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Students are required to write a think piece (500-1,250 words) about their personal perspectives on global issues, using personal narratives (does your personal “story” have an impact on how your see the world?). Students must also select an IR thinker, and through an understanding of their “story” must decide whether their life “narrative” may have influenced a specific idea/theory they developed or espoused. Students will be required at read ONE piece of academic work (at least 10 pages) written by the author. See pages 18-19 for additional information. other information you can find in the doc ;p
Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies
Department of Politics
Politics 2940 6.0 (B)
Introduction to International Politics
Fall 2019/Winter 2020
Lectures: Wednesdays, 10:30am – 12:15pm
Dr. Monika Thakur
Ross Building S662
Fall 2019: Wednesdays, 12:30pm-2:30pm, or by appointment
Winter 2020: Tuesdays, 11:00am-1:00pm, or by appointment
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the discipline of International Relations
(IR), within Political Science. This course will strengthen students’ knowledge of the conceptual
and theoretical debates in IR, as well as historical developments in the post-1945 period. The
first part of the course (Fall semester) will examine various IR theoretical approaches, ranging
from traditional problem-solving theories such as realist, liberal and Marxist perspectives to
critical theories such as feminist, poststructuralist, constructivist, post-colonial and green
perspectives. The second part of the course (Winter semester) will critically analyse
contemporary issues such as the role of the UN, global environmental issues, specifically climate
change, foreign policy decision-making, global economy and global trade, global poverty and
international development, war, terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation, and humanitarian
Objectives and Learning Outcomes
By the end of this course students should be able to:
• Use the strategies for critical thinking and analysis that they learn in the course to help
develop a deeper understanding of the global political world and their position in it;
• Provide evidence of some specialized knowledge of economic, political and social
contexts in the post-1945 period;
• Discuss critically, and write knowledgeably about, major IR theories, relating these both
to contemporary events and to historical processes;
• Demonstrate a critical understanding of and engagement with a wide range of IR
academic literature related to the key themes in the course;
• Demonstrate critical analytical skills, particular in relation to how meanings, definitions
and truths are constructed;
Display their critical understanding of key issues through the development of a succinct
writing style (for essays), and the ability to present complex arguments in class
Use their knowledge as a basis for further study or pursuing a career in International
Relations; and for students of other academic disciplines, to exhibit sufficient knowledge
of IR and to enable them to conceptualize the international dimensions of their chosen
Use their knowledge to be more engaged with and informed about global politics.
Skills development: analytical skills; writing and communication skills; critical thinking
skills; problem-solving skills; presentation skills
The required readings for the course:
• Textbook: John Baylis, Steve Smith and Patricia Owens (Editors), The Globalization of
World Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). The textbook is used in both Fall
and Winter semesters.
• Moodle: readings for Fall 2019, Week 9/10 (Green Theory – Paterson, 2013; Queer
International Theory – Weber, 2015) and Winter 2020, Week 1 (Foreign Policy
Analysis; Hill – 2013) ONLY will be posted on Moodle, respecting York University’s Fair
• Short online sources (***): provided to help with understanding weekly topics.
Reading Beyond the Syllabus
It is also essential that you keep up to date with debates in the field through the major journals, all of
which are available electronically. Some journals you should consult: International Affairs; World Politics;
Review of International Studies; Millennium: Journal of International Studies; International Studies
Quarterly; American Political Science Review; Canadian Journal of Political Science; International
Organization; International Security; Security Dialogue; European Journal of International Relations;
Survival; Journal of Peace Research; Terrorism and Political Violence; Global Governance; SAIS Review;
Foreign Affairs; Foreign Policy; and International Journal. Also worth perusing for articles in journals
focusing on specific areas studies, such as Journal of Modern African Studies; Arab Studies Quarterly;
Latin American Perspectives; Journal of Contemporary China; and Review of African Political Economy.
