Document Type

Undergraduate Syllabus


Spring 2020



Course Number


Course Description

This course is designed to introduce students to the process and difficulties of managing global problems through different forms of global governance. Although for the past few centuries, nation-states have been and continue to be the major actors in world politics, alternative actors—including intergovernmental, non-governmental organizations, transnational social movements, and, in some instances, private corporations—have emerged to address problems that nation-states either cannot or will not. In some instances, these newer international institutions have been created directly to counter the enormous power of nation-states themselves. Two critical questions will underlie our discussions in this course: First, to what extent are existing institutions of global governance well-suited to tackling global problems? Second, are these institutions, including nation-states, responsive and accountable to the world’s citizens?

To investigate these questions, and to gain a better understanding of the role that institutions of global governance play in addressing global problems, we begin the course by reviewing the evolution of global institutions and the theories that underlie the role they play to provide order and address problems in international relations. We then turn our focus to four major global problem areas: international security threats; economic globalization and economic security; human rights and human security; and the global environment. All are problems that extend beyond national borders, and require some type of collective, coordinated, transnational response.

If the course succeeds, students should gain a better understanding of the context, scope, and complexity of some of the most critical problems facing all of us in the 21st century. They should also be able to identify and assess critically the types of institutional channels through which these problems are being addressed, and to think analytically about the varying perspectives that different international actors bring to every problem. Finally, by the end of the course, students should be familiar with the scholarly debates about the role and efficacy of institutions of global governance.