World Politics

Questions?

  • University College
    202-885-6737
    universitycollege@american.edu
    Anderson, Room 1014

    Wyatt, Jamie J
    Associate Director, University College and Learning Communities

Mailing Address

SIS-105

Fall Semester Seminar with Spring Research Project and Symposium, GenEd area 3

Patterns of conflict and cooperation in a rapidly changing world. The primary focus is on concepts and theories which provide a framework for analyzing and understanding contemporary issues. The course examines the behavior of states and other international actors, seeks to explain foreign policies, and identifies the main characteristics of interaction among states.

World Politics is an introduction to the study of global issues in the contemporary era. The subject is a broad, complex one that is constantly shifting and evolving even as scholars try to develop theories to explain it and policy makers try to manage foreign policy from day-to-day. This course will provide students with a solid background and understanding of the major trends and issues of current world politics, by working through the main theories and explanations used by scholars working in this complex field.

The purpose of this course is to provide you with a basic introduction to the study of world politics, or "international relations" as it is sometimes (perhaps inaccurately) called. Our avenue of approach to this extremely large subject-matter will be through an investigation of the major theoretical positions in the academic field of International Relations (IR), and a critical examination of how these theories hold up to the actual events of world politics both past and present (and perhaps even future). Our goal will be to develop critical, creative, and sustainable positions regarding three big issue-areas—security, prosperity, and justice—as they relate to a variety of empirical settings. Students should expect to do a lot of arguing, debating, and reflecting over the course of the semester, and should also expect to come out of the course with a better sense of your own take on some globally important questions.

World Politics is an interdisciplinary course that draws on the disciplines of political science, economics, sociology and history to provide an overview of the complexities of international relations. It seeks to present a conceptual framework and analytical tools for a better understanding of global issues.

Although this is not a course on current events, it will make use of current events and issues to illustrate concepts and demonstrate that world politics is best viewed as a dramatic moving picture, not an album of snapshots.

The student will be introduced to critical concepts, theoretical approaches, policy issues and case studies to the subject, including foreign policy process and the main sources of international tensions such as ethnic, territorial and economic conflicts. In the current period, this means examining issues such as the Iraq war, terrorism, development and poverty in the Global South, the efforts of international and regional institutions, and other concerns.

Importantly, the course seeks to take advantage of the fact that we are located in Washington, DC, which is home to a number of institutions who play or seek to play a significant role on the global stage. Students will visit these government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and have an opportunity to engage directly with those whose efforts impact the nature of world politics.

From the Professor- Rosemary Shinko

How does your University College section of this course differ from a non-University College section?

I take a lot of time to help students learn and practice critical reading, thinking and writing skills. We work together throughout the classes to learn how to become more engaged and active learners. We utilize a variety of informational sources such as documentary films, NYTimes Op Docs, short news segments,video interviews, and a variety of written materials.

How do your Wednesday labs tie into the academic content of your course?

We visit various organizations and governmental institutions, such as the United States Institute of Peace, The Pentagon, State Department, and the Newseum. The labs are designed to afford students an opportunity to gain greater knowledge and depth about a variety of issues and events we have read and discussed in class.

From the Professor- Dylan Craig

How does your University College section of this course differ from a non-University College section?

Students are able to use the city and institutions of Washington DC as an enormous laboratory within which to study international relations in action.

How do your Wednesday labs tie into the academic content of your course?

Labs provide an opportunity to test, reinforce, or qualify the material covered in class, thereby providing a practical and practitioner-oriented perspective to go along with the more theoretical and scholarly ones covered in class.

Meet the Professor!

Rose Shinko

Get to know Professor Skinko's teaching style and learn more about her goals for this class

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Meet the Professor!

Get to know Professor Craig's teaching style and learn more about his goals for the class

Learn more