PS 103 Introduction to International Relations

This class will cover the major issues in international relations since the end of World War II. We will discuss a variety of topics from both a theoretical and an empirical perspective, including: the causes of war; civil wars and ethnic conflict; economic development; international trade; exchange rates and international monetary relations; international capital flows and financial crises; foreign direct investment; globalization and the environment; the UN, the IMF, World Bank, WTO, and other international organizations; and international law and human rights. Although this is by no means a history or economics class, we will cover a fair bit of history (and some international economics), in order to provide background and key context for current debates in international relations.  We will spend relatively little time discussing particular countries and their internal politics and problems (although we will talk extensively about the links between domestic politics and IR); rather our focus will be on states’ relations with each other and the factors determining the nature and outcomes of these international interactions.

The goal for this course is to further your understanding of international relations, but also to help you develop analytical tools for thinking about important questions in world politics regardless of the countries or issues involved. The political science approach to international politics is a mix of ideas and data; the goal is to use conceptual tools that help us understand particular sets of facts about a wide range of topics. My hope is that students will leave the course with a better understanding of world politics and how to think about international affairs in a systematic way.