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M.A. Seminar on IR Concepts & Theories

The syllabus for my M.A.-level seminar on “IR: Concepts and Theories” is ready and can be found here. Here’s a quick course description:

This course aims at providing students in the M.A. program in Global Affairs with the conceptual and theo-retical toolkit necessary to make informed decisions and recommendations in the realm of international politics. Decisionmakers necessarily use concepts and theories. Often, however, these remain implicit or unconscious, making it harder to detect inconsistencies and other problems with their rationales, and thus negatively impacting the odds of success of whatever course of action is being recommended or implemented. It is the purpose of the course to give students the tools needed to identify, label, evaluate, criticize, and fine-tune policy positions on international topics, allowing them to make better arguments throughout their professional lives.

To do so, the first part of the course is devoted to surveying IR theory, its central questions, approaches, concepts, and theories. Then, in the second half of the course, we will look at several central topics in con-temporary international relations — the causes of war, deterrence and brinksmanship, the spread of nuclear weapons, the transformation of the international system, the diffusion of international norms, and environ-mental politics — through the theoretical lenses we have studied in the first half. This means you should expect to do quite a bit of pushing before you can actually jump in and enjoy the ride. Intellectual effort will be front-loaded, but the rewards should be apparent in the second half of the semester.

Please be aware that the course is not focused on a description or analysis of the events, actors, institutions, or processes which make up contemporary international relations. Nor is the purpose of this course to ex-pose you to cutting-edge academic work in IR. The readings will instead focus on the key conceptual and theoretical tools used in the study of international relations, some of which are a few decades old.

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categories: IR theory, teaching. | tags: .

Posted at 6:47 pm

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