CPOLS 3131: Perspectives on International Relations
Dr. Aki Nakai
Classroom: University Hall, Room 3-103
Time: Friday, 1:15 to 3:45 p.m.
Office Hours: Friday after class; by appointment
This course focuses on both the theory and practice of international relations, using a multi- and
inter-disciplinary approach including international law, history, political economy, and
geography. We will examine concepts such as globalization, realism, constructivism, hegemony,
development, security and human rights, and investigate the connection between these and global
institutions and both state- and non-state actors. We will address critical current global issues,
and discuss implications for them and for international relations- in this and future decades of the
The course is presented in lectures and in discussions:
• Lectures provide an analytic framework, and amplify readings.
• Discussions provide an opportunity to exchange views of IR concepts/theories and their
analytical applications to current IR events.
Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
• Demonstrate basic knowledge of key concepts and theories of international relations;
• Assess historical events and contemporary policy debates of international relations
theoretically and analyze conventional explanations critically;
• Identify key factors possibly affecting policy outcomes in the fields of international
relations and assess possible processes between causes and outcomes;
• Develop a clear, logical argument in the fields of international relations when students
need to substantiate their own position and communicate their position with strengthened
oral and written skills
• Mingst, Karen A., and Ivan Arreguín-Toft. 2016. Essentials of International Relations, 7th
Edition. New York: W.W. Norton. (ISBN: 978-0-393-28340-2)
In addition, students are expected to follow the news closely throughout the course. Seven web
sites where you have access to daily newspapers with good international coverage are:
New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/
Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/
Christian Science Monitor http://www.csmonitor.com/
International Herald Tribune http://www.iht.com/
BBC News http://www.bbc.com/news
Financial Times http://www.ft.com
You may have to register for access, but it is free. You can also set up a process to receive The
New York Times emails for daily copies of the headlines, with hyperlinks to the stories. It is a
great way to catch the news on days when you don’t get around to reading the newspaper. In
addition, Economist magazine weekly is a good source for international news. Please note most
web sites only give free access to some stories.
Online discussion forum: 15%
Class participation: 15%
Research paper proposal and annotated bibliography: 10%
Research paper draft: 20%
Completed research paper: 40%
1. Online discussion forum and class participation
The instructor will grade each student’s contributions to the online discussion forum and class
participation. In both instances, the instructors will evaluate how the student engages the ideas in
the readings and other students’ opinions in a constructive and thoughtful way. Frequency of
online contributions and speaking does not necessarily raise the student’s participation grade.
Consistent lack of contributions to the online discussion forum and frequent absence from class
will significantly lower the student’s grade.
[Note: The instructor views the section of class participation as essential in order for students to
practice developing and communicating a clear, logical argument with peers.]
2. Deadlines for proposal, draft, and research paper.
Students must plan their schedules in advance to meet all the deadlines. Grades will be penalized
by 1/3 of a letter grade for every twenty-four hours after the deadline of the assignments. This
means that a grade of “B+” will be “B” if work is submitted within the first 24 hours after the
deadline, and will be “B-” if work is submitted between the 24 to 48 hours after the deadline.
I grant extensions for the written work, only in cases of documented personal, health, and family
emergencies. Students must provide a signed note from a doctor, a family member, or an
Requirements & Expectations:
1. Online Discussion Forum
I have set up an online discussion forum, in the course website in myLesley. Students are
required to respond to at least one of the discussion questions which will be distributed in
advance, before 5 p.m. on the previous day of the class (i.e., Thursday). Each entry must be no
more than a paragraph, addressing the discussion question, raising questions, and responding to
their classmates’ comments. Please do not provide detailed summaries of the reading
assignments, it is not the point of the discussion forum. The instructor will review the comments
prior to the class, and students are required to review the comments prior to class.
2. Class Participation
During every class, students are expected to demonstrate that they have completed all reading
assignments; discriminate the issues which they understand from the ones that they do not
understand; express why some authors are more persuasive or interesting than others; and raise
questions that are unresolved or demand further analysis. Discussions are a collective endeavor
and the dialogue is among class participants including the instructor. Students are required to
contribute their share of opinions and questions as well as listen respectfully to those of others.
