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COURSE NAME: "World Politics"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2018

INSTRUCTOR: Michael Driessen
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 1:30-2:45 PM
OFFICE HOURS: TTH 1:30-3:30pm

An introduction to the theory and practice of international affairs, this course discusses the main schools of world politics as well as actors, structures and institutions of international relations. Through this framework the course explores key conflicts and issues in the post-World War II era, including problems of war, armed conflict, and peace, and the impact of recent trends in globalization on world politics.

The course is divided into five major components designed to expose the student to the broad schools of thought framing international relations scholarship and learn how those theories can be applied to global political events and empirical issues in the field of International Relations. Accordingly, the course will consider 1) the assumptions underpinning theories of World Politics; 2) The three major theories animating World Politics scholarship today (realism, liberalism and constructivism); 3) International History (World Wars I & II, the Cold War and its aftermath); 4) Globalization and International Political Economy; 5) New Actors and Dynamics in the Global Arena (Terrorism, Religion, Transnational Networks, International Law, and the Environment).


My pedagogical hope is that students will finish this course able to distinguish and evaluate the three major schools of thought in International Relations scholarship. They will also achieve an informed political reading of international history and be able to name and then apply important conceptual and theoretical considerations to contemporary global events.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Perspectives on International Relations: Power, Institutions, Ideas, 4th editionHenry R. NauCQ Press978-1292070872  
International Politics: Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issues, 12th editionRobert J. Art and Robert Jervispearson978-1452241487  

Mid-term Exam 25%
Final Exam 35%
Assignments (5)There will be 5 written assignments required of the students to be completed in units I, III, IV, V and VI. Instructions will be handed out in class. Each is worth 6% of the student’s final grade.30%
ParticipationAttendance and Presence of Mind are mandatory for this class. The goal here is to advance towards the art of asking good questions. Quality, not quantity of participation is what counts, although some quantity is better than no quality. Students will be allowed 2 unexcused absences. Each unexcused absence thereafter will result in the lowering of the attendance grade by 1/3rd a letter grade. More than 12 unexcused absences may result in a failure to pass the course.10%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

Attendance and Presence of Mind are mandatory for this class. The goal here is to advance towards the art of asking good questions. Quality, not quantity of participation is what counts, although some quantity is better than no quality. Students will be allowed 2 unexcused absences. Each unexcused absence thereafter will result in the lowering of the attendance grade by 1/3rd a letter grade. More than 12 unexcused absences may result in a failure to pass the course.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.




Course Calendar (Please note that this is not the final syllabus. A finalized schedule of readings, assignments and office hours will be distributed to students at the beginning of the semester).



January 15

Class 1

Course Introduction




Part I: Fundamentals


January 17

Class 2

Theory, Policy, Methods


Nau, Introduction



January 22

Class 3

Assumptions and the Security Dilemma (Assignment I)


Nau, Chapter 1: pp.s 30-41


Robert J. Art, “The Four Functions of Force,” AJ



January 24

Class 4

Three Traditions


John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, “An Unnecessary War,” Foreign Policy no. 134 (2003):


Joseph S. Nye, Jr. “The Future of American Power: Dominance and Decline in Perspective,” Foreign Policy no. 6 (2010):



Part II: Theories


January 29

Class 5

Realism I


Nau, Chapter 1, pp.s 41-50


Morgenthau, “Six Principles of Political Realism,” AJ


Waltz, “The Anarchic Structure of World Politics,” AJ




January 31

Class 6

Realism II


John J. Mearsheimer, “The False Promise of International Institutions,” International Security 19, no. 3 (1994/5), pp.s 1-14


Walt, “Alliances: Balancing and Bandwagoning,” AJ


Robert Jervis, “Offense, Defense, and the Security Dilemma,” AJ



February 5

Class 7

Liberalism I


Nau, Chapter 1: pp.s 50-60


Doyle, “Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs,” AJ


Hoffman, “The Uses and Limits of International Law,” AJ



February 7

Class 8

Liberalism II

Oye, “The Conditions for Cooperation in World Politics,” AJ


Keohane, “International Institutions: Can Interdependence Work?” AJ



February 12



Class 9

The Realist-Liberal Debate


John J. Mearsheimer, “The False Promise of International Institutions,” International Security 19, no. 3 (1994/5), pp.s 14-26, 47-49


Robert. O. Keohane and Lisa Martin, “The Promise of Institutionalist Theory,International Security 20 no.1 (1995)


