CPOLS 3131: Perspectives on International Relations

Fall 2017

Dr. Aki Nakai

Classroom: University Hall, Room 3-103

Time: Friday, 1:15 to 3:45 p.m.

Office: TBD

E-Mail: anakai@lesley.edu

Office Hours: Friday after class; by appointment

Course Description:

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

21st century.

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.

Course Objectives:

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


Reading Assignments:


• 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

Economist http://www.economist.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

academic dean.

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.,

on myLesley.

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

are examples:


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.

Journal articles:

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.

Newspaper articles:

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.

Internet based-sources:

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

from http://www.mcdonalds.com/corp/about/factsheets.html

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

documentation provided.

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) | kjohnso7@lesley.edu


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


Doble Hall, 2nd Floor

617.349.8572 (voice) | 617.349.8324 (fax) | dnewman@lesley.edu

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

politics today?

• 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

the text.

• 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.]

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