Gov 108 International Politics

GOV 108 Introduction to International Politics

Professor Harinda Vidanage PhD (Edin)
Office: Hepburn 09
Office Hours: By Appointment
Office telephone: 229-5437


Twitter: @HarindaV

Objectives and Goals

The aim of the course is to introduce students to key concepts, processes and transformatory paradigms that decide the shape of global relations among states and other key non-state actors, having a cumulative effect in deciding the future of global politics. The course intends to make students aware of key institutions that influence decision-making in international politics. Students are exposed to the processes of global relations  based on workings of human agency and collective action that effect international relations policy making both at national and international levels.

While acknowledging the importance of both theories and institutions that shaped the discipline of ‘International Relations’ this course will introduce facets of global politics that have led to major changes and transformations of the discipline, making it more of a global paradigm than a fixed set of frameworks governing global politics. Students will be expected to understand and analyze global developments using theoretical framing taught in class, while developing skills such as in depth reading and writing on topics of great importance to global politics. Students are expected to contribute to the class by locating serious global political issues that dominate the political agenda of IR, thus the course intends to make every student, an engaged agent in global politics by providing more space to express opinions and arguments on global events from the knowledge they gather while attending classes.

The key textbook, mandatory for the course, ‘The globalization of world politics’ (GWP) is available at the book store.

Attendance: The course is set to derive an organic unity between the discipline, global events and the student thus it is critical that classes should not be missed, the maximum misses allowed will be ‘two’ per student and any more will lead to deduction of 3 marks per every classed missed from the final exam total.

Attendance 10%
Mid Term Test 25%
Test 2 25%
Final Essay 25%
Group Presentation 15%

Grading Scale

96-100 4.0
92-95 3.75
91-88 3.5
84-87 3.25
80-83 3
75-79 2.75
70-74 2.5
65-69 2.25
60-64 2.0
55-59 1.75
50-54 1.5
45-49 1.25
40-44 1.0
0-39 0.0

Test 1 & 2: Will be MCQ papers (instructions will be provided) (50% of the Grade)

Final Essay: 2000 Word Take Home Essay 25% of the Grade

Group Presentation: Student Platform

The groups assigned each theme are to come up with a set of policy implications, recommendations and International political implications of each theme and present it as a panel. Each group has to decide on who contributes to what and as a group make their presentations consistent. Worth 15% of the overall grade. (Instruction Sheets for this exercise will be provided separately)

 Course Outline


Week 1/2

1)    Introduction to International Politics

2)      Historical setup

GWP: Chapter 2 ‘The evolution of International Society’

3)      World War to the Cold War

GWP: Chapter 3 ‘International History 1900-90’

4)      Post- Cold war and the global shaping and its many meanings

GWP: Chapter 4: ‘from the cold war to the world economic crisis’

Theoretical framing

Week 3 : Theories through Moving Image

1) Realism: GWP: chapter 6: ‘Realism’

Movie: TBA Realism and its discontents

Week 4

1)      Theories of World Politics: Realism

2)      Theories of World Politics: Liberalism

GWP: Chapter 7: ‘Liberalism’

Blog content:

I.            Walt: ‘International Relations one world many theories’

Week 5

1)      Constructivism in International Relations

GWP: ‘Social Constructivism’

Blog content: Video contents

II.            Nye: ‘Soft Power/ Smart Power’ (Video)

Structures and Processes

Week 6

1)      War and its evolution

GWP: ‘The changing character of war’

2)      Global Security discourse

GWP: ‘International and Global Security’

Week 7

1)      Political Economy and Global forces

GWP: ‘International Political Economy in an age of globalization’

2)      International legal structures, procedures and implications

GWP: ‘ International Law’

Blog content:

I.            El-erian: ‘The shape of global economy will fundamentally change’

II.            Rivoli: ‘Travels of a t shirt in the global economy’ (video)

Week 8

1)      Politics of Geography and Shaping of future Politics

Video+ Classroom Exercise: ‘The Revenge of Geography’ : Robert D. Kaplan

2)      Transnationalism and its consequences

GWP: ‘Transnational Actors and international organizations in global politics’

 International Issues, developments and transformations

Week 9

1)      Globalising Terrorism & New forms of terror

GWP: ‘Terrorism and Globalization’

Week 10

1)      Human rights and Human Security

GWP: ‘ Human Security’, ‘Human rights’

Week 11

1)      Globalization

GWP: ‘Globalization and the transformation of political community’

GWP ‘ Globalization and the post-cold-war order’

 Post America, Asian century and No One’s world

Week 12

1)      End of American Century

Walt: The end of the American Era

Slaughter: ‘America’s edge

Week 13

1)      Asian Century


Video: Is the US a force for good in the world: Friedman debate

2)      US Foreign Policy in Pacific/ Asian Century

Blog Content:

  1. Kaplan: ‘South China sea is the future of conflict’

Technology and Politics

Week 14

1)      Cyber revolutions and Global Politics

Carpenter and Drezner ‘International Relations 2.0’

Nye, ‘Information revolution and American Soft Power’

Der Derian, ‘The question of Information Technology in International Relations’

Future Road Maps: Student Platform

Week 15: Group Presentations