Document Type

Undergraduate Syllabus


Fall 2022



Course Number


Course Description

This course surveys the politics of cultural and ethnic/national pluralism, understood in terms of the diversity in cultural, linguistic, religious and other socio-demographic variables that are shaping the contemporary world, and their impact on the international system and the practice of international relations. The course focuses on the salient issues that have taken center stage in the modern world, and deals with general issues related to the rise of politicized ethnicity and other cultural cleavages around the world. This includes examination of the possible factors that contributed to the rise of ethnic, religious, linguistic and other parochial attachments, and the accompanying political meanings they assume. In addition, theories that purport to explain ethnic/national group solidarities will be briefly explained. Towards the end of the semester, formulas for accommodation of cultural pluralism in multi-ethnic societies will be explored.

Furthermore, the course will cover some important cases in greater detail. These cases include, Quebec, Serbia and Croatia (Former Yugoslavia, "Kurdistan" (Iraq), Ukraine, Quebec (Canada), and South Sudan. These cases have been selected for various reasons, including:

(1) Representativeness: taken together, the cases are broadly representative of current ethno-nationalist currents around the world.

(2) Currency: each case may be understood in the context of the emerging New World Order and global governance. That is, each has been affected by post-Cold War developments.

(3) Contrast: Canada (and South Africa) has so far managed issues related to its multiculturalism in a civil way. However, in the remaining cases - "Kurdistan," the former Yugoslavia, Ukraine, and South Sudan - - the ethnic/national conflicts have been violent, and the prevailing cultural divide have resulted in problems of mammoth proportions.

Students will also have the opportunity to explore additional cases in-depth through research of different cases. The cases will be assigned to groups of three students, who together, will form a group and conduct a detailed study on the nature, evolution, causes, dynamics, actors, and attempted resolution mechanisms in each of the cases. The course concludes with student PPT presentation of research findings and submission of a term paper.

To this end, the course examines national and ethnic identities around the globe and their impact on the human condition. The instructor hopes that, by the time the course topics are covered, each student will have developed increased interest in the study of cultural pluralism and an appreciation of the extent to which ethnicity and nationalism have become salient in national and international politics at the beginning of the 21st century.