International Relations Minor

Overview for International Relations Minor

The international relations minor helps students to make sense of the world through exploring ideas that have shaped it. Students explore the thoughts of various thinkers and approaches to international relations and use these perspectives to understand key themes in world politics. Important topics include democratization, globalization, terrorism, war and peace, human rights, and international law. Students reflect upon the interplay between domestic and international politics and how changes in the world order affect the internal politics of various countries.

Notes about this minor:

  • Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.
  • Notations may appear in the curriculum chart below outlining pre-requisites, co-requisites, and other curriculum requirements (see footnotes).

The plan code for International Relations Minor is INTREL-MN.

Curriculum Update in Process for 2024-2025 for International Relations Minor

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

Required Course
Introduction to International Relations
The purpose of this course is to provide a basic knowledge of the field of international relations. Among the topics to be addressed are key theoretical concepts, themes and controversies in the field such as: important state and non-state actors in international politics, security, economic relations between states, levels of analysis, and schools of thought. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Choose four 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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
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. Lecture 3 (Spring).
 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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
Global Political Economy
The world’s economic environments are changing rapidly with globalization. New patterns in the international economy or fresh fields of a global economy require a reexamination of the basic concepts to remember, like power and efficiency, and the traditional roles played by leading actors in the world market: private businesses, individual governments, and international organizations. This course provides insights into understanding the relationship among the key players in the globalizing economy, most importantly interactions between the state and market. Classic viewpoints to explain international economy, like Mercantilism, Liberalism, and Marxism, will be critically reviewed and applied to various current cross-state economic affairs. Each perspective contains ethical and pragmatic concerns about human life and their interactions, conflicting or cooperative. What is right and what is good calls for a perpetual struggle to find the best combination in the practical field of trade or finance. So, critical evaluations of the perspectives are essential in this class to developing creative ideas appropriate for the transforming realities of globalization. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
 Artificial Intelligence and the Political Good
This course examines the political promises and challenges of artificial intelligence (AI) through the consideration of the technological trajectories and possible scenarios of advanced AI. Possible discussion topics may include: The compatibility of AI with the political principles of liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness to understanding what an AI arms race between countries might entail. Domestically, will the prospect of greater job automation produce mass unemployment with severe consequences? Globally, will the weaponization of AI make going to war easier? Questions like these are inherently political and the movement toward greater AI capabilities raises the more general question of whether humanity will be able to regulate, both domestically and globally, a technology that promises to surpass all technology that has gone before it. This course will seek to anticipate and prepare for the risks that advanced AI poses to domestic and global politics. The goal will be to think about how advanced AI can be prudentially oriented toward beneficial practices for the sake of the political good. Lecture 3 (Spring).
 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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
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. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
International Law and Organizations
International Law and Organizations is the study of justice and government among nations. The course covers a range of theoretical and substantive topics, including theories of international law, the ethical foundations that underlie these theories, the historical development of international law, and the historical development and effectiveness of international organizations. There is a focus on the historical development of international law, examining the ethical dilemmas it presents, and exploring how these dilemmas manifest themselves in the United Nations and other international organizations. The course addresses various substantive issues such as war, sovereignty, natural law, humanitarianism, the ethical implications of existing international organizations and proposed reforms, and the influence of hegemonic power. (Prerequisites: POLS-120 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
Human Rights in Global Perspective
This course explores the ethical aspects, both domestically and internationally, and the institutional and political aspects of human rights. Issues covered include the ethics 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 the perception and practice of the ethics of human rights. Lecture 3 (Fall).
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. Lecture 3 (Fall).
 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. Lecture 3 (Fall).
 Politics of China
This course examines the politics of China through a comparative historical analysis of key political and economic developments. It discusses the Communist Revolution, governance and policy making under the communist regime, and the reforms following the introduction of capitalism. The goal of the course is to assess China’s comparative advantages and grand strategy in international politics. Lecture 3 (Spring, Summer).
 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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
 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. Lecture 3 (Fall).
 Grand Strategy
Grand strategy defines the interests of a state, the means necessary to achieve and protect those interests, the threats to those interests, and the policies and military forces needed to minimize the danger posed by those threats. This course examines grand strategies of great powers from various historical eras and regions to determine the origins of grand strategy and the relationship between a great power's grand strategy and stability in international politics. The focus on a specific regime or regimes will be determined by the instructor and announced in the subtitle. The course can be repeated as the area of focus changes. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
 Gender and Political Thought
Discussions of gender reoccur in the works of political thought from antiquity to the present. In focusing on gender and political thought, this course examines the role of gender in shaping and challenging numerous ethical-political frameworks. Possible topics range from the relevance of gender in key texts of political theory and political fiction to the study of feminist perspectives in the subfields of political science, especially political ethics, American politics, international relations theory, and political economy. Other possible topics include the politics of gender in religion, science, violence and war. Lecture 3 (Biannual).
 Greece and the Political Imagination
As a region once comprised of many city-states, transformed into an empire, occupied by foreign armies, and now unified as a nation-state, Greece plays a pivotal role in the political imagination. Themes of freedom, war, justice, heroism, piety, beauty, love, tyranny, democracy, colonialism, nationalism, immigration, and sovereignty pervade its rich literary, artistic, and intellectual heritage. This course examines how these themes are expressed in literary and artistic political works that reflect the history of Greece in all of its variety. These themes are also discussed through a survey of Greek political philosophy from antiquity to the present. Lecture 3 (Spring).
 Greece and the Political Imagination
As a region once comprised of many city-states, transformed into an empire, occupied by foreign armies, and now unified as a nation-state, Greece plays a pivotal role in the political imagination. Themes of freedom, war, justice, heroism, piety, beauty, love, tyranny, democracy, colonialism, nationalism, immigration, and sovereignty pervade its rich literary, artistic, and intellectual heritage. This course examines how these themes are expressed in literary and artistic political works that reflect the history of Greece in all of its variety. These themes are also discussed through a survey of Greek political philosophy from antiquity to the present. The class will meet regularly on the Rochester campus in the spring semester for discussions and assignments. After the spring semester, coursework will continue in the summer while studying abroad for two to three weeks in Greece, which is mandatory. Students will receive an “Incomplete” in the spring semester, which will be changed after completing the summer travel Seminar 3 (Spring).
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. Lecture 3 (Fall).
War and the State
The ways that political communities have sought to protect themselves from others and / or expand their territory and power have had enormous effects on the development of particular ideologies, institutions, and governmental forms. Conversely, these political developments have altered the character of war. This course explores the enduring centrality of war in the generation of the modern international system. It offers a deep analysis of the nature and evolving character of war, and the way this has intersected with the evolving character of states. Lecture 3 (Fall).
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. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
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. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Special Topics in Political Science
Special topics will examine a political theme, issue or problem at an advanced undergraduate level. The subject matter examined will vary from year to year according to the availability of faculty and the interests of students. The course is designed especially for those whose interest in politics goes beyond the requirements of the liberal arts curriculum. (Class 3, Credit 3 (varies) Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
 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. Lecture 3 (Summer).
 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. Lecture 3 (Summer).

* At least two courses must be taken at the 300-level or higher.