POL S 203 A: Introduction to International Relations

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
to be arranged
* *

Syllabus Description:



Political Science 203



Summer 2020

Instructor: Rafeel Wasif

Lecture Posted on Canvas

3:00 pm (Weekdays)                                                                                                     

Office Hours: By Appointment

email: rafeel@uw.edu



This course introduces students to the major theoretical approaches to International Relations—Realism, Liberalism, Marxism and Constructivism—and uses these approaches to address a variety of issues. For example, we will discuss the Cold War, the Gulf and Iraq Wars, War on Terrorism, genocide in Rwanda, free trade, globalization, North-South relations, the environment, NGOs, and COVID-19. The primary aims of the course are to demonstrate how these theories influence our understanding of world events, and to make students better consumers of news stories.


Required Texts

All readings will be posted on canvas.

*Daily Reading of Newspapers is highly recommended.





Class discussion will be graded based on:

Response papers (20%)

Documentary response papers (10 %)

Midterm (30%)

Final Exam (40%). 



Class Format

Every weekday (3 pm), a new lecture will be posted, except Friday where the students will be given a documentary to analyze according to the class readings in lieu of class time.. Class assignments will be based on the lectures and the readings. They will be posted after class and will need to be submitted within 48 hours in lieu of class participation.



Religious Accommodation

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy (https://registrar.washington.edu/staffandfaculty/religious-accommodations-policy/). Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (https://registrar.washington.edu/students/religious-accommodations-request/).


Class Schedule


Week 1


6/22 What is International Relations?

Snyder, J. (2004). One World, Rival Theories. Foreign Policy, (145), 53-62.

Recording: https://washington.zoom.us/rec/share/2pdNEerWz3lLZdb_2HrvRJIHPKHPT6a813R...


6/23  Realism Part I

Gilpin, Robert. (1988). The theory of hegemonic war. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 18(4), 591.


6/24  Realism Part II

Editorial Board. (2018). The unlearned lessons of Jamal Khashoggi's murder. Washingtonpost.com, p. Washingtonpost.com, Dec 24, 2018.

Mearsheimer, J. J. (2014). Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault: The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin. Foreign Affairs, 93(5), 77–89. JSTOR.


Assignment 1 Posted


6/25  Liberalism Part I

Doyle, M. W. (1986). Liberalism and World Politics. The American Political Science Review, 80(4), 1151–1169. JSTOR. https://doi.org/10.2307/1960861


6/26 Documentary



Week 2


6/29 Liberalism Part II

Owen, J. M. (2005). Iraq and the Democratic Peace: Who Says Democracies Don’t Fight? Foreign Affairs, 84(6), 122–127. JSTOR. https://doi.org/10.2307/20031781

McFaul, M. A. (2014, March 23). Opinion | Confronting Putin’s Russia. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/24/opinion/confronting-putins-russia.html


Assignment 2 Posted


6/30  Constructivism I

Jung, H. (2019). The Evolution of Social Constructivism in Political Science: Past to Present. SAGE Open, 9(1), 2158244019832703. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244019832703


7/1 Constructivism II  

Carranza, M. (2019). The stability of the nuclear nonproliferation norm: a critique of norm-contestation theory. The Nonproliferation Review, 26(1–2), 7–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/10736700.2019.1587844


7/2 Midterm


7/3 Holiday






Week 3

7/6 Marxism Part I

Menand, L. (2016, October 3). Karl Marx, Yesterday and Today. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/10/karl-marx-yesterday-and-today



7/7 Marxism Part II

Astore, W. (2019, April 30). The Pentagon’s Long Con. https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/tom-dispatch-military-industrial-complex-pentagon-long-con/


Assignment 3 Posted


7/8 Trade

Goodman, P. S. (2016, September 28). More Wealth, More Jobs, but Not for Everyone: What Fuels the Backlash on Trade. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/29/business/economy/more-wealth-more-jobs-but-not-for-everyone-what-fuels-the-backlash-on-trade.html

Silverstein, K. (2010, January 1). Shopping for Sweat. Harper’s Magazine. https://harpers.org/archive/2010/01/shopping-for-sweat/


7/9 Foreign Aid

Sachs, J. (1999). Helping the world’s poorest. The Economist (US), 352(8132), 16–17, 21–22.

Bhagwati, J. (2010). Banned Aid: Why International Assistance Does Not Alleviate Poverty. Foreign Affairs, 89(1), 120–125. JSTOR.


Assignment 4 Posted


7/10 Documentary


Week 4

7/13 Civil Society

Keck, M. E., & Sikkink, K. (1999). Transnational advocacy networks in international and regional politics. International Social Science Journal, 51(159), 89–101. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2451.00179


7/14 NGOs

Aseem Prakash, Kendra Dupuy, & James Ron. (2012). Foreign aid to local NGOs: good intentions, bad policy. OpenDemocracy. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/foreign-aid-to-local-ngos-good-intentions-bad-policy/


Assignment 5 Posted


7/15. Identities: Conflict and Cooperation

Interview with Huntington, “A head-on collision of alien cultures?” NYT (10/20/2001).


Thursday 7/16 International Terrorism

Troy, J. (2020). The containment of the Islamic State: A realist case to engage a hybrid actor. Contemporary Security Policy, 41(3), 385–406. https://doi.org/10.1080/13523260.2019.1641345


Assignment 6 Posted


Friday 7/17 Documentary



Week 5


Monday 7/20 Climate Politics

Schwartz, B. (2009). Tyranny for the Commons Man. The National Interest, 102, 64–73. JSTOR.


7/21  COVID-19 and International Relations

Garrett, L. (2020, June 4). The Challenge of Global Health. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2007-01-01/challenge-global-health

Tre Hester. (2020.). Conflict, Competition, and COVID-19 with Michael Horowitz (No. 24). Retrieved June 19, 2020, from https://global.upenn.edu/perryworldhouse/news/conflict-competition-and-covid-19-michael-horowitz


7/22 Final Exam

Catalog Description: 
The world community, its politics, and government. Offered: AWSpS.
Department Requirements: 
Introductory Courses
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
April 23, 2020 - 11:50pm