SyllabusPolitics 371: Theories of International Relations
Professor B. Welling Hall
Professor of Politics and International Studies
Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, USA
B. Welling Hall (B.A., Oberlin College, Classical Greek; M.A., Ph.D. Ohio State University) is Professor of Politics and International Studies at Earlham College. Professor Hall has been the recipient of numerous research, teaching, and public policy fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Arms Control Association, the Joyce Foundation, the Academic Council for United Nations Studies, the American Society of International Law, and the Lilly Endowment. She has served on the Executive Committee of the Feminist Theory and Gender Studies Section of the International Studies Association (ISA) and as Chair of the International Law Section of ISA. Professor Hall serves on the board of editors of several international studies publications. She publishes frequently on the teaching of international studies and is currently working on an international law text for college students (Rowman and Littlefield, 2004).
This course is designed for juniors and seniors majoring in International Studies, Peace and Global Studies, or Politics, and other interested students who have taken the introductory course in Politics as a prerequisite. Politics 371: Theories of International Relations focuses on a selection of classic and contemporary texts in the study of what is generally referred to as “IR.” Major themes include morality and politics; debates over methods and theory; foreign policy and global conflict; and the search for peace. Class time will be devoted to lectures, exercises, and discussions. At the conclusion of the course students will demonstrate their understanding of various theories of international relations in analyzing a current problem of their choosing through the lenses of two of the theoretical perspectives discussed in class.
What might “virtue” mean in international relations? Why is war so common? Are there alternatives to “states”? Why do persons perceive international relations as they do? To what extent is “international relations” a gendered concept? These are all questions that are explored in various theories of international relations. There are, concurrently, many purposes that might be served by theory. The objectives of this course include helping students to interpret and describe international relations, to study a variety of explanations for various events and non-events, and to consider various prescriptions or solutions to different kinds of problems. This course will also contain something of a “meta-objective” as well: we will have some discussions about how we interpret actors and authors in turn interpreting international relations.
Throughout the term we will also attempt to distinguish between empirical theory resting on “clear verifiable statements of the relationships between specified variables” (Bernstein, 1978: 9) and normative theory which more or less explicitly prescribes means for achieving specified goals. We may also explore some alternative conceptualizations of the ends of theory.
Finally, this course is designed to assist students in their preparation for comprehensive exams and/or graduate study in related disciplines.
Stephen Toulmin, Cosmopolis
Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics
Jean Bethke Elshtain, Women and War
Subscription to World Press Review (through bookstore).
Students should expect to spend approximately 2 hours preparing for each hour in class. This assumption is based primarily on the time it takes to carefully read our required texts. As part of the final course grade, students will submit a reading report each Tuesday and Thursday by 9 am (i.e. 90 minutes before class starts. These reading reports can be handwritten (so long as they are legible) and should contain the following three elements: (1) a list of concepts from the reading that appear to be significant; (2) an identified passage for inquiry or discussion; and (3) a statement about the relationship between the reading and current events (including, if possible, news in World Press Review).
Your second type of assignment is a “classic report.” These are due four times over the course of the semester. These are papers four to five pages in length in which you identify the significance of a particular text that is regarded as a classic and identify a current event that the author’s theory helps to explain. I will provide topic ideas.
You may pick any current problem in international relations, something for which Lilly can provide contemporary coverage. You are encouraged to pick a problem that affects an area of the world with which you are personally familiar. Moreover, you are encouraged to take advantage of foreign language periodical coverage of the current events of interest to you.
Having selected a problem of interest to you, your task is to analyze this problem and propose solutions along lines suggested by at least two different course authors. If possible, I would like you to use Elshtain for one of these authors since you will not have a prior opportunity to write about her work.
1. Perspectives from Hans Morgenthau and Jean Elshtain on conflict in the Gulf.
2. Perspectives from Stephen Toulmin and Hans Morgenthau on European integration.
3. Perspectives from Robert Jervis and Frantz Fanon on conflict in the Congo.
I'll be glad to talk with you about selecting a topic. The final exam should be no more than eight double-spaced typed pages, not including footnotes and bibliography. It should be organized along the following lines:
Part I: An evaluation/explanation of the event or issue from the perspective of your first author or group of authors. (3 or 4 pages)
Part II: An evaluation/explanation of the event or issue from the perspective of your second author or group of authors. (3 or 4 pages)
Part III: Your own response to the two previous sections. What does each perspective deal with well? Where does each fall short? Which explanation or evaluation do you believe is more credible and more useful when it comes to understanding international relations? (2 or 3 pages).
