Fall 2024: European, African, and Asian Adventure

POLS 232 International Relations [CRN 70730]

Overview of Course

This course introduces students to main concepts, principles, and theories of international relations. To understand the current state of the world, we will examine the evolution of the international system, the role of power, conflict, and cooperation in policymaking, then discuss state and non-state actors and the various settings of their interactions—from diplomacy to war to transnational organizations to international political economy within the “global commons.” We will pay special attention to the promotion of (and threats to) peace and security, to economic and cultural globalization, environmental issues, and human rights around the world. Our voyage brings us to some of the most fascinating and strategically important regions of the world, and we will apply theoretical explanations to our observations on the ground. What useful insights can the discipline offer to explain the boatloads of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, water scarcity politics of Jordan, the centrality of Suez Canal, the soft power of Mumbai’s Bollywood, modern piracy in Somalia, or the “string of pearls” Chinese maritime bases along our route? How can notions of sovereignty, national interest, and international law help us understand the tensions over the South China Sea that we will be crossing twice? As we are witnessing an erosion of traditional institutions and of a rule-based global system, this is a crucial moment and a fantastic opportunity to engage in a serious—but also fun—evidence-based reflection on the state of international relations today.