challenges posed by the plurality of religious, ethnic, and other cultural markers? How does it deal with African countries that have closer ties with western countries than with each other?

Unlike some of the other courses I teach, this course is more policy-oriented. As students of Diplomacy and International Relations, you are also expected and encouraged to think in terms of whether or not the issues you raise have policy relevance. Therefore, the research paper should address policy-related, conflict and conflict resolution-related issues, relevant to the AU and African countries and the US. The instructor hopes that, by the end of the course term, each student will have developed an increased interest in the study of the AU, and how it navigates its way through the rough contours of international diplomacy.