Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

PLSC 102 International Relations in an Age of Globalization

Summer 2016 - Session I

Professor Alex Grigorescu                                                                  e-mail: agrigor@luc.edu

Department of Political Science                                                         office hours: M 1-2 p.m.,

Loyola University Chicago                                                                 W 8-9 a.m. & by appointment                                                                                                                       

PLSC 102: International Relations in an Age of Globalization

Summer 2016 - John Felice Rome Center



Course Description:


PLSC 102 is designed to introduce students to the major concepts and approaches in the study of international relations.  It seeks to treat the subject in an analytical and theoretical manner.  We will discuss different approaches used in study of the field, as well as the assumptions and consequences involved in the use of such approaches. 


The course will rely on examples from different areas of the world and from different moments in history.  Although this is not a course on current events, in our discussions, we will also use examples of events that are still unfolding.  It is very important therefore to keep abreast of such international events from the media.  Some media sources can be accessed online (see, e.g., http://www.luc.edu/politicalscience/resources.shtml). 


Of course, as the course takes place in Rome, I plan on taking advantage of some of the resources of this important, truly international, city. One session we will visit one of the major intergovernmental organizations that is part of the United Nations system headquartered in Rome (either the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program or the International Fund for Agricultural Development). We will also have guest speakers in class from the diplomatic community in Rome and from some of the European institutions. Of course, we will also discuss how the history of the Roman Empire and of Italy offer examples for the theoretical arguments and concepts we discuss in class. 


The first part of the course will cover the basic concepts and theories used in the study of international relations.  We will identify the main “actors” constituting the global system as well as the types of relations that link them.  We will also discuss how some of the main theoretical perspectives have evolved.


In the second part of the term, we will focus on specific issues that are of interest to the study of international relations.  We will begin by examining military conflict and war, a traditional concern of both scholars and policy makers.  However, we will go beyond this traditional focus to address other issues such as the global economy, the environment, and human rights.


Learning Objectives:     Students in this course will demonstrate cultural, societal and self understanding in an international context.  They will be exposed to five main aspects of contemporary international relations involving:

  • an examination of the three levels of analysis that have traditionally been employed in the field: the international system as a whole, individual actors, and states. 
  • an exploration of the principal forces motivating international actors. 
  • an examination of the politics of war and peace, including interstate and intra-state war, terrorism, arms control and international law. 
  • a study of the main features of international political economy, with an emphasis on global ties of trade, investment and finance as well as the processes of globalization. 
  • an exploration of human rights, population and environmental issues.   


Skill Development 

This course will reinforce two skills associated with the Core:  Critical Thinking and Dispositions and Ethical Awareness and Decision-Making. 

  1. Students develop skills of critical thinking by learning to:

-          understand and use the main terms and concepts of the field of international relations; apply these terms and concepts to specific issue areas;

-          apply these terms and concepts to individual regions and countries of the world;

-          employ different methods of examining international relations empirically, including case studies and large-n studies;

-          assess alternative approaches to the international system; and make arguments in defense of particular policy positions.


2.  Students gain ethical awareness by learning to:

  • identify the norms underlying various principled approaches to international issues;
  • compare and contrast alternative normative positions;
  • evaluate the relationship between normative claims and real-world problems;
  • employ ethical principles to assess competing policy proposals;
  • appreciate the relevance of normative concerns for everyday political life.




The required textbook for this course is: World Politics: Trend and Transformation, 2014-2015 edition, by Charles W. Kegley Jr.  and Shannon L. Blanton; ISBN: 978-1-285-43727-9.

I will assign several additional readings.  All such materials will be available through Sakai.




Course grades will be calculated according to the following formula:

Sakai Postings/Papers             25%

Attendance/Participation        10%

Mid-term exam                       30%

Final exam                               35%


Grading scale: 94 and above = A; 90.5-93.5 = A-; 87.5-90 = B+; 84-87 = B; 80.5-83.5 = B-; 77.5-80 = C+;74-77 = C; 70.5-73.5 = C-; 67.5-70 = D+; 60 - 67 = D; Less than 60 = F


Sakai postings/papers: There are five postings you need to complete in Sakai. Each posting should respond to a specific question I ask. Your answers will take the form of approximately 1-page papers. Each posting is worth 5 points. I will accept postings up to 24 hours late but will only give half credit for them.