Students are also expected to stay abreast of current affairs throughout the semester by reading online
newspapers such as The Globe and Mail, The Montreal Gazette, The National Post, The New York
Times, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, The Hill Times, etc.; or
weekly magazines such as The Economist. You can also follow current affairs online on the BBC, CBC,
CNN, AP, AFP, Reuters, The Conversation, Al-Jazeera, Politico, Vox, Quartz and the Intercept websites.
It may be helpful to compare how global issues are presented on alternative news sources.
Blogs and Website
There are an increasing number of blogs devoted to international affairs, some of which repay regular
• The Monkey Cage: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/
• The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/global
• Political Violence@Glance: http://politicalviolenceataglance.org/
• The Disorder of Things: https://thedisorderofthings.com/
• Duck of Minerva: http://duckofminerva.blogspot.com/
• Foreign Policy: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/
• Brookings: https://www.brookings.edu
• Council on Foreign Relations: https://www.cfr.org/blog
• E-International Relations: http://www.e-ir.info/category/blogs/
• Dan Drezner: https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/daniel-w-drezner/
• Stephen Walt: https://foreignpolicy.com/author/stephen-m-walt/
• The Crooked Timber: http://crookedtimber.org/
• E-International Relations: http://www.e-ir.info/category/blogs/
• Theory Talks: http://www.theory-talks.org
International Organizations, Think tanks and NGOs
See the websites for international and inter-governmental organisations such as the UN, UNDP, UNICEF,
WHO, UNEP, WFP, World Bank, IMF, WTO, EU, and OECD/DCD-DAC. Finally, check out NGOs and
think tanks, such as Oxfam; Red Cross; MSF; Save the Children; Global Policy Forum; Human Rights
Watch; Amnesty International Relations; International Crisis Group; Foreign Policy Centre; European
Council of Foreign Affairs; Council of Foreign Affairs; and the Brookings Institute. Within the Canadian
context, do visit: the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto; Centre for International
Governance Innovation; the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, Concordia
University; and NPSIA, Carleton University.
Course Policies and Expectations
I. Critical Thinking, Equitable and Inclusive Learning
Students are required to read the course readings before each class and be ready to critically engage in
class discussion. It is crucial that students understand that this class is meant to cultivate and encourage
critical thinking. As well, everyone learns more effectively in a respectful, safe, equitable and inclusive
learning environment. I invite you to work with me to create a classroom space that fosters and promotes
values of human dignity and respect for diversity.
II. Course Website
Course materials and notices will be posted on Moodle, which can be accessed via
[http://moodle.yorku.ca]. Be sure to check for new information periodically, including guides to help
complete your assignments.
III. Class Attendance
Students are expected to attend and participate actively in lectures and tutorials.
IV. Assignment Submission
All assignments for this course must be submitted to your TA, on the dates provided.
V. Assessment and Grading
All grading in the course is conducted by your TA. Your TA is a doctoral candidate in the Graduate
Program in Political Science and is an expert in the field of Political Science and International Relations.
The course is therefore taught by a team of colleagues that include the Course Director and the doctoral
VI. Reassessing Assignments
If you have reason to disagree with a grade you receive from you TA, you must put in writing why you
think your grade should be reassessed and give it to your TA. Your TA will then take your written request
into consideration and will reassess your assignment. Upon reassessment of your assignment, it is
possible for your grade to be either raised or lowered. If, after these steps, you still disagree with your
assigned grade, you may request that the Couse Director reassess the assignment. You must put this
request in writing with an explanation of why you think the evaluation is incorrect. The Course Director
may raise or lower your grade.
VII. Late Submission Policy
Assignments received later than the due date will be penalized. Late submissions will incur a decrease
of 2 marks from your FINAL GRADE in the class mark PER DAY, including weekends. After 7 days,
late assignments will NOT be accepted.
I have given you advance notice of submission dates, so please arrange your schedule accordingly.
Therefore, I am very unlikely to change due dates or make exceptions for circumstances such as
extracurricular activities, busy schedules, computer problems, etc. However, exceptions to the late
submission policy for valid reasons such as illness, compassionate grounds, etc., may be considered but
will require supporting documentation (e.g., a doctor’s letter). Please see your TA as soon as possible,
so you can discuss a mutually satisfactory solution.
