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COURSE NAME: "World Politics"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Simone Tholens
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 1:30 PM 2:45 PM

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.
This course furnishes an introduction to the study of World Politics, to the concepts, theories, and
approaches that scholars use to explain and to understand global conflict and cooperation. Through
the semester, we will explore the study and practice of world politics by examining the nature of
the international system, the dominant theoretical paradigms of the discipline, the various
characters on the world stage, issues of war, peace, security, and global governance, as well as a
handful of more topical and timely subjects. The class is intended to introduce students to the
dominant conceptual approaches of the IR field and to help them to think more comprehensively
and precisely about world politics.
On successful completion of the course a student will be able to:
§ Understand and compare the main theories of International Relations (IR);
§ Analyze the workings of international political life;
§ Identify the core challenges of contemporary international politics, and;
§ Apply the major IR theorie

Midterm The midterm will cover the material from the readings as well as lectures, and take the form of a 1 hour short answer class exam.35%
Final EssayComprehensive, covering the full range of materials, concepts, and ideas from the course. The final assessment consists of a 2500 word essay on a pre-defined essay question.40%
Discussion paperYou are asked to provide a 1000 words discussion paper on the nature of the international order and elaborate on one specific issue that you think challenges the current order.25%

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.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
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.





Class & Topic

Readings (required)


Part I: International Relations – Historical Context



1. Welcome & Introduction to the course


2. Inventing the International I: From the Peace of Westphalia to WW1

1. Read and print the syllabus + Introduction in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp. 5-18).


2. Chapter 2 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp 39-53)

+ Barry Buzan and George Lawson (2013) “The Global Transformation: The Nineteenth Century and the Making of Modern International Relations”, International Studies Quarterly, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp. 620–634.



3. Inventing the International II: From the League of Nations to the Cold War





4. Inventing the International III: After the Cold War

3. Chapter 3 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp 54-69)

+ William C. Wohlworth (1999) “A Certain Idea of Science: How International Relations Theory Avoids Reviewing the Cold War”, Journal of Cold War Studies, Volume 1, No.2, pp. 39–60


4. Chapter 4 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp 70-83)

+ Amitav Acharya (2017) “After Liberal Hegemony: The Advent of a Multiplex World Order”, in Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp. 271-285.



Part 2: International Relations – IR Theory




5. The Classics: Realisms I












6. The Classics: Realisms II

5. Chapter 8 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp 130-144)

+ Hans Morgenthau, “Six Principles of Political Realism,” pp. 29-35, in Robert J. Art & Robert Jervis (2015) International Politics: Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issues, 11th Edition

+ J. Ann Tickner, "A Critique of Morgenthau's Principles of Political Realism," pp. 28-41, in Robert J. Art & Robert Jervis (2015) International Politics: Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issues, 11th Edition


6. Kenneth N. Waltz (1959) Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis. New York: Columbia University Press, “Chapter I: Introduction,” pp. 1-15.

+ Kenneth N. Waltz (2014) “Anarchic orders and balances of power”, Realism Reader, London: Routledge, pp. 113-123.



7. The Classics: Liberalisms I







8. The Classics: Liberalisms II











7. Chapter 6 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp. 103-114)

+ Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye, (1977) “Chapter 2: Realism and Complex Interdependence,” in Power and Interdependence. Boston: Little Brown and Company, pp. 23-37


8. Joseph M. Grieco, Robert Powell, and Duncan Snidal. 1993. “The Relative-Gains Problem for International Cooperation.” The American Political Science Review, Volume 87, Issue 3, pp. 729-743.

+ Andrew Moravcsik (1997), “Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics”,International Organization,Volume 51, issue 4, pp. 513-553.



9. The Classics: Marxism







10. The (halfway) Critiques: Constructivisms

9. Chapter 7 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp 115-129)

+ Robert W. Cox. 1986. “Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory.” In Robert O. Keohane, ed. Neorealism and its Critics, pp. 204-217, pp. 242-244.


10. Chapter 12 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp 192-206)

+ Alexander Wendt (1992) “Anarchy is what states make of it: the social construction of power politics”, International Organization Volume 46, Issue 2, pp. 391-425

+ Nina Tannenwald (1999) “The nuclear taboo: The United States and the normative basis of nuclear non-use”,International organizationVolume 53, Issue 3, pp. 433-468.



11. The Critiques: Critical Theory









12. The Critiques: Post-structuralism

11. Pinar Bilgin (2009) “Thinking Past ‘Western’IR?”, Third World Quarterly, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp. 5-23

+ Mark Laffey and Jutta Weldes (1997) Beyond belief: ideas and symbolic technologies in the study of international relations”,European Journal of International RelationsVolume 3, Issue 2, pp. 193-237.


12. Chapter 11 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp. 177-191)

+ Lene Hansen (2011) ‘The politics of securitization and the Muhammad cartoon crisis: A post-structuralist perspective’, Security Dialogue, Volume 42, Issue 4-5, pp. 357–369.



