Why do we fight? How is peace built? Is democracy good? Is it possible everywhere? How shall we deal with global challenges like terrorism, nuclear weapons, climate change, and cybersecurity? The course will explore answers to some of these most pressing questions of our time.
The course is a daily discussion seminar that examines many of the central concepts, theories, and tools used in contemporary social science to understand and explain international affairs through a review of major academic writings, lectures, and class discussion.
The first week of the course engages with some of the leading debates of the post-Cold War period––like Fukuyama's End of History and Huntington's Clash of Civilizations theses––as a segue to discussing theories of international relations.
The second week introduces and critically evaluates the three dominant schools in international relations theory by a brief overview of some of their classical texts like Thucydides, Kant, and Hobbes, as well as scholarly literature.
The final week is entirely dedicated to thematic conversations on some of the most pressing issues of our time like terrorism, nuclear weapons, and climate change, engaging these issues through popular movies and documentaries like Jehane Noujaim's The Square, Lucy Walker's Countdown to Zero, Alex Gibney's Zero Days, and Charles Ferguson's Time to Choose.
The instructor received a strong academic training on these issues, including an MA from Columbia University on Fulbright fellowship. He has also spent several years working in the field on some of these issues as a field correspondent covering the Arab Spring, a research fellow for NATO's Counter-Terrorism Research Center, and a senior aide for Pugwash Conferences, the laureate of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for its work on nuclear armed conflict, which will bring unique perspectives to the class discussions.
The syllabus is comprised of core texts taught almost universally in political science programs. Therefore, this course would give its students a head start in their future studies in this field, as well as a better understanding of current events.
Introduce fundamental questions on the state and nature of modern international relations,
Develop an understanding of various theoretical perspectives on the conduct of international relations.
Critically engage with pressing issues like terrorism, nuclear weapons, and climate change
Develop skills required for researching and composing a successful college paper.
Prerequisites: None––except for an inquisitive mind, an interest in current affairs, and a liking for reading.