Sebastian Rosato, “The Flawed Logic of Democratic Peace Theory,” American Political Science Review 97 no. 4 (2003)



February 14

Class 10



Nau, Chapter 1: pp.s 60-75


Wendt, “Anarchy is What States Make of It,” AJ



February 16

(Make up for April 25 Holiday)

Class 11







Part III: International History



February 19       Class 12

Melos, Westphalia and World War I


Nau, Chapter 2


Thucydides, “The Melian Dialogue,” AJ


February 21

Class 13

World War II (Assignment II)


Nau, Chapter 3



February 26

Class 14

The Cold War


Nau Chapter 4


John Lewis Gaddis, “The Long Peace: Elements of Stability in the Postwar International System,” International Security 10, no. 4 (1986):



February 28

Class 15

Film : Dr. Strangelove (Assignment III)


Dan Lindley, “What I learned Since I stopped Worrying and Studied the Movie: A Teaching Guide to Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove,” Political Science and Politics no. 34 (2001):



March 5

Class 16

Nukes and Weapons of Mass Destruction


Sokolsksi, “Getting Ready for a Nuclear-ready Iran” AJ

Posen, “We can live with a nuclear Iran,” 


Nau, Chapter 5


Paul Miller, “Much Bigger Buttons have nothing to do with Deterrence,” Foreign Policy (January, 2018)


Abraham Denmark, “The Myth of the Limited Strike on North Korea,” Foreign Affairs (January, 2018)


March 7

Class 17

Civil Wars and Humanitarian Interventions

 Jon Western and Joshua Goldstien, “Humanitarianism Comes of Age: Lessons from Somalia to Libya,” AJ



Ben Barber Feeding Refugees or War? The Dilemmas of Humanitarian Interventions,” Foreign Affairs 76 no. 4 (1997):

Kofi Annan, “Reflections on Intervention,” AJ

Nau, Chapter 6



Part IV: Globalization and International Political Economy












March 14

Class 19


International Trade and Finance


Nau, Chapter 8: 351-380


Gilpin, “The Nature of Political Economy,” AJ 


The Economist, “The End of Monnet: The Debt Crisis is Exposing Problems in the Basic Design of the European Union,” http://www.economist.com/node/21528269


The Economist: Interactive Graph on the Euro-Crisis: http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/05/european-economy-guide



March 16


(Make up for Missed Class for Driessen’s Conference)

Class 20



Nau, Chapter 8: pp.s 380-402


Frankel, “Globalization of the Economy,” AJ



March 19

Class 21

The Globalization Debate (Assignment IV)


Rodrik, “Why Doesn’t Everyone get the case for Free Trade” & “A Sane Globalization,” AJ


Na’im, “What Globalization is and is Not,” AJ



Part V: Religion, Law, Human Rights and the Environment



March 21           Class 22



Bruce Hoffman, “What is Terrorism?” AJ


Barack Obama, “Dealing with the Current Terrorist Threat,” AJ


March 26


Class 23

Identity Politics and Religion


Samuel P. Huntington, “Clash of Civilizations,” Foreign Affairs Summer (1993):





Spring Break, April 2-6


March 28

Class 24

International Law, Human Rights & Cybersecurity


Howard and Donnelly, “Human Rights in World Politics,” AJ


Herbert Lin, “Cyber Conflict and National Security,” AJ


April 9

Class 25

The Environment  (Assignment V)


Dupont, “The Strategic Implications of Climate Change,” AJ


Victor et al. “The Climate Threat we can Beat,” AJ



April 11

Class 26

Global Governance and Justice


Ikenberry, “The Future of the Liberal World Order,” AJ


David Held, “Reframing Global Governance: Apocalypse Soon or Reform!New Political Economy 11 no. 2 (2006).


Phil Levy, “Trump will be haunted by the Ghost of TPP,” Foreign Policy (2017)


April 16

Class 27

The Future of International Relations


Posen, “Emerging Multipolarity: Why Should we Care?” AJ


Subramanian, “Why China’s Dominance is a Sure Thing,” AJ


Jane Perlez and Mark Landler, “Wooing Trump, Xi Jinping seeks Great Power Status for China,New York Times (2017)



Graham Allison, “The Thucydides Trap: Are the US and China Headed for War?” The Atlantic (July 2015)






April 18

Class 28


Henry A. Kissinger, “The Future of US-Chinese Relations,” Foreign Affairs March/April (2012). 


Michael Hiscox, “Power Shifts, Economic Change and the Decline of the West?” AJ



April 23

Class X




Final Exam