3. Research Paper Proposal (1 page) and Annotated Bibliography, due on Friday, October 6th
at 6:00 p.m., on myLesley.
The research topic should be related to the IR studies, and can include domestic, governmental,
nongovernmental, bilateral, international, transnational, regional, cross-regional, global, political,
economic, security, social, cultural, historical, and other dimensions.
The proposal (double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point-font, one-inch margin, APA
(American Psychological Association) Style citations) should pose the following three points in a
clear, coherent, and logical manner: (1) the central research question that the student seeks to
answer; (2) the significance of the research question (i.e., why is the research question
important?); and (3) the methodology (i.e., how to answer the research question). Students are
required to submit the proposal with the annotated bibliography as a single MS Word file on the
The annotated bibliography in APA Style should list no less than 10 sources (articles, books,
official reports, websites etc., with no minimum required number for each source category.), and
explain what each article and book argues about (e.g., questions, answers, methodology, and
evidence), and why each source is relevant to the research paper in a short paragraph. To build a
bibliography, the students are expected to start looking for sources from the first week of classes,
and have a sense of the kind of information that is available to complete the paper.
Lesley University Library website provides useful information regarding the APA Style citations
as follows: http://research.lesley.edu/apa . Also Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) offers a
useful website regarding the annotated bibliography as follows:
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/614/01/ . Please note that the annotated
bibliographic examples in this website are very comprehensive. For the research paper proposal
assignment in this course, a short paragraph will be sufficient to cover a brief summary of the
source and its relevance to the research question.
The assignment of writing a research paper is intended to improve thinking skills. The entire
writing process provides students with a chance to develop skills for using relevant research
resources, to clarify thoughts and put them on paper, to receive comments from peers and the
instructor during the student-led conferences, and to rewrite a research paper.
4. Research Paper Draft (no less than 15 pages), due on Tuesday, November 21st at 5:00 p.m.,
The 15-page draft (a single MS Word file; double-spaced; Times New Roman; 12 point-font;
one-inch margin; APA Style citations; footnotes with single-spaced, Times New Roman, 10
point-font) must demonstrate that the student has completed a significant amount of research,
and suggest the next direction of the student’s research and likely conclusions.
The 15-page draft must consist of the following two main parts: (1) Introduction; and (2) Body.
The Introduction gives the reader the central research question following interest generating
sentences, the significance of the research question, the tentative answer/argument/theory in brief
(i.e., explanation including the factor(s) and the process), and the methodology. The Body must
provide the reader with evidence collected from the ongoing research in order to support the
tentative answer/argument/theory. The Body also offers the students’ analysis to the evidence.
Lesley University Center for Academic Achievement offers writing support to students as
follows: https://www.lesley.edu/students/academic-resources/tutoring-support . The Center helps
students strengthen their argument, clarify and organize their ideas, develop their writing style,
and understand citations and disciplinary conventions. Subject Guides in the Lesley University
Library website also provide the following useful websites:
For the Global Studies: http://research.lesley.edu/globalstudies
For the Newspapers: http://research.lesley.edu/newspapers
For the Scholarly Publishing: http://research.lesley.edu/publishing
The 15-page drafts will be circulated to class members in myLesley for discussion during the
student-led conferences. Students are required to post at least one comment to 4 research paper
drafts in advance in myLesley, before 5 p.m. on the previous day (i.e., November 30th and
December 7th) of the student-led conferences.
5. Final Research Paper (20 pages excluding the Abstract and the Bibliography), due on Friday,
December 15th at 3:00 p.m. (Final Exam Day), on myLesley.
The final research paper (a single MS Word file; double-spaced; Times New Roman; 12 point-
font; one-inch margin; APA Style citations; footnotes with single-spaced, Times New Roman, 10
point-font) is expected to reflect the suggestions and critiques that the student received from the
instructor and classmates during the student-led conferences.
The final research paper must consist of the following five main parts: (1) Abstract; (2)
Introduction; (3) Body; (4) Conclusion; and (5) Bibliography.
