POL S 203 A: Introduction To International Relations

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MW 9:40am - 11:50am
RAI 107

Syllabus Description:

Updated 08/08/2016


Political Science 203                                                              Instructor: Crystal Pryor

Summer 2016                                                                          Office: Smith 24

M & W 9:40-11:50                                                                   Office hours: M & W 12:45-1:45 and by appt.

Room:  RAI 107                                                                       pryorcd@uw.edu

Course Overview

This course introduces students to major theoretical approaches to international politics and how we can use them to explain important questions in the field. What started the Cold War, and why didn’t it escalate? Are interstate relations inherently harmonious, or conflictual? Is international relations all about states, or do other actors matter too? Is free trade good for all involved? And is cooperation possible in addressing global environmental challenges?

Learning goals for this course: introduce students to important issues in international politics, demonstrate how theory informs our explanations, and help students evaluate contemporary issues in international politics.

Required Texts

Readings are available as PDFs on the course website (see Files). Students are required to read international news daily in The New York Times or an equivalent paper of record. Hard-copy subscriptions are available at the By George Newsstand under Odegaard Library and at the Husky Union Building. Digital subscriptions are also available online (half off) at:


Laptops and cell phones may NOT be used during class.


Grades are determined from three course exams (20%, 20%, 35%), participation and performance in class (15%), and short quizzes given throughout the quarter (10%). One midterm exam will be in-class, and one will be take-home.

The exam questions will come from the reading questions and lectures, and will also include some current events that we discuss in class. There will be no review sheet for the exams – if a concept or theme is explicitly covered in the lecture, found in one or more reading questions, or discussed in relation to a current event, it is fair game as an exam question.

Make-up exams are not available without instructor permission or official documentation (physician’s note).

Course Outline

Part I: The Modern State System and Levels of Analysis in International Politics

  1. The Modern State System
  2. The Levels of Analysis Problem in International Politics
  3. Explaining the Cold War: Structural Realism
  4. Explaining the Cold War: Liberalism and Domestic Politics
  5. Explaining the Cold War: Psychology and the Individual

Midterm Exam (in-class)

Part II: Post-Cold War

  1. The New World Order and the Constructivist Research Paradigm
  2. Non-State Actors and International Law
  3. Humanitarian Intervention: The Balkans and Somalia
  4. Humanitarian Intervention: Rwanda and 21st Century Implications
  5. Terrorism

Midterm Exam (take-home)

Part III: Transnational Topics

  1. The Global Political Economy: Free Trade and Globalization
  2. The Global Political Economy: North-South Relations
  3. The Environment
  4. 21st Century Issues: China

Final Exam



Part I: The Modern State System and Levels of Analysis in International Politics

06/20/2016 – Introduction to the Course; The Modern State System

Krasner, Stephen. 2009. “Think Again: Sovereignty.” Foreign Policy.

Erlanger, Steven. 2016. “Money, Jobs and Sovereignty: Myth vs. Reality Ahead of Brexit Vote.” New York Times, 6 June 2016.


06/22/2016 – The Level of Analysis Problem in International Politics; Intro to the Cold War

Singer, David. 1961. “The Level-of-Analysis Problem in International Relations.” World Politics, 14/1: 77-92

Ziegler, David. 1993. “Cold War and the Korean War.” Peace and International Politics. Harper Collins: 17-30

06/27/2016 – Explaining the Cold War: Structural Realism

Gaddis, John. 1986. “The Long Peace: Elements of Stability in the Postwar International System.” International Security, 10/4: 99-142

06/29/2016 – Explaining the Cold War: Liberalism and Domestic Politics

Doyle, Michael. “Liberalism and World Politics.” The American Political Science Review, 80/4: 1151-69. (Selected readings: 1155-63).

Truman, Harry. “Recommendation for Assistance to Greece and Turkey.” Speech to a Join Session of Congress. 12 March, 1947

NSC 68: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security. 14 April 1950. (Selected Readings: Section IV, Section V, and Section VI.)

Kennan, G [X]. 1947. “The Sources of Soviet Conduct.” Foreign Affairs, 25/4: 566-82.

07/06/2016 – Explaining the Cold War: Psychology and the Individual

Jervis, Robert. 1982. “Deterrence and Misperception.” International Security, 7/3: 3-30

Holsti, Ole. 1962. “The belief system and national images: A case study.” Journal of Conflict Resolution: 244-52

07/11/2016 – Midterm Exam (in-class)


Part II: Post-Cold War

07/13/2016 – The New World Order and the Constructivist Research Paradigm

Wendt, Alex. 1992. “Anarchy Is What States Make Of It: the Social Construction of Power Politics.” International Organization, 46/2: 391-425.

