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INT'L SERVICE UNDERGRADUATE

SISU-106 First Year Seminar Course Level: Undergraduate

First Year Seminar (3) Topics vary by section. This seminar course introduces first year SIS students to critical issues in world affairs. Not repeatable for credit. Grading: A-F only. Restriction: first-year SIS students.

SISU-106-002
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: China: Politics/Foreign Policy
China: Politics and Foreign Policy (3) This course focuses on contemporary China, examining its society, politics, and foreign policy. The course first familiarizes students with an overview of China's development from historical and theoretical perspectives. It then examines Chinese society and politics, including state-society relations, and economic and political reforms. In studying Chinese foreign policy, a variety of issues and policy analyses, such as the domestic foundations of foreign policy, and relations between China and major powers and its Asian neighbors, are covered. As a theoretically-informed empirical study, the course is a combination of lectures, student presentations, and guest speeches from leading scholars and practitioners. A variety of perspectives as analytical tools for research are introduced and significant controversies are analyzed as a way of participating in the field's theoretical and policy debates.
SISU-106-003
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Global Cities
Global Cities (3) This seminar explores the nature, as dynamic spaces, of fourteen global cities. The class examines their social, political, and economic processes through considerations of urban form and culture and the disruptions of climate change, migration, and social transformation. The seminar prepares students to make an informed choice by focusing on potential study abroad sites including Beijing, Chengdu, Mumbai, Tokyo, Seoul, Nairobi, Cape Town, Cairo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Copenhagen, and London, as well as Washington, DC.
SISU-106-004
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: From Bean to Brew
From Bean to Brew: The International Myths, Methods and Power of Coffee (3) This course is an exploration of one of the most popular beverages in the world--coffee. A tool of diplomats, workers, and students, coffee has been a staple underlying international discourse from halls of the Ottoman Empire to the coffee houses that became the first stock exchanges in Amsterdam, to the wood-paneled refuge of Starbucks. The course examines the life-cycle of coffee from the bean that is picked to the brewed cup, looking at the human rights, international law, trade, social, and economic impacts of one of the most ubiquitous commodities in the world.
SISU-106-005
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Beyond Urban vs Rural
Beyond Urban vs Rural (3) The urban and rural are often viewed as distinct spheres, but constructing them as opposites depends upon generalizations and assumptions (that, for instance cities don't have nature, that the countryside is all white, that migration is linear). Moreover, it can further divide communities that share struggles such as economic disparity, racism, food insecurity, labor exploitation, drug addiction, or climate change. Such dichotomizations are false, but they have politically and socially divisive consequences in the United States and beyond, and also further erase Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Asian-American, and immigrant experiences of rurality. This course analyzes historical and contemporary parallels and connections linking urban and rural places and people and examines what it means to be rural or urban, and can one be both; as well as how do we move beyond a simplistic binary to a more integrative, honest, and just spatial imaginary. Drawing on literature, data, policy, history, social theory, geography, art, media, and personal experiences, students explore how the rural and the urban have been constructed and how this divide is sharpened via stereotypes. They also engage phenomena that destabilize this binary, from small town mosques to urban forests to Appalachian feminism to city seed-swaps to Hispanic immigration to suburbia.
SISU-106-006
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Gross National Happiness
Gross National Happiness (3) What makes a nation happy? This seminar explores the defining, the determining, and the significance of happiness in world politics. From surveys to social engineering, students enter an active space for discussing the means and ends of national fulfillment.
SISU-106-007
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: When Worldviews Clash
When Worldviews Clash: Navigating Constructively Across Identity Fault Lines (3) This seminar explores the complex and dynamic configuration of identity with respect to the social constructions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual expression, and class within a historical, theoretical, and practice-oriented framework. A racial, ethnic, or gendered understanding of one's identity in relation to others is neither exhaustive nor inherently correct. No one descriptor captures the essence of one's identity. A person's worldview can block understanding of alternatives, and even blind a person from understanding the basis of their own perspectives. This restrictive scope creates opportunities for misunderstandings and stereotypes, which invariably lead to conflict. Identity issues are complex, and as such, the seminar provides students with the necessary skills and information to navigate effectively across different worldviews and belief states. Students draw from readings, experiential activities, and analyses of relevant articles. They examine case studies, engage in constructive dialogue, and participate in other activities as appropriate.