The Abstract should be in the range of 200-300 words. The Abstract is an important part of a
social science research paper. It should summarize the content of the research paper, including
the research question, the research methodology, the research findings, and the students’
argument. The Abstract should be written in the present tense and in the third person (e.g., The
paper deals with …) or passive (e.g., … is discussed …).
The Introduction provides the reader with the central research question followed by interest
generating sentences, the significance of the research question, the answer/argument/theory in
brief (i.e., explanation including the factor(s) and the process), and the methodology. The last
paragraph of the Introduction should describe an outline for the remaining parts of the paper.
The Body generally starts with a necessary historical/theoretical/definitional
background/framework. The Body must provide the reader with evidence collected by the
research in order to support the answer/argument/theory. The Body also offers the students’ own
analysis to the evidence, and answers the research question stated in the Introduction in a clear,
organized, and logical manner. The last section of the Body generally discusses possible
counterarguments against the students’ answer/argument/theory.
The Conclusion summarizes the research findings and the students’ answer to the research
question. The Conclusion also discusses a theoretical/empirical/policy implication.
The Bibliography should be in a single-spaced alphabetical list in the APA Style. The following
Walt, S. M. (1987). The origins of alliances. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Haftendorn, H., Keohane, R. O., & Wallander, C. A. (1999). Imperfect unions: Security
institutions over time and space. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Gibler, D. M. (2008). The costs of reneging: Reputation and alliance formation. Journal
of Conflict Resolution, 52(3), 426-454.
King, G., & Zeng, L. (2001). Explaining rare events in international relations.
International Organization, 55(3), 693-715.
Sections from books:
Bueno de Mesquita, B. (2006). What is power? In: B. Bueno de Mesquita, Principles of
international politics: People’s power, preferences, and perceptions (3rd ed.). (pp.
233-262). Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.
Durdin, T. (1950, July 6). Lack of leaders disturbs Filipinos: Government program
impaired by inexperience and minor corruption in Manila. The New York Times, p.
The New York Times. (1944, August 11). Osmena appoints his war cabinet: Pledges
Philippine post-war unity with United States-wants Japan to pay. p. 6.
Kurland, P. B., & Lerner, R., (Eds.). (1987). The founders’ constitution. Chicago, IL:
University of Chicago Press. Retrieved from http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/
United States Department of State. (2004). Country reports on human rights practices.
Retrieved from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/hr/c1470.htm
McDonald’s Corporation. (2008). McDonald’s happy meal toy safety facts. Retrieved
Student-led Conferences (December 1st to December 8th):
The sole purpose of student-led conferences is to give students a chance to refine their paper in
progress through peer-reviews. No decent social science work is ever published without a peer
review in advance. Greater feedback from peers will definitely improve the final paper, which
will be graded. When students make a comment, students are expected to think about how their
comments will help to improve their classmates’ paper. All comments are expected to be
constructive, advisory, and thoughtful. Based on the research paper draft (no less than 15 pages,
due on Tuesday, November 21st), we will have a 10-15 minutes discussion.
Students are expected to come to every class. If students know that they will be absent from a
class in advance (e.g. due to a university-sponsored athletics, theater etc.), the students must
provide their comments to discussion questions to the online discussion forum, prior to class. If
students must miss a class due to personal, health, or family emergencies, they must provide a
signed note from a doctor, a family member, or an academic dean within one week after the
missed class. If students miss class for any reason, it is your responsibility to ensure that you
obtain any assignments or handouts.
Dropping the Class:
Students may withdraw from the class without a “W” until Tuesday, September 19th and with a
“W” until Wednesday, November 15th.
Academic Conduct Code:
You are expected to provide citations in papers for all quotations, paraphrases, and ideas taken
from any source other than your own original thoughts. Lesley University has very strict
standards for intellectual integrity. Punishment for plagiarism is severe, and can include
permanent expulsion from the university. For details, please refer to the following Lesley
University Academic Integrity Statement for complete guidance on these matters.
