Sara McLaughlin

Spring 1998


Introduction to International Relations

INR 2002


This course provides an introduction to key contemporary international problems and the means to analyze them. Major parts of the course cover such topics as the dynamics of conflict and cooperation, the processes of foreign policy decision-making, major international economic issues, and basic future trends in global politics. The course also provides an overview of the primary perspectives and analytical approaches for studying world politics. The overall objective is to give students sufficient awareness of the interaction of political, technological, economic, and social factors to permit a critical appreciation of the contemporary international environment and ways of thinking about the future.


Course Requirements

Your final course grade is calculated as follows:

Class Attendance 5%

Class Presentation 10%

Take Home Assignment 5%

Research Paper 20%

Midterm Exam 25%

Final Exam 35%

Class Attendance

You are expected to attend class regularly and take notes. I will take attendance each class period at the beginning of class. Attendance and participation in class will account for 5% of your final course grade. You will be allowed to miss one lecture throughout the semester that will not count against your final attendance grade. I will use material for lecture that is not covered in the readings. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to get the lecture notes from a classmate. I will not, under any circumstances, give my lecture notes to students.

Class Presentation

Each student will be required to lead a debate on a given topic with one other student. The class presentations are scheduled on four days: February 13th, February 27th, April 3rd, and April 17th. You will sign up for one of the topics listed on the syllabus. I will give each student a copy of two short articles that outline both sides of the debate over the given topic. In addition to presenting one side of the debate in class, you will need to summarize your position in a 1-2 page paper that will be due the day of your presentation.

Take Home Assignment

There will be no classes the week after spring break (March 16-March 20) because I will be attending a conference in Minneapolis. During this period, I expect you to complete a brief assignment that will be handed out on Wednesday, March 4th. It will be due in class on Monday, March 23rd.

Research Paper

You will write a five-page essay in response to a question that will be distributed at least three weeks before the paper is due. In the paper you will make an argument and support it with evidence from the readings and class discussion. Your goal is to demonstrate sophisticated analytical and critical thinking about the topic in question. The research paper is due on Friday, April 10th. I will not accept late papers under any circumstances and you will receive a zero if you do not turn in the research paper on time.


There are two exams in this course, a midterm exam and a comprehensive final exam. The format of the exams is a combination of short answer and essay questions. The midterm exam is scheduled on Monday, March 2nd, and the final exam is scheduled on Friday, May 1st from 7:30-9:30am. Make-up exams will be given only to students with medical or personal emergencies (death in the family). If an emergency arises, you will need to contact me before the exam or you will receive zero credit. I will be strict on this policy.

Required Readings

Kegley, Charles W., Jr. and Eugene R. Wittkopf. 1997. World Politics: Trend and Transformation. New York: St. Martins Press.

Vasquez, John A. and Marie T. Henehan. 1992. The Scientific Study of Peace and War: A Text Reader. New York: Lexington Books.


Outline of Topics and Weekly Readings

Wednesday, Jan. 7, Introduction and Overview of Course

Friday, Jan. 9, A Theoretical Approach for the Study of International Relations

Monday, Jan. 12, Realism and Neorealism

Wednesday, Jan. 14, Liberalism and Idealism

Friday, Jan. 16, The Modern State System

Monday, Jan. 19 , No Class, Martin Luther King Day

Wednesday, Jan. 21, International and Internal Determinants of Foreign Policy Behavior

Friday, Jan. 23, Conceptualization and Measurement of Conflict

Monday, Jan. 26 , Power and Instruments of Power

Wednesday, Jan. 28, Balance of Power and Polarity I

Friday, Jan. 30, Balance of Power and Polarity II

Monday, Feb. 2, Hegemony

Wednesday, Feb. 4, Alliances and Great Power War

Friday, Feb. 6, Capability Distribution, Uncertainty, and Major Power War

Monday, Feb. 9, Power Transition Theory

Wednesday, Feb. 11, Arms Races and War

Friday, Feb. 13, Student Presentations

Topic 1: Has the world become a more dangerous place since the end of the Cold War?

Topic 2: Is it wise to expand NATO membership?

Monday, Feb. 16, Coercive Diplomacy and Bargaining

Wednesday, Feb. 18, Rational Choice Theories of War

Friday, Feb. 20, Great Power Politics

Monday, Feb. 23, Liberal Paths to Peace

Wednesday, Feb. 25, Ethnic Conflict and Nationalism

Friday, Feb. 27, Student Presentations

Topic 3: Is Islamic fundamentalism a threat to political stability?

Topic 4: Is nationalism destructive?

Monday, Mar. 2, MIDTERM EXAM

Wednesday, Mar. 4, Inside the State: The Limitations of Realism

Friday, Mar. 6, Liberalism, Mercantilism, and Hegemony

Monday, Mar. 9, No Class, Spring Break

Wednesday, Mar. 11, No Class, Spring Break

Friday, Mar. 13, No Class, Spring Break

Monday, Mar. 16, No Class, International Studies Association Meetings

Wednesday, Mar. 18, No Class, International Studies Association Meetings

Friday, Mar. 20, No Class, International Studies Association Meetings

Monday, Mar. 23, Bretton Woods

Wednesday, Mar. 25, International Trade

Friday, Mar. 27, European Union, North American Free Trade Agreement

Monday, Mar. 30, International Organizations/United Nations

Wednesday, Apr. 1, International Monetary Policy

Friday, Apr. 3, Student Presentations

Topic 5: Should China be admitted to the World Trade Organization?

Topic 6: Is the current trend toward global economic integration desirable?

Monday, Apr. 6, North-South Gap

Wednesday, Apr. 8, Theories of Underdevelopment

Friday, Apr. 10, Multinational Corporations

Monday, Apr. 13, Globalization I

Wednesday, Apr. 15, Globalization II

Friday, Apr. 17, Student Presentations

Topic 7: Should the developed North increase aid to the less developed South?

Topic 8: Should foreign policy makers minimize human rights concerns?

Monday, Apr. 20, The Demography of World Politics

Wednesday, Apr. 22, The Ecology of World Politics

Friday, Apr. 24, Toward the 21st Century

Friday, May 1, FINAL EXAM, 7:30-9:30am