International Relations Immersion

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The international relations immersion combines the study of the complexities and shifting trends of international politics with the study of the global system. Particular emphasis is placed on the interactions and interconnectedness of nation-states at the international level and other participants in international affairs, such as international organizations, non-governmental organizations, sub-national entities, and individual citizens. Global issues studied include democratization, international and regional conflicts, terrorism, international trade and economic integration, economic development, international law and organizations, and human rights.

Notes about this immersion:

  • This immersion is closed to students majoring in political science.



Choose three of the following:*
   Ethics in International Politics
This course examines the role of ethics in international politics. It will address topics such as humanitarian intervention, just war, the ethics of immigration, international economic justice, accountability in international development aid, and the ethical role of international organizations and non-state actors. Special attention will be given to thinkers who discuss the promise and limits of ethics in international politics and who give an account of the force of international law in establishing ethical norms throughout international political history.
   Comparative Politics
The course provides a mode of analysis for the study of political systems. Basic concepts of political science are utilized to present a descriptive and analytical examination of various political systems that can be classified as liberal democracies, post-communist, newly industrializing countries, and Third World. Particular attention is paid to the governmental structure, current leadership and major issues of public policy of those selected political systems under review.
   Tech, Ethics & Global Politics
This course examines the mutual influence of science, technology and global politics within the framework of international ethics. Contemporary debates around drones, climate change, cyber security, the Ebola pandemic, hydraulic fracturing, renewable energy, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and nuclear power reveal the field of International Relations must take scientific and technological developments more seriously. In order to comprehend the mutual influence of science, technology, and global politics, the course will examine the political project of the early moderns, who sought the removal of traditional, moral restraints on scientific and technological innovations, as well as the international efforts to regulate scientific and technological innovation beginning in the twentieth century and continuing to the present day.
   Global Political Economy
Examines the interplay between states and markets, as well as the interaction of the global economy and international politics. The course will cover political economy, political ideology, global trade, international capital investment, debt, the integration of national financial markets, and the impact of globalization on society and the environment.
   Environmental Ethics and Political Ecology
This course examines environmental issues through a variety of political and ethical perspectives. The goal of the course is to understand how the meaning of political and ethical concepts (e.g., citizenship, justice, responsibility, security, sovereignty) have been broadened or reinterpreted in light of the ascendancy of environmentalism. For instance, the course will cover questions concerning whether environmentalism has encouraged a more precautionary sort of politics, especially in regard to agricultural biotechnology, along with how it has transformed the traditional military definition of security to include new notions such as climate or food security. To address these questions and issues, the course fosters an appreciation of the ethical reasoning of the interdisciplinary field known as political ecology. An emphasis on the ethical reasoning of political ecology will facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of environmental issues through unraveling the political forces at work in environmental change at both the global and local levels.
   American Foreign Policy
A study of the formulation and execution of American foreign policy, including the examination of the instruments, procedures, and philosophies shaping the development of foreign policy.
   International Law and Organizations
The study of international law and organizations is the study of international cooperation and governance. The course will cover a variety of theoretical and substantive topics including the theories of international law and organizations, the historical development of international organizations, how these organizations work in practice, and whether they are effective. Emphasis will be placed on the United Nations and the role and usefulness of nongovernmental organizations in international organization. Several of the substantive issues discussed are interstate violence and attempts to address humanitarian concerns, globalizations, and the environment.
   Human Rights in Global Perspective
This course explores the theoretical meaning, both domestically and internationally, and the institutional and political aspects of human rights. Issues covered include the definition of human rights; the relationship between civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights; the meaning and impact of humanitarian and international human rights law; the impact of cultural relativism in the definition and assessment of the promotion and protection of human rights; the significance of different religious perspectives; the question of the legitimacy of humanitarian interventions and the effects of globalization on human rights perceptions and practices.
   Politics of Developing Countries
This course explores the ways in which the historical, cultural, economic and political contexts of societies of Africa, Asia and Latin America determines the patterns of their political processes. Focus is directed to such factors as history, religion, economic underdevelopment, and culture and their impact on the efforts to promote liberalization and democratization, economic and social modernization, and political and social stability.
   Politics of East Asia
This course examines the East-Asian countries using the following comparative criteria as the organizing guidelines: modern political history of the country, political economy and development, governance and policy making, representation and participation, as well as major domestic and foreign policy issues. The political prospects of the countries for the 21st century will be analyzed and discussed.
   International Political Thought
The course provides a general overview of international themes, ethical principles, and issues that are taken into consideration in international political thought. Possible topics may include theoretical analyses of the ideas of sovereignty, nationalism, hegemony, imperialism, global civil society, political theology, balance of power, collective security, just war, perpetual peace, and human rights. Guiding themes of the course will be a reflection upon the nature of political legitimacy in the international context and the tension between political justifications based upon necessity and those based upon justice. In reading the major political thinkers students will be encouraged to reflect upon the challenge of reconciling ethical obligations to one’s own community with those of humanity in general.
   Cyberwar, Robots, & the Future of Conflict
This course examines how advances in computer science, robotics, biotechnology and other emerging technologies are being applied to organized violence. Emphasized are the ways that lethal uses of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), warbots with artificial intelligence, cyber-attacks, and other emerging technologies are changing or will change the character of war and the societies that enact it. Special attention is given to the ethical and legal dilemmas these technologies present to citizens, states, and the international community, assessing both the harm and the good that they make possible.
   Evolutionary International Relations
This course examines the biological explanations of international conflict. Topics will include the evolutionary approach to human behavior, international conflict, and the relevance for evolutionary explanations as an alternative or supplement to current paradigms of international relations like realism and rational choice. Finally, the course will look at what an evolutionary understanding of politics means for peace-keeping missions, global governance, and the stability of international cooperation.
   War and the State
Explores the enduring reality of war through an analysis of regional and global conflicts since the establishment of the modern international system. Key concepts include deterrence, appeasement, offensive-defensive military strategies, and international balances of power. These will be applied to several historical cases to explain why wars occur and how they might be avoided.
   Terrorism and Political Violence
This course examines the causes, methods, and responses of non-state groups attempting to establish new political orders. The combined use of violence with the tactic of terror distinguishes these groups from others seeking political change. Special attention will be given to national and international efforts attempting to resolve such conflicts.
   Comparative Public Policy
Modernization theorists predict, industrial and post-industrial societies tend to face similar public policy issues in such areas as public education, health care, public transportation, public housing and the environment. However, the political responses to these challenges have varied in significant ways in different countries. Many states have developed extensive welfare state systems, while some have put more emphasis on market-based solutions. The course seeks to explore and analyze the factors that explain these differences and assess the extent to which the different approaches succeed in meeting these policy challenges.
   Peacekeeping and Conflict Transformation
This course will provide an introduction to the dynamics of post war stabilization and reconstruction. It will address the complexities of the transformation from war to peace, including interdependent politics, security, legal and economic elements. Students will discuss these patterns in the cases in Eurasia, the Middle East and Africa. Students will learn about analysis, planning, operations, and reporting used in national and multilateral agencies.
   War, Diplomacy, and State-Building
This course will explore the process by which states disintegrate and fail, the armed conflicts that follow, and international peacekeeping and subsequent efforts to build institutions at the end of armed conflicts. It will consider cases that might include the wars of Yugoslav Succession, conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, Syria and others. Students will consider the role of domestic and international actors, such as NATO, the US Government, the UN, and others. They will explore these efforts in readings, class discussion, debates, presentation of research, and role-playing exercises.

* At least one course must be taken at the 300-level or higher.