13. The Critiques: Feminist theory









14. The Critiques: Post-colonial approaches

13. Sjoberg, Laura (2011) ‘Gender, the state and war, redux: Feminist international relations across the “levels of analysis”’, International Relations, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp.108-134

+ Enloe, Cynthia (1989) ‘Base Women’, in Bananas, Beaches and Bases: A Feminist Introduction to International Relations, Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 65-92.


14. Chapter 10 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp 160-176)

+ Seth, Sanjay (2011) Postcolonial theory and the critique of international relations”, Millennium Volume 40, Issue 1, pp. 167-183.





Part 3: International Relations – Structures and Issues






16. War and Security

Details TBC


16. Chapter 14 + 15 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp. 225-255)

+ Davies S, Pettersson T, Öberg M. (2022) “Organized violence 1989–2021 and drone warfare”,Journal of Peace Research. Volume 59, Issue 4, pp. 593-610


Recommended: Watch the documentary The Fog of War: The Fog of War (2003) | Watch Free Documentaries Online (watchdocumentaries.com)




17. International Institutions and










18. Transnational Civil Society

17. Chapter 20 + 21 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp. 319-348)

+ Michael N. Barnett and Martha Finnemore (1999) “The Politics, Power and Pathologies of International organizations”, International Organization, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp. 699-732


Recommended: Listen to the Podcast How the United Nations is Responding to Russia's Invasion of Ukraine | Richard Gowan - UN Dispatch


18. Chapter 22 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp. 349-364)

+ Richard Price (1998) “Reversing the gun sights: transnational civil society targets land mines”, International Organization Volume 52, issue 3, pp. 613-644.


Recommended: Get familiar with the work of NGO Geneva Call: Geneva Call - Humanitarian engagement with armed groups and de facto authorities




19. International Political Economy








20. Gender and Race

19. Chapter 16 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp. 256-270)

+ Sarah Babb and Alexander E. Kentikelenis. "Markets Everywhere: The Washington Consensus and the Sociology of Global Institutional Change."Annual Review of Sociology47 (2021): 521-541.


20. Chapter 17 + 18 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp. 271-302)

+ Robbie Shilliam (2020) “Race and racism in international relations: Retrieving a scholarly inheritance”,International Politics ReviewsVolume 8, Issue 2, pp. 152-195.



21. Migration and border security










22. Terrorism, Counter-terrorism

21. Chapter 25 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp. 404-418)

+ Julien Jeandesboz and Polly Pallister-Wilkins (2015) “Crisis, routine, consolidation: The politics of the Mediterranean migration crisis”,Mediterranean PoliticsVolume 21, Issue 2, pp. 316-320.


Recommended: Watch the short documentary, The Left to Die Boat: The Left-to-die Boat ← Forensic Architecture (forensic-architecture.org)


22. Chapter 28 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp. 449-465)

+ Claudia Aradau and Rens van Munster (2007) “Governing Terrorism through Risk: taking precautions, (un) knowing the future”, European Journal of International Relations, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp. 89-115.



23. Arms Control and Proliferation









24. Cyber Security


23. Chapter 29 in Baylis, Smooth and Owens (pp. 466-480)

+ Hedley Bull (1976) “Arms Control and World Order”, International Security Volume 1, Issue 1, pp. 3–16

+ Keith Krause (2011) “Leashing the Dogs of War: Arms Control from Sovereignty to Governmentality”, Contemporary Security Policy Volume 32, Issue 1, pp. 20–39.


24. Myriam Dunn Cavelty and Andreas Wenger(2020)Cyber security meets security politics: Complex technology, fragmented politics, and networked science”,Contemporary Security Policy,Volume 41, Issue 1,pp. 5-32

+ Jon R. Lindsay (2013) “Stuxnet and the limits of cyber warfare”,Security Studies,Volume 22, Issue 3, pp. 365-404.


Recommended: Read up on the (non)use of cyber warfare in the Ukraine war: PP10-3_2022-EN.pdf (ethz.ch)



25.Human Rights and Interventions







26. Environmental issues and


25. Chapter 31 + 32 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp. 498-530)

+ David Chandler (2016) “New narratives of international security governance: the shift from global interventionism to global self-policing”, Global Crime, Volume 17, Issue 3-4, pp. 264-280.


26. Chapter 24 in Baylis, Smith and Owens (pp. 387-403)

+ Cristina Yumie Aoki Inoue (2018) “Worlding the study of global environmental politics in the Anthropocene: indigenous voices from the Amazon”, Global Environmental Politics Volume 18, issue 4, pp. 25-42.



27. The International Order & its






28. Summing up the course


27. Rebecca Adler-Nissen and Ayse Zarakol (2021) “Struggles for Recognition: The Liberal International Order and the Merger of Its Discontents”, International Organization, Volume 75, Issue 2, pp. 611-634.


28. None.