This course introduces the field of International Relations (IR). It is designed for students interested in understanding global issues and actors in a time of fast-moving political and social change. The focus will be on theories of IR and their application in international politics.
The field of IR studies the functioning of the international system and deals with the nature of the changing relations between states and with non-state actors. This course starts with discussing the classical theories of IR from Realism to contemporary attempts of theoretical bridge-building. Next, the course will deal with contemporary debates in IR against the backdrop of the changing international system. Among others, topics to discuss include multilateralism, globalization, and power transitions. The course continues with examining the role of non-state actors and key issues in contemporary IR such as terrorism or the environment; the goal is to discuss IR theories in the current political context. Finally, the course concludes with a round table discussion on the prospects for politics and IR.
In this course, students will learn political concepts and theories through lectures. To compare international political phenomena, each student has to introduce a current issue or actor in a short oral presentation. The students are expected to discuss theoretical questions about the political world in working groups making use of the current news on international politics. In addition, students will learn and practice how to voice their opinion and persuade their audience in an academic essay. Finally, the students will gain insight into daily international politics and IR research through field trips and meetings with IR scholars and international policy experts.
The course is designed for students with different academic backgrounds and a general interest in international politics.
There are no specific prerequisites for this course.
All students are expected to attend and participate actively in class discussions of all readings and daily news. This means students should be prepared to a) summarize, evaluate and assess critically the significance of the readings, and b) provide information and discuss current topics of international politics.
Each student has to sign up for a short oral presentation. Presentation topics will be distributed at the first day of class.
In a final exam, students have to write a short essay in which they discuss a current issue of international politics applying a theory of IR. We will practice how to write an essay in class.
A course reader will be provided.