Document Type

Undergraduate Syllabus


Spring 2023



Course Number

DIPL 3116

Course Description

This seminar-like course is focused on global challenges facing not just U.S. policy makers but statesmen, diplomats and citizens around the world. The primary focus will be upon the successes and failures encountered in global development in a period marked by numerous positives - overall reductions in violence, longer lives, poverty reduction, improved education - balanced against a daunting array of unresolved global challenges and threats, ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty, climate change/global warming and nuclear proliferation to racial tension, ethnic conflict and international terrorism. Central to the ongoing debate is reflection upon the ability of national leaders to preserve an international order capable of rising above mere anarchy and clashing national interests to promote peace, stability and mutual benefits.

The transition from former President Donald Trump's America First approach to international affairs to a more traditional effort to reassert American global leadership under President Joseph Biden provides an opportunity for study and in-depth reflection. These efforts to right the ship of state have encountered strong headwinds that include Vladimir Putin's aggression against independent Ukraine, worsening U.S-China relations and growing economic and financial uncertainty in the post pandemic world. Critical topics to be examined and discussed include: the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Great Power Competition, nuclear proliferation, international migration challenges, climate change and the race to dominate cyberspace.

The course will examine cooperative efforts aimed at advancing shared interests, securing international cooperation and protecting the global commons. Particular attention will be paid to multilateral agreements and institutions, international norms and laws and cooperative efforts in a period of international turbulence.

Washington, D.C. is a very cosmopolitan, international city. Serious effort will be made to understand how the people who reside here, American and otherwise, are shaped by the international environment and how they in turn undertake to influence and shape developments on the global stage. When possible, students will be given the chance to interact with present and past policy makers.

The course to the extent possible will be conducted in seminar fonn based on discussions, reflections, debates and interactions between the seminar leader and the students. Where possible and pertinent, lectures, readings and seminar discussion will be supplemented with in-class discussion with policy practitioners. Sadly, the persistence of COVID-19 limits our ability to visit centers of decision-making and influence that will include government offices, the Congress, think tanks, NGOs, multilateral and regional organizations and foreign embassies.

One caveat: This syllabus is not set in stone, especially in a period of rapid developments on the domestic and international scenes. The seminar leader reserves the right to alter readings and assignments and discussion topics in response to emerging policy challenges and significant events.