IX. Students with Special Needs
Students with disabilities and special needs may request appropriate academic accommodations, as
outlined in the York University Senate policy statement: “Academic Accommodation for Students with
[Refer to: https://secretariat-policies.info.yorku.ca/policies/academic-accommodation-for-students-withdisabilities-policy/]. Students are advised to see the Course Instructor as soon as possible, so that the
appropriate arrangements can be made.
X. Religious Holidays
Please see me as soon as possible (in advance of any holiday) to arrange a means of covering any class
material you plan to miss for religious holidays.
XI. The Learning Commons
If you require any additional support with academic writing, library assistance and research skills, etc.,
you may want refer to the Learning Commons website for further information on the wide range of
academic support available for students on campus: [http://learningcommons.yorku.ca].
XII. Technological Devices in the Classroom
I have confidence in students, and believe students will use technological devices for mainly academic
purposes. My laptop, tablet and mobile phone policy is informed by my personal outlook on the world,
and also by research and experience teaching at various universities in Canada and around the world.
See below two blogs articles that have informed my position on technological devices in the classroom.
Just so you are able to make a personal decision for yourself, here is some research-based perspectives
that differ from our own classroom policy.
XIII. Change of the Syllabus
I reserve the right to amend the schedule of meetings, content and evaluation scheme listed in this
syllabus, as might become necessary based on events throughout the semester. Any changes to the
syllabus will be announced in class and students will receive an amended syllabus (which will be available
Your grade in this course will be based on a variety of assessment criteria.
Autobiographical Reflexivity: The Self and IR Thinkers
IR Theory and Practice: Comparative Essay
In-class Exam (Fall 2019)
In-class Exam (Winter 2020)
Autobiographical Reflexivity: Self and IR Thinkers
15% of final grade
DUE IN TUTORIAL: 4 DECEMBER, 5:00PM
Students are required to write a think piece (500-1,250 words) about their personal perspectives
on global issues, using personal narratives (does your personal “story” have an impact on how
your see the world?). Students must also select an IR thinker, and through an understanding of
their “story” must decide whether their life “narrative” may have influenced a specific idea/theory
they developed or espoused. Students will be required at read ONE piece of academic work (at
least 10 pages) written by the author. See pages 18-19 for additional information.
IR Theory and Practice: Comparative Essay
25% of final grade
DUE IN TUTORIAL: 18 MARCH
Students are required to write an essay of 1,500-1,750 words in length (excluding the
bibliography). Anything beyond 1,750 will not be read or marked. The essay must present a
clear and detailed argument addressing the question posed below, and must also discuss
TWO IR theoretical approaches. A minimum of 3 academic sources must be used. Sources
should be listed in a bibliography, and quotations should be acknowledged where necessary.
Please refer to page 20 for the essay evaluation form.
Which theoretical approach offers the best understanding of one of key issues discussed
in the Winter semester? Answer by comparing at least two IR theoretical approaches (or
Some of the key issues to consider (see Winter semester topics): effectiveness of the UN;
climate change, environmental degradation; global trade, inequality; poverty and international
development; war; international security; terrorism; nuclear weapons proliferation; humanitarian
intervention. You can pick a more specific topic within the broad topic (e.g., the Paris
agreement; North Korea and nuclear weapons; the war in Yemen; achieving sustainable
development goals (SDGs), etc.)
Some of the IR theories/approaches to consider (see Fall semester topics): Realism;
Liberalism; Marxist approaches; Critical Theory; Poststructuralism; Feminism; Post-colonialism;
Queer international theory; Green theory; and Constructivism
In-class Examinations (Fall 2019, Winter 2020)
40% of final grade
In-class Exam: 27 NOVEMBER (20%)
In-class Exam: 1 APRIL (20%)
There will be TWO in-class examinations (each worth 20% of the final grade), and will cover
the topics discussed in each of the semesters (Fall semester and Winter semester). The exams
will be based on the material covered in the assigned readings, lectures and tutorials. The format
of the examination may be short answer and/or essay style. Further guidance on the exams will
be provided at a later date.