Miller, E. and Yetiv, S. 2001. “The New World Order in Theory and Practice: The Bush Administration’s Worldview in Transition.” Presidential Studies Quarterly, 31/1: 56-68

George H.W. Bush. 1991. “The Liberation of Kuwait has Begun,” (Speech of Jan 16, 1991). In The Gulf War Reader (Times Books), ed. Micah L. Sifry and Christoher Cerf

07/18/2016 – Non-State Actors and International Law

Keck, Margaret and Kathryn Sikkink. 1999. “Transnational advocacy networks in international and regional politics.” International Social Science Journal, 51/159: 89-101

Price, Richard. “Reversing the Gun Sights: Transnational Civil Society Targets Land Mines.” International Organization, 52/3: 613-44

07/20/2016 – Humanitarian Intervention 1: Yugoslavia and Somalia

Stoessinger, John. 2001. “From Sarajevo to Kosovo.” Why Nations Go To War. St Martins: 217-50.

Clarke, Walter and Jeffrey Herbst. 1996. “Somalia and the Future of Humanitarian Intervention.” Foreign Affairs. 75/2: 70-85

07/25/2016 – Humanitarian Intervention 2: Rwanda, and 21st Century Implications

In Class: The Triumph of Evil. PBS Frontline Documentary

Power, Samantha. 2001. “Bystanders to Genocide: Why the United States Let the Rwandan Tragedy Happen.” The Atlantic, 288/2: 84-108

United Nations World Summit. 2005. “Responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.” A/RES/60/1, para. 138-140.


Landler, Mark. 2011. “Obama’s Choice: To Intervene or Not in Libya.” New York Times. 5 March, 2011.


Pecanha, Sergio, Sarah Almughtar, and K.K. Rebecca Lai. 2015. “Untangling the Overlapping Conflicts in the Syrian War.” New York Times. 18 Oct. 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/10/16/world/middleeast/untangling-the-overlapping-conflicts-in-the-syrian-war.html?_r=2

08/01/2016 – Terrorism

Pape, Robert. 2003. “The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism.” American Political Science Review. 97/3: 343-361

Huntington, Samuel. 1993. “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs.  72/3: 22-49.

(Take-Home Midterm Due)

Part III: Transnational Topics

08/03/2016 – Global Political Economy 1: Free Trade and Globalization

Gilpin, Robert. 1975. “The Nature of Political Economy.” U.S. Power and the Multinational Corporation. Basic Books: 269-85.

Cassidy, J. 2004. “Winners and Losers: The Truth About Free Trade.” The New Yorker. August 2004 Issue: 26-30

Drezner, Daniel. 2004. “The Outsourcing Bogeyman.” Foreign Affairs, 83/3: 22-34

World Trade Organization, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. https://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/gatt47_01_e.htm

(Selected Readings: Articles I, II, III, XI, XIII, XIV, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXXVII)

08/08/2016 – Global Political Economy 2: North-South Relations

Kristof, N. and Wudunn, S. 2009. “The Women’s Crusade.” New York Times Magazine. August 23, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/magazine/23Women-t.html

Kristof, N. 2009. “Where Sweatshops Are a Dream.” The New York Times. January 15, 2009.


Krugman, Paul. 2013. “Op-Ed: Safer Sweatshops.” New York Times. 8 Jul 2013. http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/08/safer-sweatshops/

Hochschild, A. 2010. “Blood and Treasure: Why one of the world’s richest countries is also one of its poorest.” Mother Jones, March-April 2010 Issue.

08/10/2016 – Environmental Politics

Soroos, M. 1995. “Tragedy of the Commons in Global Perspective.” The Global Agenda: Issues and Perspectives. 4th Ed. McGraw-Hill: 422-435

Schwartz, Barry. 2009. “Tyranny for the Commons Man.” The National Interest. July/August ’09.

08/15/2016 – Challenges in the 21st Century: China (read before class on Aug. 15)

Mearsheimer, John. 2006. “China’s Unpeaceful Rise.” Current History.

Ikenson, Dan. 2013. “Soured U.S.-China Relationship Approaches Inflection Point.” Forbes Jan 29, 2013.


Himmelman, Jeff. “The Game of Shark and Minnow.” New York Times, 27 October 2013.


08/17/2016 – FINAL EXAM @ Polisci Computer lab (Smith 220)

Catalog Description: 
The world community, its politics, and government. Offered: AWSpS.
Department Requirements: 
Introductory Courses
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:36pm