All assignments are due on the date specified. It is your responsibility to plan your work schedule so that assignments can be completed on time. I carefully schedule my grading of student work so that assignments can be returned in a timely manner. Late work submitted without prior arrangement may or may not be accepted at the professor’s discretion.
Reading reports: 75 points
Classic reports: 100 points
Participation: 25 points
Final Exam: 50 points
Following is a list of criteria by which class participation will be evaluated:
Familiarity with the text assignment(s) for the day.
The ability to hear and understand what others say.
The ability to express oneself clearly in spoken English.
The ability to remember what has already been said.
The ability to synthesize the thoughts of one or more people by bringing together what has been said to form a new insight, conclusion, or question.
Regularity and promptness of attendance.
Sharing of materials (library materials, newspaper and journal articles, current events, etc.) relevant to the course.
Cooperation in creating a supportive atmosphere.
In preparing for your reading reports for class, you may find it useful to check your comprehension of the reading against these study questions:
What is the author's purpose in writing this piece?
What are the author's guiding questions?
What concepts does the author emphasize? How are these concepts defined?
How are these concepts related to each other?
What are the author's conclusions? Do they seem logical given the evidence provided? Would you draw different conclusions? Why or why not?
What questions remain unanswered?
How might questions/research be framed differently?
First Essay Topic: Toulmin
In this four to five page paper, I am less interested in a “book report” and more interested in your interpretation of the ways in which Toulmin’s analysis helps us to better understand some aspect of contemporary international relations.
One way to get at this would be to identify passages that have reminded you of events or problems that you care about and to illustrate ways in which this event or problem helps to illustrate either Modernity or the transition to a Third Phase of Modernity as Toulmin describes it.
If you like, you could use the ABM Treaty case (which I anticipate we will spend some time on in class this morning). You could also use any problem reported on in the current issue of World Press Review or any other current event that you are currently thinking about.
In grading the paper, I will pay attention to your accuracy in representing Toulmin’s writing, your skill in linking Toulmin’s concerns to your analysis of a current event topic, and the mechanics of good paper writing.
You should devote class time on Thursday to writing this paper. The paper is due at 4 pm on Thursday.
Toulmin’s ideas (for discussing ABM Treaty):
p. 196 “Throughout the centuries of Modernity, political theorists…took the moral self-sufficiency of nation-states for granted. For them, the only question was, ‘How does the power of the state come to be binding on its subjects?’ and they gave little attention to the question, ‘Who can pass moral judgment on the exercise of State power?’”
p. 206 “In Europe, where the theory and practice of the nation-state first emerged, its weaknesses are now being challenged.”
p. 208 “In the third phase of Modernity, the name of the game will be influence not force…”
p. 201 (citing Walter Lippman) “‘To every human problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.’”
Course Schedule (15 week course; 2 classes per week)
Day 1: Course Introduction
Day 2: Toulmin, Chapters Prologue–2
Day 3: Toulmin, Chapters 3 and 4
Day 4: Toulmin, Chapters 5 and epilogue
Day 5: Toulmin Essay Due
Day 6: Morgenthau, Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Day 7: Morgenthau, Chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7
Day 8: Morgenthau, Chapters 8, 11, 12, and 13
Day 9: Morgenthau, Chapters 14, 15, 16, and 17
Day 10: Morgenthau, Chapters 22, 23, 24, and 25
Day 11: Morgenthau Essay Due
Day 12: Fanon, Preface and Concerning Violence
Day 13: Fanon, Spontaneity: Its Strengths and Weaknesses
Day 14: Fanon, The Pitfalls of National Consciousness
Day 15: Fanon, On National Culture
Day 16: Fanon, Colonial War and Mental Disorders and Conclusion
Day 17: Fanon Essay Due
Day 18: Jervis, Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Day 19: Jervis, Chapter 4
Day 20: Jervis, Chapter 5 and 6
Day 21: Jervis, Chapter 7
Day 22: Jervis, Chapters 8 and 9
Day 23: Jervis, Chapters 10, 11, and 12
Day 24: Jervis Essay Due
Day 25: Elshtain, Introduction and Chapter 1
Day 26: Elshtain, Chapters 2 and 3
Day 27: Elshtain, Chapter 4
Day 28: Elshtain, Chapters 5 and 6
Day 29: Elshtain, Chapter 7
Day 30: Final Exam Due