Disability Services for Students:
Lesley University is committed to ensuring that all qualified students with disabilities are
afforded an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from its programs and services. To
receive accommodations, a student must have a documented disability as defined by Section 504
of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, and provide
documentation of the disability. Eligibility for reasonable accommodations will be based on the
If you’re a student with a documented disability, or feel that you may have a disability, please
For on-campus students with Learning Disabilities, Attention Disorders, and Asperger
Kimberly J. Johnson, Director, LD/ADD Academic Support Program
Doble Hall, 2nd Floor
617.349.8462 (voice) | 617.349.8324 (fax) | firstname.lastname@example.org
For on-campus students with Physical, Sensory, and Psychiatric Disabilities:
G. Ruth Kukiela Bork, Director of Access Services for Students with Disabilities
11 Mellen Street, 1st Floor
617.349.8194 (voice) | 617.349.8544, 617.349.8198 (TTY) | 617.349.8558 (fax) |
For all off-campus-based students:
Dr. Daniel Newman, Executive Director, Academic Support Services, ADA/504
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Schedule of Topics, Required Readings, Discussion Questions, and Due Dates
9/8. Introduction/Approaches to International Relations
• Required Reading: Mingst and Arreguín-Toft, Chapter 1, pp. 2-19. (18 pages)
• In-Class Discussion: Is the world becoming more peaceful or violent? (Mingst and Arreguin-
Toft, Chapter 1, pp. 14-15) [Note: In the class, we will watch Pinker’s lecture on this topic, “The
Surprising Decline in Violence,” which is about 20 minutes in length and available at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ramBFRt1Uzk. What sorts of evidence does Pinker use to
support his hypotheses? How convincing is this evidence? What evidence might someone who
believes the world is becoming more violent, such as Martin Dempsey (the chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, who is mentioned in this chapter), bring to bear to support this contention?]
9/15. The Historical Context of Contemporary International Relations
• Required Reading: Mingst and Arreguín-Toft, Chapter 2, pp. 20-69. (50 pages)
• In-Class Discussion (1): The Treaties of Westphalia are often viewed as the beginning of
modern international relations. What changes to international politics did these treaties
introduce? How relevant are the principles of the treaties to the actual practice of international
• In-Class Discussion (2): How can/should we explain the end of the Cold War? Did the U.S.
win and the Soviet Union lose? Why or why not? (Mingst and Arreguin-Toft, Chapter 2, pp. 58-
• In-Class Discussion (3): The development of international relations as a discipline has been
closely identified with the history of western Europe and the United States. What can we learn
from the historical experiences of civilizations in other parts of the world, such as Latin America,
India, and East Asia? (Mingst and Arreguin-Toft, Chapter 2, pp. 64-65; 67-68)
9/22. Contending Perspectives: How to Think About International Relations Theoretically
• Required Reading: Mingst and Arreguín-Toft, Chapter 3, pp. 70-105. (36 pages)
• In-Class Discussion (1): Think about the Iraq War of 2003, which was discussed in detail in
this chapter. How are the four IR theoretical perspectives (i.e., realism, liberalism, radicalism,
and constructivism) relevant for describing and explaining the outbreak of this conflict? Which
perspective is most convincing to you? Why?
• In-Class Discussion (2): Was President Barack Obama a realist, a liberal, or a radical? Or does
the record of his foreign policy fail to fit cleanly into any of these categories? Provide evidence
to support your position. How about President Donald Trump?
• In-Class Discussion (3): Is the effectiveness of female marines in combat a fair test? Why or
why not? Use the three IR theoretical perspectives when you think about this question. (Mingst
and Arreguin-Toft, Chapter 3, pp. 98-99)
9/29. The International System/The State (I)
• Required Reading: Mingst and Arreguín-Toft, Chapter 4, pp. 106-131. (26 pages)
• Required Reading: Mingst and Arreguín-Toft, Chapter 5, pp. 132-156. (25 pages)
• In-Class Discussion (1): Balance-of-power theory expects that states will create alliances and
increase their military capacity to counter rising powers. The major rising power in the
contemporary world is China. What steps might the United States consider taking to balance
against China? What are the costs and risks of these steps? On balance, will the national interest
of the United States be best served by balancing against China, and if so, what specific steps
would be worthwhile? (Mingst and Arreguin-Toft, Chapter 4, pp. 126-127)
• In-Class Discussion (2): Russian foreign policy is becoming increasingly more interventionist.
