Regional integration – the deepening of economic and political ties between states in particular geographic areas of the world – is one of the defining features of contemporary globalization. Yet while examples of regional integration abound (e.g., the European Union (EU), North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the reasons for this increased “regionalization” or “regionalism” are less well understood. How has this process varied over time and space? What factors have driven it? How do regionalization and globalization relate to each other? Finally, what are the consequences of regional integration for economic development, democratic governance, and other key issues?
This course addresses these questions through a focus on “comparative regional integration.” We begin by introducing the topic of regional integration and some basic theories of international political economy and international cooperation that we will use throughout the semester. We then turn to theories of regional integration, which we will use to develop a set of possible explanations for the “real world” variation in regionalization. In the third part of the course, we focus on the world’s most successful and extensive experiment in regional integration: the European Union (EU). We then offer comparative survey of regional integration efforts across a variety of issue areas, including aid/development, security, human rights, and money/finance. We will pay particularly attention in this section to the question of whether the European model/experience of regional integration is a useful example for understanding and explaining these other regional integration efforts. Finally, we conclude with an assessment of the implications of regional integration for economic development, democracy, and other key issues.