SISU-106-008
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: What Is Suffering?
What is Suffering? (3) This course explores questions such as: why there is so much pain in the world, is there a purpose to such affliction, and how do we relate to our own pain and that of others. Using literary, philosophical, and political texts, this seminar probes the place of suffering in the human experience.
SISU-106-009
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Culture and Power in Int'l Ed
Culture and Power in International Education (3) Around the globe, education is becoming recognized as a fundamental human right key to the development of individuals, communities, and nations. Indeed, education can help empower, open opportunities, combat poverty, support innovation, and spur economic growth. But at the same time, the educational process can, and does, also serve to disempower people, further marginalize communities, and more deeply entrench existing social inequalities. This course looks at how and why this happens and what can be done about it. Using multimedia case studies from international educational development initiatives, the course critically examines these twin powers of education and considers their impacts on global educational initiatives.
SISU-106-010
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: The Psych & Pol of Genocide
The Psychology and Politics of Genocide (3) This interdisciplinary course explores the psychology of genocide as a form of mass killing and the social and political circumstances that facilitate it. The course theme is examined through the following case studies: the Holocaust, Stalin's genocides, the Cambodian genocide, ethnic cleansing and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Rwandan genocide. A major research component of the course work is conducted by consulting the archival collections of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
SISU-106-011
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Culture and Religion
Culture and Religion: Catalysts for Peace and Conflict (3) This course explores the role of identity, especially culture and religion in generating and sustaining dynamics of peace and conflict. In our global reality, awareness of and responses to cultural diversity are essential to the formation and development of academic and professional competencies. The course focuses on introductory concepts of peace and conflict resolution as they relate to the management of cultural and religious differences. Analytical tools, such as: critical thinking, problem solving, and emotional literacy, are introduced to identify and understand the role of prejudice and stereotypes in cultural and religious conflict contexts. International, national, and community examples and cases are utilized throughout the course to enhance students' basic skills of naming and analyzing constructive and destructive responses to cultural and religious differences.
SISU-106-012
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Iden Pol in Multicultural Soc
Identity Politics in Multicultural Societies: U.S. and Malaysia (3) This course examines the impact of ethnicity, religion, and identity politics on the political, economic, and social development of multicultural societies, with special focus on Malaysia and America. The theoretical inquiry on different and multi-layered "forms of belonging" focuses on structures and agents, institutions, and processes--political, economic, religious, and cultural--that are fundamental to the shaping and re-shaping of identity and culture at the individual, family, communal, national, and global levels. Key determinants of contemporary Malaysian and American identity formation examined include citizenship and nationhood, family and community, ethnicity and race, religion, class, gender, and migration, as well as the impact of the market and mass consumption in a globalizing and interdependent world. Apart from scholarly texts, films/videos, fiction, novels, and graphic novels are used to further illuminate the manner in which political, economic, socio-cultural, and religious changes have impacted on the process of identity formation and inter-ethnic cultural construction at the different levels of analysis used in the investigative framework.
SISU-106-014
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Guerrillas, Insurgnts, Paramil
Guerrillas, Insurgents, and Paramilitaries (3) This course focuses on non-state combatant groups. Students examine how these groups are formed, what their goals are, how they are organized, and how they intersect with civilian populations.
SISU-106-015
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Conflict & the Graphic Novel
Conflict and the Graphic Novel (3) This course takes a new approach to understanding the roots and consequences of violent conflict in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: through the graphic novel. Graphic novelists have created works that not only serve as introductions to critically important world events, but also point to larger truths about the use of violence to achieve political ends. Using both graphic novels and seminal works in political science, the course covers themes such as insurgency, ethnic conflict, strategic bombing, terrorism, and genocide. Students gain a deeper appreciation of the roots of violent conflict and a better understanding of how to communicate ideas and themes more effectively in oral and written form.
