Document Type

Undergraduate Syllabus


Fall 2023



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 examines general issues related to the rise of politicized ethnicity around the world. These include 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 covered briefly. Towards the end of the semester, formulas for accommodation of cultural pluralism in multi-ethnic societies will be explored.

Furthermore, the course will cover important cases in greater detail. These cases include, Quebec, Croatia and Serbia (Former Yugoslavia), “Kurdistan” (Iraq), Ukraine, Quebec (Canada), and Northern Ireland. These cases have been selected because of:

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

(2) Contrast: Quebec (Canada) and South Africa, (and Northern Ireland ??) have managed issues related to their “multiculturalism” in a civil way. However, in the remaining cases – “Kurdistan,” the former Yugoslavia, and Ukraine the ethnic/national conflicts have been violent, and the then prevailing cultural divide have resulted in problems of mammoth proportions.

In addition, students will 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 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 PowerPoint (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.