International Relations is an odd class to have as an introductory course to social science. I did not take it until second year university. For the most part, students usually start with history or a civics course – however, it is not mandatory, it just makes it a little bit more difficult to find an appropriate textbook for the course. As a result, when the course is taught at the junior level, I start off by introducing students to concepts in social science before getting into the details of international relations.
In this section you will find the assignments and links to course readings (including extra material) within each unit description.
UNIT 1: Introduction to Social Science
- What are the differences between science and social science?
- How did social science emerge from philosophy?
- What role did the development of capitalism and the enlightenment have on the development of social science?
- What are some of the major fields of social science? (Archeology, History, Geography, Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, and Economics)
Readings and Assignment 1
Unit 2: International Relations Theory – Realism
In this section of the course students are exposed to the importance of theory in social science, and in particular, the study of International Relations. We go over concepts such as: ideal types, paradigms, theory and rationality. Afterwards the class begins to study the first major theory in International Relations: Realism.
Realism is one of the, if not the, leading paradigms in International Relations – at least in the United States. The theory has appeal to many students and scholars due to its simplicity and the focus on what it presents as the realpolitik. For Realists, international relations is a power game where states compete and ally with each other in order to obtain stability and power. The three core assumptions are:
- The world is in a state of anarchy
- States are sovereign (make their own decisions without an overarching authority)
- States are rational unitary actors (borrowed from neoclassical economics)
Readings and Assignment 2
Bova, R. (2012). How the World Works: A Brief Survey of International Relations. Glenview, Illinois: Pearson.
Chapter 1, pp. 3-19.
Position Essay (Assignment 2): Assignment-2
SECOND SEMESTER: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS II
- Intergovernmental Organizations (Specifically the United Nations)
- The Human Rights Revolution and R2P
- Economic Globalization and its Contents/Discontents
The other part of the course will be based on writing an academic research paper in APA style (link to the APA website.) By the end of the course you will have a developed essential skills necessary for higher level academic work and becoming an informed citizen. You will gain knowledge on important issues in international relations such as the current Refugee Crisis (concise video explaining the crisis), North Korean refugee status in South Korea, the different organs of the United Nations, Responsibility to Protect, Economic Sanctions, Economic Engagement, Economic integration, cultural integration, NAFTA , FTAA, and the rise of Russia and China as economic and military powers, just to name a few. On of which you are required to write a research essay, 1500 words in length. Your assessment is based on the following:
2. Final Exam (35 Multiple Choice) = 20%
3. Research Essay Proposal = 10%
4. Citation Assignment = 10%
5. Research Essay = 40%
The best advice I can give you for coming up with a specific topic and staying on track to watch the following video:
Notice how in the first video the daughter always asks why. In order to come up with a concise thesis statement and supporting arguments you must frequently ask yourself that very question (within reason of course). Good researchers try to find the root of a problem and often do so by investigating the reasons (why) it occurred. As you see in the video, the father starts to give more specific answers and finally concludes “God is dead and were all alone”. Not a good answer but you get the point. The other video is how to set up your paper in APA format which is what you will have to do for your research essay. Follow the instructions carefully.