Attendance and Participation
20% of final grade
Students are expected to attend all lectures and tutorials. Your participation grade is based on
the quality of your involvement in your tutorial discussions. Simply attending your tutorial
is not sufficient grounds for a passing participation mark. You must read the assigned readings
and participate actively and effectively in class discussions. If you have further questions about
participation, or want to know where you stand at any point in the year, please speak to your TA.
We do understand that sometimes students are shy or uncomfortable speaking in front of groups
of people. If this applies to you, please speak to your TA early in the first term so that they can
assist you in developing this very important professional skill.
Week 1: 4 September
Introduction and Overview of the Course
No tutorials today
Week 2: Introduction to International Relations – 11 September
Select any TWO of the following:
• *** WATCH: Wangari Maathai, Be a Hummingbird, The Green Belt Movement [Available
online: http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/get-involved/be-a-hummingbird ]
• *** WATCH: Taiye Selasi, “Don’t Ask Where I’m From, Ask Where I’m a Local”,
TEDGlobal 2014 [Available online:
• *** WATCH: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “The Danger of A Single Story,” TEDGlobal
2009 [Available online:
• *** WATCH: Diane Hill, “Forgotten Narrative: The First Nations Reality”, TEDxUTSC, 3
March 2016 [Available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOAYbxJGgDQ ]
• *** WATCH: David Miliband, “The Refugee Crisis is a Test of Our Character”, TED, 2017
• *** WATCH: Alexander Betts, “Why Brexit Happened – and What to Do Next,”
• *** READ: Benjamin Bratton, “We Need to Talk About TED”, The Guardian, 30 December
2013 [Available online: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/30/weneed-to-talk-about-ted ]
Tutorial Discussion: What are the sources (family, friends, upbringing, books, media,
teachers, workplace, etc.) of your personal views on various international issues? How do you
understand citizenship? Does a country have any responsibility to people beyond its borders?
Where is your “home”? What is a global citizen, and would you identify as a global citizen?
How do these questions influence your views of global issues? Do you have the ability to
change something that is happening in Toronto, Ontario/province, Canada, the world?
Week 3: The Rise of Modern International Order – 18 September
Required Reading: Textbook – Baylis/Smith/Owens, Chapter 2 (Lawson)
Select any TWO of the following:
• *** READ: Fred Halliday, “The Revenge of Ideas: Karl Polanyi and Susan Strange,”
openDemocracy, 24 September 2008 [Available online:
• *** READ: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, TRC Reports and Findings,
2015 [Available online: http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=905]
• *** READ: Marc Parry, “Uncovering the Brutal Truth about the British Empire: Crushing of
the Mau Mau Uprising”, The Guardian, 18 August 2016 [Available online:
• *** READ: Kate Brady, “Germany Officials Refer to Herero Massacre as Genocide,”
Deutsche Welle (DW), 13 July 2016 [Available online: http://www.dw.com/en/germanyofficially-refers-to-herero-massacre-as-genocide/a-19396892 ]
Tutorial Discussion: What is international order? What roles were played by industrialization,
colonialism, and changing technologies in the rise of the nation-state? How did authority shift
and consolidate? Does Karl Polanyi’s analysis on the construction of post-1945 economic
system make sense in today’s world? Is colonialism still relevant in today’s world – why or why
not, in what ways?
Week 4: International History – 25 September
Required Reading: Textbook – Baylis/Smith/Owens, Chapters 3 (Scott) and 4 (Cox)
*** READ: Kenneth Andres, “Analysis of E.H. Carr’s “The Historian and His Facts”,” Medium,
16 September 2016 [Available online: https://medium.com/@kennethandres/analysis-of-e-hcarrs-the-historian-and-his-facts-d59e7ac687ee ]
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