In recent years, Russia has fomented rebellion in the neighboring state of Ukraine and intervened
with military force in the civil war in Syria on the side of the country’s authoritarian government.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of a realist explanation for this pattern of overseas
intervention? What facts about Russian interventionism, including its timing, are best explained
by other theoretical approaches? (Mingst and Arreguin-Toft, Chapter 4, pp. 120-121)
• In-Class Discussion (3): How do India’s domestic issues prevent it from increasing influence
in global affairs? If you were an Indian leader in the private economic sector, what
recommendations would you make to government authorities to advance the interests of India
internationally? Is the concept of a “rising power” useful in the study of international relations?
(Mingst and Arreguin-Toft, Chapter 5, pp. 152-153)
10/6. The State (II)/The Individual
• Required Reading: Mingst and Arreguín-Toft, Chapter 5, pp. 156-179. (24 pages)
• Required Reading: Mingst and Arreguín-Toft, Chapter 6, pp. 180-207. (28 pages)
• In-Class Discussion (1): Leaders such as Kim Jong-un, Robert Mugabe, and Muammar
Qaddafi are often dismissed as “crazy” or “nuts.” What do we mean when we dismiss these
leaders? Can you think of ways in which their actions and behavior could be considered rational?
(Also use knowledge that you learned in the previous week)
• In-Class Discussion (2): Using Hermann’s personality characteristics, how would you describe
Vladimir Putin? Why do you think Putin has emphasized traditional Russian values, despite
wanting to move his country forward economically and technologically? (Mingst and Arreguin-
Toft, Chapter 6, pp. 194-195)
• In-Class Discussion (3): If more women held major leadership positions in international
affairs, would policies be any different? Or do female leaders behave in essentially the same
ways as do male leaders? Why or why not? What IR theories would explain behavior by women
leaders as similar to or different from that of male leaders?
• In-Class Discussion (4): In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump defeated Hillary
Clinton. Imagine that Clinton had defeated Trump, and then gone on to be elected president.
How, if at all, do you think her foreign policies would differ from those of Trump?
[Due: 10/6. (Friday), 6:00 p.m. One-page research paper proposal due.]
10/13. International Organizations, International Law, and Nongovernmental
• Required Reading: Mingst and Arreguín-Toft, Chapter 7, pp. 208-259. (52 pages)
• In-Class Discussion (1): How should authority be distributed in the United Nations? Should
the Security Council continue to be the dominant organ, or should more power be given to the
General Assembly or the secretary general? What proposal for reform would you support? Why?
• In-Class Discussion (2): There is no world government to enforce international law. This leads
some to conclude that international law must have no effect on state behavior; states can violate
law when itsuits their interests, since there is no entity that can punish them. But at the domestic
level, do individuals comply with laws only because they fear punishment by the state? What
other reasons might influence them to comply with the law? To what extent might states comply
with international law for the same reasons?
• In-Class Discussion (3): NGOs have promoted the development of international norms and
laws regarding human rights. These norms and laws establish rights that all individuals hold,
regardless of their citizenship. Do such norms and laws threaten state sovereignty or not?
Substantiate your position.
10/20. War and Strife
• Required Reading: Mingst and Arreguín-Toft, Chapter 8, pp. 260-315. (56 pages)
• In-Class Discussion (1): The great powers have not fought a total war among themselves since
World War II. This long period of peace is unusual in the history of international politics. Have
changes in the international system contributed to this? Or is it merely the product of a
coincidence of interests and power that could be reversed in the future?
• In-Class Discussion (2): The United States and other countries want Iran to stop developing
nuclear technology, and to open its nuclear facilities up to international inspectors. The United
States has imposed costs on Iran for failing to meet these demands, including economic sanctions
and the implicit threat of military force. An agreement was signed in 2015 in which Iran
promised to allow its nuclear technology to be closely monitored by the international community
in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions. How durable do you think this agreement is? How
would a realist and a liberal answer this question?
