POL 102 - Fall 2020
Mondays and Thursdays, 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Rowley Hall, Room G127
Professor Chad Rector (make an appointment)
This course is an overview of how political scientists think about international relations. The course is divided into three parts, each with a central question:
- Why do wars happen?
- When do countries cooperate?
- What are the causes and consequences of American foreign policy choices?
As we address these topics, we will consider various issues including wars, civil wars, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, hunger, human rights, trade, migration, and other topics chosen by the class.
The course is taught as a combination of large class sessions and small team meetings. For each of the three parts of the class I will divide the class into teams - these teams then meet with me and complete some short projects together. I will reassign teams for each of the three parts of the course.
I will post a full syllabus in August.
Each assignment is worth a fixed number of points, listed below; these add up to 100. Each assignment will be returned with a numerical score. Course grades will be based on the total number of points out of the 100 possible, with 90 and above is an A, 80-89 is a B, 70-79 is a C, 60-69 is a D, and 59 and below an F.
There are 10 assignments for the course:
- Introduction. 1 point. Each student will complete a short series of prompts and an individual meeting with me.
- Three short papers. 9 points each (27 points total). Each paper is no more than three pages long. Assignments will be posted with each part of the course. These papers will be completed by students individually.
- Three team projects. 9 points each (27 points total). At the start of each part of the course I will assign teams, and will meet with each team several times. Each team will complete a short research project and present their findings to the class as a whole. Assignments will be posted with each part of the course.
- Three exams. 15 points each (45 points total). At the end of each part of the course. Each exam has two sections:
- 5 short-answer identification questions worth 2 points each (choose 5 out of 8).
- 1 essay question worth 5 points in which students compare the topics of two different team presentations other than their own.
There are substantial opportunities for extra credit:
- Study group meeting. Each member of a group of at least three students that meets with me outside of class time will get 1 point of extra credit. Study group members will show me outlines of answers to at least 4 potential ID terms for the exam. This assignment may be repeated up to three times, once for each exam. Details of that assignment are here.
- Class participation. I will give up to 3 points to students who regularly attend class prepared to discuss the readings and apply them to contemporary issues, and make sustained contributions to the class.
- Extra credit games. We will play several games in class over the semester. Students who are in class will receive extra credit points, depending on how they do in the game. Games will not be announced ahead of time, cannot be made up, and will not be held on recognized religious holidays.
- DC event. 5 points for a first event and 3 points for a second. Attend an event in the DC area on any subject related to world politics, broadly defined, and write a paragraph summarizing your experience. Specific instructions about attending and reporting on events are here. You will receive 5 extra credit points for one event and post, and 3 points for a second. All events must be completed and posted by the Saturday after the final exam. If you intend to do an event or two for extra credit I strongly advise you to plan ahead, early in the semester.
- Monday, October 7
- Thursday, October 31
- Thursday, December 12, 9:00 am to 11:30 am
- Students who miss exams will have one chance to take a makeup and will be marked down unless they have a valid medical or university business excuse.
- Students turning in papers containing plagiarism will fail the course and be formally charged through the University’s Academic Integrity process.
- Papers will be marked down one point for each day (or fraction of a day) late for the first five days after the deadline; any paper late more than five days may be turned in for up to half credit at any time before the final exam.
For reference, here are all of the exams from prior semesters. Starting in fall 2020 the format for the second part of the exam is different. However, the first part the exam is the same as in these previous years.
Course Schedule and Readings
The textbook for the course is World Politics: Interests, Interactions, Institutions, 4th edition, by Frieden, Lake, and Schultz. It is available electronically from the publisher, although used paperback copies are sometimes cheaper.
Reading assignments should be completed before the class session under which they are listed. Most readings are assigned from the textbook. Other readings are linked.
Monday, August 24
Introduction and overview (slides)
Introduction assignment (due by September 4)
Part 1: Conflict
Thursday, August 27
Reading: Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Chapters 1-2 (link)
Monday, August 31 - No class meeting today
Reading: Chapters 1 and 2
First team meeting scheduled between
Monday, August 31 - Wednesday, September 2
Thursday, September 3
Thursday, September 10
Reading: Chapter 3
Monday, September 14
Reading: George Kennan, The Sources of Soviet Conduct (link)
Thursday, September 17 - no class today
Reading: Chapter 4
Second team meeting scheduled between
Tuesday, Sept 15 - Friday, Sept 18
Monday, September 21
Reading: FLS, Chapter 6
Thursday, September 24
Monday, September 28
Thursday, October 1
Part 2: Cooperation
Monday, October 5
Reading: Chapter 13
Thursday, October 8
Reading: Chapter 7
New teams formed
Third team meeting scheduled between
Friday, October 9 - Wednesday, October 14
Monday, October 12 (Tuesday, October 13)
No class meeting today
Thursday, October 15
The World Trade Organization (slides)
Monday, October 19
Fourth team meeting scheduled between
Tuesday, October 20 - Friday, October 23
Thursday, October 22 - No class meeting today
Monday, October 26
International organization (slides)
Reading: FLS, Chapter 11
Thursday, October 29
Human rights (slides)
Reading: FLS, Chapter 12
Monday, November 2
Thursday, November 5
Monday, November 9
Part 3: The United States
Thursday, November 12
Monday, November 16
Hegemony and Interdependence
Reading: Exit from Hegemony update (TBA)
New teams formed
Fifth team meeting scheduled between
Tuesday, November 17 - Friday, November 20
Thursday, November 19 - No class meeting today
Monday, November 23
American foreign policy (slides)
Sixth team meeting scheduled between
Monday, November 23 - Monday, November 30
Monday, November 30
Thursday, December 3
Review and discussion
Day of the final exam