SISU-106-016
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: War & Peace in Modern Lit
War and Peace in Modern Literature (3) Our concept of modern war started with World War I. The utter destructiveness of the war, its senseless battles that cost millions of lives, had a profound impact, particularly on artists. Making sense of the brutality and the consequences of the "Great War," the advent of the so-called "lost generation" ushered in new forms of writing that broke with previous literary traditions and produced visions of nature and time, use of language, and representation of consciousness that were of a profoundly different type than what had preceded the rise of "industrialized" warfare. This course examines what great writers of the century have observed about the horrors of modern warfare, the trauma and dehumanization of combatants and, increasingly, of innocent civilians. The books focused on are Erich Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, Joseph Heller's Catch 22, Irene Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise, Dalia Sofer's The September of Shiraz, and Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner.
SISU-106-017
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Genocide & Pol of Intl Law
Genocide and the Politics of International Law (3) In this course, students critically approach political and legal questions around the study of genocide. Students follow the evolution of the Genocide Convention from its conception to its original draft to its adopted text. Students perform case studies and consider whether treatment of the Armenians amounted to genocide and whether the Holocaust was unique. Further, students determine whether the Responsibility to Protect removes the blind spots found in the Genocide Convention and analyze the potential roles the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court can play in deterring state-sponsored genocide. Throughout the course, students work to strengthen their writing and critical thinking skills.
SISU-106-018
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Social Entrepreneurship
Social Entrepreneurship: Making Positive Change (3) This course examines some of the problems that social entrepreneurs successfully tackle around the world, including how poor vendors in Bangladesh can get out of the strangle hold of money lenders and start building prosperous lives; how people can adopt new ways of cooking that do not pollute their homes with smoke and cause deforestation in their communities; and how girls can attend school in societies where education for women is not the norm. Students learn about social entrepreneurship and practice the tools and methods used in the field.
SISU-106-020
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Power, Justice & Global Health
Power, Justice, and Global Health Among Immigrant and Refugee Populations (3) Global changes in migratory patterns, the increasing health inequities faced by the poor in the United States and around the world, and the health risks faced by many immigrants and refugees at the margins of global societies have drawn attention to the relevance of studying structural and sociocultural factors to better understand global health issues in context, how to reduce health inequities, and promote social justice. This course examines how power and justice relate to global health and the role of social, cultural, religious, political, and economic factors in health among immigrant and refugee populations.
SISU-106-001
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Soc Movements/Society in MENA
Social Movements and Society in MENA (3) This seminar examines social movements and civil society in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The Arab Revolts of 2011 brought to the limelight the potential of popular movements rooted in civil society in MENA. In an effort to map this understudied level of MENA politics, this course first introduces students to the history of MENA, foundational scholarly work on non-violent social movements and civil society, basic rules and practices of scholarly research, and proceeds to engage students in a major research project on MENA civil society. Students study several movements for change in the region, including Lebanon (2005), Iran (2009), Tunisia and Egypt (both 2011).
SISU-106-002
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Water in World Politics
Water in World Politics (3) Water is many things: a basic human need, the lifeblood of critical ecosystems, a source of livelihoods, an unpredictable flow, a powerful destructive force, the chief delivery mechanism for the social and ecological effects of climate change, and a commodity with increasing value in many parts of the world. This seminar examines several of the major water challenges facing the world in the twenty-first century. In doing so, it uses water as a window on several key concepts and processes in world politics, including conflict, cooperation, sovereignty, identity, political economy, justice, borders, and globalization.
SISU-106-003
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: War, Politics & Silver Screen
War, Politics and the Silver Screen (3) From Hollywood thrillers such as Green Zone to Academy Award winners such as The Hurt Locker, the silver screen continues to offer a rich medium for the study of international relations (IR). This seminar uses the medium of films to understand key theoretical issues in IR and examine how contemporary movies reflect our understanding of the nature of the state, the role of U.S. power, transnational challenges such as war, environmental pressures, criminal networks, the behavior of non-state states actors, as well as exploring how they all impact and shape the international system in the twenty-first century.