• In-Class Discussion (3): Since 2014, the United States has used military force against the
Islamic State. What kind of wars is this? What might “winning” mean to you, given the
apparent complexity of contemporary wars and humanitarian interventions?
10/27. International Political Economy
• Required Reading: Mingst and Arreguín-Toft, Chapter 9, pp. 316-359. (44 pages)
• In-Class Discussion (1): What is more important, wealth or security? Is it possible to be secure
if your economy is dysfunctional? Is it possible to have a stable economy while living under
extreme fear of conquest?
• In-Class Discussion (2): President Obama praised firms that moved jobs from overseas to the
United States, referring to this shift as “in-sourcing.” His administration proposed policies that
would encourage such in-sourcing. Is this not another form of protectionism? What are the
merits and costs of such a policy? Would it work better for some industries than others? Why?
• In-Class Discussion (3): Does economic regionalization lead to globalization? Why or why
not? Provide evidence.
• In-Class Discussion (4): How or whether has your belief in the economic liberal model been
modified by the global economic crises?
11/3. Human Rights
• Required Reading: Mingst and Arreguín-Toft, Chapter 10, pp. 360-395. (36 pages)
• In-Class Discussion (1): The text discusses liberal and radical perspectives on human rights. Is
there a realist theory of human rights, understood as the state’s responsibility to its citizens? How
would this realist theory differ from liberal theory on the rights of refugees?
• In-Class Discussion (2): The international norm against the use of torture was codified in the
Convention Against Torture. Today, this relatively strong global norm has been challenged by
the controversy over U.S. treatment of terrorist suspects during the “war on terror.” What is
“torture”? Should “torture” sometimes be allowed?
• In-Class Discussion (3): Is peace more important than justice, or vice versa? Consider this in
the context of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Might the ICC encourage leaders and
others who commit human rights abuses to hang on to power as long as possible, fearing that
they will be convicted for their crimes? Would a better solution be a global form of truth
commissions and providing leaders with the option of retiring from politics?
• In-Class Discussion (4): Why are women and children especially vulnerable to the horrors of
war? What can the international community do to ameliorate the consequences of the violence
committed by Boko Haram? (Mingst and Arreguin-Toft, Chapter 10, pp. 386-387)
(11/10. Veterans Day – Observed: No Class).
11/17. Transnational Issues: The Environment, World Health, and Crime
• Required Reading: Mingst and Arreguín-Toft, Chapter 11, pp. 396-441. (46 pages)
• In-Class Discussion (1): Many people hope that new technology will allow the use of energy
without adding carbon to the atmosphere. What technologies hold this promise? What are the
costs and risks of developing such technologies? What sacrifices would need to be made to
invest heavily in such technologies? Should rich countries share these technologies with poor
• In-Class Discussion (2): International cooperation on health has traditionally been viewed as a
functionalist issue, but increasingly the issue has been politicized. How can global health policy
be considered political? What has changed, and with what effects? Use specific examples from
• In-Class Discussion (3): The United States suspects that many of cyber intrusions are the work
of foreign governments. But this is difficult to prove, because it is easy to mask the origins of
these cyber attacks. What does this imply for the ability of the United States to respond to cyber
intrusions? Is deterrence a feasible option? Should the United States instead engage in its own
widespread cyber intrusions against foreign states? What would be the risks of such a strategy?
• In-Class Discussion (4): The theoretical approaches used in the text book (realism, liberalism,
radicalism, and constructivism) seek to explain primarily the actions of states. How does the
development of transnational ties challenge this focus? Are some theories less or more relevant
today than they were developed 50 or 150 years ago?
[Due: 11/21. (Tuesday), 5:00 p.m.: 15-page research paper draft due.]
(11/24. Thanksgiving Recess: No Class)
12/1. Student-led Conferences (I)
12/8. Student-led Conferences (II)
[Due: 12/15. 20-page final research paper due at 3:00 p.m.]