POL S 521 A: International Relations Core

Meeting Time: 
T 1:30pm - 4:20pm
SMI 111
Prof. Aseem Prakash
Aseem Prakash

Syllabus Description:


Introduction to International Relations 

POL S 521

Aseem Prakash

Fall 2016


Class Time:                  Tuesday, 1:30‐4:20 p.m.  

Class Location:             Smith 111

Office Hours:                 By appointment 

Office:                            39 Gowen 

E‐mail:                           aseem@uw.edu 

Home Page:                   http://faculty.washington.edu/aseem/ 


Course Objective 

This is a core course for graduate students seeking to specialize in international relations, international politics, and/or global public policy. My objective is to expose you to important concepts, themes, and debates in this subfield. Importantly, this course will give you a sense of the state of the art literature in this area. It will also provide you the opportunity to develop a research proposal in order to examine specific issues that are germane to your research interests.



I will assign six journal articles for every session. The PDFs of these articles are available via Canvas.


Course Expectations

This doctoral seminar requires active student participation. You are expected to energetically and thoughtfully contribute to class discussions and to the collective learning processes.

Student Presentations and Class Participation

The Article Memo

For every session, students will present and critique the assigned articles. The discussant-presenter is expected to prepare a two page (single-spaced) summary and critique of article, and email it to the class by Monday, 9:00 am.

How to structure your article memo? Assume a prominent journal has requested you to review the assigned article. Share your evaluation of the article with the class. The discussant-presenter should budget about 10 minutes (max) for the in-class presentation.  

I strongly recommend that you save all the memos generated in this course because they will be very helpful in preparing for the IR comprehensive exam.


The Discussion Questions Memo

I expect everybody to review all assigned readings prior to the class. Those not assigned to present any reading should email a 2-3 discussion questions. This one page “Discussion Questions” memo should be emailed by Monday, 9:00 am. Please provide short discussion on how your questions relate to the theoretical or empirical issues raised in the assigned readings. Feel free to relate these readings to articles/books you may have reviewed in other seminars. As scholars you must learn to cumulate knowledge: drawing connections with readings in different seminars is, therefore, a very good exercise.


Research Proposal

A five page (single-spaced) research proposal is due December 6. Treat this as a first cut for a grant proposal or your MA/PhD proposal. One page proposal outline is due November 8. The research proposal could be structured as follows:

Research Puzzle:         What is the central issue you want to study and why is it theoretically important? It might be helpful to identify your dependent variable(s), independent variable(s), and the logic connecting the two.

Research Context:      How does your topic speak to the IR literature? What are relevant concepts or models? What are the research contributions?

Research Design:        What is the appropriate research strategy to examine your research puzzle? What are your hypotheses? Are they falsifiable? What are your data requirements? How would you analyze and interpret the data?

Contributions:              What new theoretical insights your research is expected to provide? What are the implications for future IR research?



Article critique:                                                        30 points

Key questions memos                                           30 points         

Class participation:                                                 20 points

Research proposal:                                                 20 points



I reserve the right to change the syllabus.


Class Schedule

 Session 1, October 4      

World Politics and International Relations: An Introduction


  • Kenneth Waltz. 1988. The Origins of War in Neorealist Theory. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 18(4): 615-628. 
  • James G. March, Johan P. Olsen. 1989. The Institutional Dynamics of International Political Orders. International Organization, 52(4): 943-969. 
  • Alexander Wendt. 1992. Anarchy is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics. International Organization, 46 (Spring): 391-425. 
  • David Lake. 1996. Anarchy, Hierarchy and the Variety of International Relations. International Organization, 50(1): 1-33. 
  • Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink. 1998. International Norm Dynamics and Political Change. International Organization, 52(4): 887-917. 
  • Calvert Jones. Exploring the Microfoundations of International Community: Toward a Theory of Enlightened Nationalism. International Studies Quarterly, 58(4): 682-705.