SISU-106-004
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Thinking Modern World/Du Bois
Thinking the Modern World with W.E.B. Du Bois (3) W.E.B. Du Bois, a founding figure of the social sciences in the United States, argued that the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line. In this seminar, students explore Du Boisian social thought, how it broke with the academic and popular orthodoxy of its time, and its persistent significance today. Du Bois was a social theorist and researcher for whom processes of racialization and racial domination were central to understanding the modern world. He was also a public intellectual committed to the liberation of oppressed peoples. Engaging with Du Bois's original works and more recent sources, students critically examine the racial dynamics of some of today's most pressing global issues, including inequality, climate change, conflict, and migration, among others.
SISU-106-005
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Counter Terror Pol & Am Pres
Counter Terrorism Policy and the American Presidency (3) This course examines the evolution of U.S. counter terrorism policy since the end of the Cold War by studying how various American presidents have confronted the challenge of terrorism. As such, it focuses on the similarities and differences that have emerged over the years on how to most effectively counter terrorism. The course carefully examines how international politics interacts with domestic politics to shape, frame, and produce America's counter terrorism policies. The course then shifts to a historical approach to this topic by examining various past presidential administrations. Students explore and debate questions such as what the counter terrorism policy was of each administration; how they decided on this strategy; what factors influenced its creation; how it was implemented; and, of course, whether it was successful. Students develop a comprehensive understanding of what part counter terrorism plays in national security and what the outlook is for countering these threats.
SISU-106-006
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Woodrow Wilson, Librlsm & Race
Woodrow Wilson, Liberalism, and Race (3) Alternately celebrated and castigated for pioneering modern American liberalism in foreign and economic policy, Woodrow Wilson's presidency is today a focal point of debate over racism in modern America. This course examines the relation between Wilson's liberalism and his presidential actions in foreign policy, economic policy, and race relations, and whether these actions apply, contradict, or remake the beliefs he brought with him into the White House. As the first and only PhD to become president, Wilson offers a rare opportunity to critically interpret a presidential administration in light of the previous development and articulation of his beliefs across decades of influential scholarship.
SISU-106-007
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: China From the Inside
China From the Inside (3) This course draws on memoirs, documentaries, guest speakers, and student interviews to provide a worm's-eye view of China from 1911 to today. The course provides students with an understanding of the complex challenges of Chinese identity today, as ordinary people try to satisfy their pent-up aspirations and deal with entrenched problems of environmental degradation and political repression.
SISU-106-008
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Why Do They Love and Hate Us?
Why Do They Love and Hate Us? (3) This course examines a number of global issues from a non-Western perspective, including societal values (free speech vs. religious rights, gender equality vs. gender inequality, etc.); environmental degradation; human rights; food security/insecurity; civil liberties vs. internal security; use of force (what concepts of justice govern the use of force and how they vary across cultures); development (is it imperialist of the West to assert that much of the world is not developed?); and human security.
SISU-106-009
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Environmental Ethics
Environmental Ethics (3) This course focuses on how one can live most deeply and responsibly in the face of global environmental dangers, with the aim to understand the meaning of the "good life" at this historical moment of environmental intensification. Students read philosophically oriented and literary texts, and draw on their own experiences of place, memory, writing, and loss to develop ways of knowing and engaging in environmental politics.
SISU-106-010
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Struggle for Mid East Pol Chng
The Struggle for Political Change in the Middle East (3) This course focuses on the prospects for political change in the Middle East in light of both the stunning protest movements of 2011 and the considerable obstacles to achieving their aspirations for political change which have emerged since. The course begins with an overview of the various aspects of the initial mobilizations including the primary grievances, the role of youth and women, the role of social media, etc. It then considers the gains, success stories, and ongoing promise of the era of protest and change in the Middle East as well as the many subsequent setbacks and formidable challenges including the turn to violence, the role of foreign powers, Islamist-secular divides, and enduring authoritarian structures. Students consider the unique political context of and differing post-uprising paths taken in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Iran. Throughout the course, they critically examine each county in order to gain better insight into current predicaments and prospects for long-term political change in each case individually and the region as a whole.
SISU-106-011
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Disasters & Int'l Cooperation
Disasters and International Cooperation (3) This course examines variously successful international responses to environmental disasters and questions including what impact emergencies such as the Chernobyl nuclear accident and protracted crises like the hole in the ozone layer have on the prospects of international cooperation; who are the main actors seeking to prevent similar problems in the future; and how effective are their strategies. In addition to examining the institutional roots of successful cooperation and the diversity of regional approaches, the class also considers the connections between environmental challenges and questions of economic growth, power, security, international integration, and state sovereignty.