Attendance and Participation: Attendance is an important requirement for this course. I will take off 1 point (1% of the total grade) for each unexcused absence. I will offer many opportunities for class discussions. Your participation in such discussions will affect your overall grade.


Exams: There will be a mid-term and a final exam. The mid-term is on June 6.  The final exam is on June 22. The final will be based on all materials covered after the midterm exam (it is not cumulative). The exams will consist of multiple choice and short answer questions.


Academic Honesty


In writing course papers (including all Sakai postings), students must document all passages, paraphrases, and ideas that are borrowed from any source.  Direct quotations must be placed within quotation marks.  Papers must represent research conducted for the course in which they are assigned and no other; it is not appropriate to submit a paper that has already been or will be submitted for another course.  Finally, papers must be the product of the student’s own work. Papers written by anyone other than the student, including those purchased from commercial services, are unacceptable. 

Academic dishonesty on an examination or other assignments is inconsistent with Loyola’s standards of academic integrity.  This includes, in the words of the catalogue, “obtaining, distributing or communicating examination material prior to the scheduled examination without the consent of the teacher; providing to, or obtaining information from, another student during the examination; or attempting to change answers after the examination has been submitted.” 

Additional rules concerning academic integrity and examples of acceptable and unacceptable conduct can be found in the current Undergraduate Studies Catalogue and at http://www.luc.edu/academics/catalog/undergrad/reg_academicintegrity.shtml


Schedule for readings, postings and exams


Note: I may make changes to these dates and/or to the readings to improve class dynamics. It is the student’s responsibility to remain informed about all class activities.


You need to complete the readings before coming to class as our discussions will partly be based on the textbook materials.


Day                                         Topics/subtopics/exams                                                         Readings               


Monday, May 23                    Introduction and Theoretical Approaches                         Ch.1 & 2

levels of Analysis, Idealism; Realism and Neorealism; critiques of Realism; other theoretical approaches                                               


Wednesday, May 25               Sakai posting #1 (on IR theories) due by 9 a.m. on class day

                                                The State as Actor: Foreign Policy Decision Making        Ch. 3                                                  

rationality and its assumptions; Cuban Missile Crisis; models of decision making


Monday, May 30                    Sakai posting #2 (on terrorism) due by 9 a.m. on class day                                                          

                                                Intergovernmental and Nongovernmental Actors             Ch. 6 & 7                                           

League of Nations and United Nations; EU as an (only 218- example of regional IGO; NGOs; terrorist groups;  222) multinational corporations and other non-state actors


Wednesday, June 1                 Sakai posting #3 (on power) due by 9 a.m. on class day

                                                The Concept of Power                                                          Ch.8                                                   

Power as a reflection of capabilities military power; economic power; soft power


Monday, June 6                      Midterm

                                                Relations among actors                                                        Ch. 4 & 5                                           

World War II; the Cold War; decolonization; post-Cold War era


Wednesday, June 8                 On site: Visit to intergovernmental institution (TBD)


Monday, June 13                    Sakai posting #4 on (on site visit) due by 9 a.m. on class day


                                                Global Conflict; Paths to Peace                                           Ch. 9 & 7                                           

characteristics of conflict; causes of conflict; international law; disarmament       (190-217)


Wednesday, June 15               Sakai posting # 5 (on globalization) due by 9 a.m. on class day

                                                 The Globalized Political Economy                                       Ch. 10-11                                           

international trade; GATT and the WTO; Globalization


Monday, June 20                    Human Rights, Population and the Environment Ch.12-14                                            

The concept of human rights; human rights in the aftermath of WWII; human rights in the Cold War and post-Cold War eras; types of rights the tragedy of the commons; population increase and international politics; three global environmental problems


Wednesday, June 22               Conclusions                                                                            Ch 15


                                                Final Exam