Session 2, October 11

Cooperation under Anarchy              

  • Robert Jervis. 1978. Cooperation under the Security Dilemma. World Politics, 30: 167-214. 
  • Arthur Stein. 1984. The Hegemon's Dilemma: Great Britain, the United States, and the international economic order.International Organization, 38(2), 355-386. 
  • Stephan Krasner. 1991. Global Communications and National Power: Life on the Pareto Frontier. World Politics, 43(3): 336-366. 
  • Jack Levy. 1997. Prospect Theory, Rational Choice, and International Relations. International Studies Quarterly, 41(1): 87-112. 
  • Terry Moe. 2005. Power and Political Institutions. Perspectives on Politics, 3(2): 215-233. 
  • Joshua Kertzer and Brian Rathbun. 2015. Fair is Fair: social Preferences and reciprocity in international Politics.World Politics, 67(4): 613–655.


Session 3, October 18

Regimes and international institutions

 John Ruggie. 1982. International Regimes, Transactions, and Change: Embedded Liberalism in the Postwar Economic Order.International organization, 36(2), 379-415. 

  • Judith Kelley. 2004. International Actors on the Domestic Scene: Membership Conditionality and Socialization by International Institutions. International Organization, 58(3): 425-457. 
  • Alexander Thompson. 2006. Coercion through IOs: The Security Council and the Logic of Information Transmission. International Organization, 60(1): 1-34. 
  • James Vreeland. 2008. Political Institutions and Human Rights: Why Dictatorships enter into the United Nations Convention Against Torture. International Organization, 62(1): 65-101. 
  • Julia Gray. 2009. International Organization as a Seal of Approval. American Journal of Political Science, 53(4): 931-49. 


Session 4, October 25

International Organizations 

  • Michael Barnett and Martha Finnemore. 1999. The Politics, Power, and Pathologies of International Organizations. International Organization, 53: 699-732. 
  • Daniel Nielson and Michael Tierney. 2003. Delegation to International Organizations: Agency Theory and World Bank. Environmental Reform. International Organization, 57(2): 241-276. 
  • Alexandru Grigorescu. 2010. The Spread of Bureaucratic Oversight Mechanisms across Intergovernmental Organizations. International Studies Quarterly, 54: 871–886. 
  • Laurence Helfer and Erik Voeten. 2014. International Courts as Agents of Legal Change: Evidence from LGBT Rights in Europe. International Organization, 68: 77-110. 
  • Jonas Tallberg, Thomas Sommerer, Theresa Squatrito and Christer Jönsson. 2014. Explaining the Transnational Design of International Organizations. International Organization, 68: 741-774. 
  • Hyeran Jo and Beth Simmons. 2016. Can the International Criminal Court Deter Atrocity?’ International Organization, 70(3), pp. 443–475


Session 5: November 1

Inter-State Conflict 

  • James Fearon. 1995. Rationalist Explanations for War. International Organization, 49: 379-414. 
  • Brett Ashley Leeds. 2003. Do Military Alliances Deter Aggression? The Influence of Military Alliances on the Initiation of Militarized Interstate Disputes. American Journal of Political Science, 47(3): 427-39. 
  • Nadav Shelef. 2015. Unequal Ground: Homelands and Conflict. International Organization, 70(1): 33–63. 
  • Matthew Gottfried and Robert Trager. 2016. A Preference for War: How Fairness and Rhetoric Influence Leadership Incentives in Crises. International Studies Quarterly, 60(2): 243-257. 
  • Lisa Blaydes and Christopher Paik. 2016. The Impact of Holy Land Crusades on State Formation: War Mobilization, Trade Integration, and Political Development in Medieval Europe. International Organization, 70(3): 551–586. 


 Session 6:  November 8 (One Page Project Outline Turned in)

Peace and Peacebuilding

  • David Lake. 1992. Powerful Pacifists: Democratic States and War. American Political Science Review, 86(01): 24-37.
  • John O’Neal and Bruce Russett. 1999. The Kantian peace: The Pacific Benefits of Democracy, Interdependence, and International Organizations, 1885–1992. World Politics,52(1): 1-37. 
  • Michael Doyle and Nicholas Sambanis. 2000. International Peacebuilding: A Theoretical and Quantitative Analysis. American Political Science Review, 779-801. 
  • Virginia Fortna. 2003. Scraps of Paper? Agreements and the Durability of Peace. International Organization, 57(2): 337-72. 
  • Martin Binder. 2015. Paths to intervention: What explains the UN’s selective response to humanitarian crises? Journal of Peace Research, 52: 712-726. 
  • Tore Wig. 2016. Peace from the past: Pre-colonial political institutions and civil wars in Africa. Journal of Peace Research, 53: 509-524.