SISU-106-012
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Globalization 3.0
Globalization 3.0 (3) This course considers the three periods of intense globalization which touched the new and the old worlds. Students examine how and why the first two ended badly for Europe, East Asia, and Latin America, and discuss scenarios for the evolution of the current globalization.
SISU-106-013
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Globalizatn: Winners & Losers
Globalization: Winners and Losers (3) We live in a globalized world, where goods are produced and then shipped all over the world. Wal-Mart, with its worldwide reach and market power, represents the best and the worst of this global economy. Consumers love its everyday low prices while workers rail against its labor practices and environmentalists fight over whether it is doing enough to reduce its carbon footprint. While Wal-Mart paved the way, Amazon has continued to transform the way consumption, work, community, and the world are thought about. This course examines the global supply chain -- from extraction of natural resources, to manufacturing, distribution, and retail. Students analyze who are the winners and losers in a globalized economy, and think about how business practices, government policies, and consumer demands affect outcomes. Is the only outcome a race to the bottom where workers' rights are sacrificed and developing countries become host to factories that some call sweatshops? Is corporate social responsibility a solution? Is ethical shopping? To make the local-global connection students visit a Wal-Mart store in downtown Washington, D.C. and evaluate its impact on the local community.
SISU-106-014
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Foreign Policy Simulation
Foreign Policy Simulation (3) This course gives students the chance to explore how and why American officials make certain foreign policy decisions by examining the process of American foreign policy-making. It also integrates role-playing simulations, which helps students understand the sort of challenges and dilemmas that policy-makers routinely face.
SISU-106-015
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Iden Pol in Multicultural Soc
Identity Politics in Multicultural Societies: U.S. and Malaysia (3) This course examines the impact of ethnicity, religion, and identity politics on the political, economic, and social development of multicultural societies, with special focus on Malaysia and America. The theoretical inquiry on different and multi-layered "forms of belonging" focuses on structures and agents, institutions, and processes--political, economic, religious, and cultural--that are fundamental to the shaping and re-shaping of identity and culture at the individual, family, communal, national, and global levels. Key determinants of contemporary Malaysian and American identity formation examined include citizenship and nationhood, family and community, ethnicity and race, religion, class, gender, and migration, as well as the impact of the market and mass consumption in a globalizing and interdependent world. Apart from scholarly texts, films/videos, fiction, novels and graphic novels are used to further illuminate the manner in which political, economic, socio-cultural, and religious changes have impacted on the process of identity formation and inter-ethnic cultural construction at the different levels of analysis used in the investigative framework.
SISU-106-016
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Freedom in Western Democ Thght
As a part of this course, students will engage with a nonprofit agency or school in the D.C. area to apply their course knowledge. Freedom and Solidarity in Western Democratic Thought (3) Through close readings of Tocqueville and Rousseau, students examine fundamental themes and debates in Western democratic thought such as freedom, inequality, legitimacy, and cultural norms. Students practice civic solidarity through service learning in a low income Washington, DC community, and also utilize ideas from philosophy to analyze how democracies fared during great crises of the last century from World War I through the 2008 economic crash.
SISU-106-017
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Weird International Relations
Weird International Relations (3) This seminar introduces students to the idea of a deviant case--a rare phenomenon that cannot be explained by existing theory. It focuses on the funny and bizarre stories that puzzle and amuse scholars. By studying weird international relations, students strengthen their understanding of the field while sharpening their critical thinking skills.
SISU-106-018
Term: Spring 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Building a Post-Carbon World
Building a Post-Carbon World (3) It is essential, for a host of pressing reasons, that human societies be weaned from fossil fuels like oil and coal. The need is clear, but the path less so. This course looks at the roles played by fossil fuels in the constitution of key global environmental and economic challenges. It then looks at different visions for a post-carbon world and considers the politics of such a large-scale transition. Along the way, students work to understand what drives environmental harm and economic unrest, to become familiar with the core mechanisms of global environmental governance, and to unpack the essential features of effective environmental action.