Session 7, November 15

Civil Wars 

  • James Fearon and David Laitin. 2003. Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War. American Political Science Review, 97(1): 75-90. 
  • Miguel, Edward, Shanker Satyanath, and Ernest Sergenti. 2004. Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: An Instrumental Variables Approach. Journal of Political Economy, 112(4): 725-753. 
  • Philip Roessler. 2011. The Enemy Within: Personal Rule, Coups, and Civil War in Africa. World Politics, 63: 300-346. 
  • Virginia Fortna. 2015. Do Terrorists Win? Rebels’ Use of Terrorism and Civil War Outcomes. International Organization, 69(3): 519–556. 
  • Benjamin Bagozzi. 2016. On Malaria and the Duration of Civil War. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 60(5): 813-839.


Session 8, November 22

Domestic and International Interactions 

  • Robert Putnam. 1988. Diplomacy and Domestic Politics. International Organization, 42(3): 427-460. 
  • Zachary Elkins and Beth Simmons. 2004. The Globalization of Liberalization: Policy Diffusion in the International Political Economy. American Political Science Review, 98: 171-190. 
  • Brian Greenhill, Layna Mosley, and Aseem Prakash. 2009. Trade and Labor Rights: A Panel Study, 1986‐ American Political Science Review. 103(4): 669‐690. 
  • Susan D. Hyde and Nikolay Marinov. 2014. Information and Self-Enforcing Democracy: The Role of International Election Observation. International Organization, 68: 329-359. 
  • Simone Dietrich. 2015. Donor Political Economies and the Pursuit of Aid Effectiveness. International Organization, 70(1): 65–102. 


Session 9: November 29

Non-State Actors  

  • Alexander Cooley and James Ron. 2002. The NGO Scramble: Organizational Insecurity and the Political Economy of Transnational Action. International Security, 27: 5–39. 
  • Moonhawk Kim, Amy Liu, Kim-Lee Tuxhorn, David S. Brown and David Leblang.  Lingua Mercatoria: Language and Foreign Direct Investment. International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming. 
  • Bradford Jensen, Dennis Quinn. and Stephen Weymouth. 2015. The Influence of Firm Global Supply Chains and Foreign Currency Undervaluations on US Trade Disputes, International Organization, 69(4), pp. 913–947. 
  • Abel Escribà-Folch, Covadonga Meseguer, Joseph Wright. 2015. Remittances and Democratization. International Studies Quarterly, 59 (3): 571-586. 


Session 10, December 6 (Research Proposal Turned in)

Environmental Challenges and Human Rights 

  • Hunjoon Kim and Kathryn Sikkink. 2010. Explaining the Deterrence Effect of Human Rights Prosecutions for Transitional Countries. International Studies Quarterly, 54: 939–963. 
  • Amanda Murdie and David Davis. 2012. Shaming and Blaming: Using Events Data to Assess the Impact of Human Rights INGOs. International Studies Quarterly, 56(1): 1-16. 
  • Rachel Aichele and Gabriel Felbermayr. 2013. The Effect of the Kyoto Protocol on Carbon Emissions. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 32(4): 731–757. 
  • Aseem Prakash and Matthew Potoski. 2014. Global Private Regimes, Domestic Public Law: ISO 14001 and Pollution Reduction. Comparative Political Studies, 47(3): 369 – 394. 
  • Peksen Dursun,Timothy Peterson and  Cooper Drury. 2014. Media-driven Humanitarianism? News Media Coverage of Human Rights Abuses and the Use of Economic Sanctions. International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming. 
  • Eilstrup-Sangiovanni Mette and Teale Phelps Bondaroff. 2014. From Advocacy to Confrontation: Direct Enforcement by Environmental NGOs. International Studies Quarterly, 58(2): 348-361.


Catalog Description: 
Key theories, concepts, and debates in the study of world politics and international relations. Provides an overview of the field and prepares students for the IR comprehensive exam.
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:36pm