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PSC 209: World Politics TimeTable

By Prof. Jeremy Lewis, revised 28 July 2015, with new dates, Great Decisions topics & questions.

Discussion Notes | CIA World Factbook | Country Briefings from Economist | Great Decisions media episodes

No classes, Fall 2015: M 7 Sep, F 18 & 25 Sep, F 9, 16 & 30 Oct, F 14 Nov, 23-27 Nov.

Week: [01] [02] [03] [dinner party] [04] [Test1] [05] [06] [07] [Test2] [08] [09] [10] [Test3] [11] [12] [13] [Honors Project] [14] [Final]

Week, Author, Chapter: Topic [and Reporters]
Week 1
Introduction to the course [Lectures] [Discussion notes]
Honors section, and volunteers: Presentations and discussion of Great Decisions 2015, Issue 1: Oxana Shevel, "Russia and the Near Abroad" [Reporters]
- What was the significance of the "Euromaidan" social movement?
- Why do many Russians not see Ukraine as a sovereign state?
- Should the US and EU resist Russian interference in Ukraine?

Rourke & Boyer, Brief edition, 1: Thinking & Caring about World Politics
- How can one approach the study of world politics?  [Discussion notes]
- How can we distinguish 3 perspectives: descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive?
- What actors are there on the world stage?
- How do realist and idealist schools of thought differ about world politics?
- How do these schools differ in reacting to the balance of power?
- Can we identify newer forms of the liberal and realist schools of thought?
- Can we apply these theories to current affairs?
- How do the 3 research methods differ in IR: logic; historical observation; and quantitative analysis?
- How do the 3 levels of analysis differ in IR: system level; state level; and individual level?

Week 2
Rourke & Boyer, Brief edition, 2: The Evolution of World Politics [Discussion notes] [outline needed]
- How has global politics developed over the centuries?
- What were the contributions to political development of the Ancient Greeks?
- How did political participation become a part of the polis?
- How did the Athenian Empire develop and how did it clash with another empire?
- What institutions did the Romans create and how did they build an Empire?
- How did the mediaeval church develop in parallel to political structures?
- How did the reformation challenge the existing authority?
- What did the Treaty of Westphalia accomplish?
- How did international political structures develop in the twentieth century?
- How are they developing in the C21st?
- Do we face a world that is unipolar, bipolar, multipolar ... or what?
- Will nation states remain universal or will something replace them?  A caliphate? A supra-national organization?
- Are nations interdependent?
- Will disparities of income keep growing?
- WIll human rights and the environment replace material issues?

Honors section: Presentations and discussion of FPA, Great Decisions 2015, Issue 2: Nuala O'Connor, "Privacy in the Digital Age" [Reporters]
- How and why has the harm from privacy intrusions become a global issue?
- How have the tables turned on privacy in the US since the time of the Founding?
- To what degree has international legislation kept pace with surveillance technology?
- Is privacy now, essentially, dead?

US Constitution, Article I (excerpts on foreign relations) [Reporter]
- Compare the enumerated & inherent Congressional authority in foreign affairs.
- What would happen if the Congress disagreed with the President's use of force abroad?

Week 3
Rourke & Boyer, Brief, 3: Levels of Analysis [Dr. Lewis]
- Which of these approaches to studying the world is more effective?
- What ways might be found to prevent war in the long run?
- How many poles are there in today's world order?
- Is the US a hegemon -- or merely one power among many?
- Is China a superpower -- or merely a regional power?
- Is the EU a pole in the system -- or merely a collection of nation states that are at best regional powers?
- Do we usually place too much emphasis on the actions of states, and not enough on understanding the nature of the system or of mankind?
- Do non-governmental organizations make any difference in international politics?
- Does it make any difference to the conduct of a state, who is in charge?
Check for AL World Affairs Council (AWAC) speaker event

Honors section, and volunteers: Presentations and discussion of
US Constitution, Article II (excerpts on foreign relations) [Reporter]
Provisions of the Constitution relating to foreign policymaking | Lecture notes
- How powerful was the C-in-C position in 1787 -- and how powerful today?
- How is the appointment power allocated?
- How is the treaty making power allocated?
- Which major wars of the US were led by Presidents, and which by Congress?

War Powers Resolution, 1973 (50 USC 1541-1548) | Wikipedia entry | Lecture
- Does the President have authority under the Constitution to use force abroad, without authority from Congress?
- Can the President be required to notify Congress of the use of force abroad?
- Can the Congress restrain the presidential use of force abroad, once begun?

Dr. and Mrs. Lewis invite current and former students, with friends, to their home for an annual candle-lit dinner and outdoor games, 3-6 pm on Sunday; see Dates page for any changes, and check email for driving directions.
High resolution images found here | Low resolution images here
Week 4
Rourke & Boyer, Brief, 4: Nationalism: The Traditional Orientation [Reporter]
- Is the behavior of nation states the main cause of war and of peace?
- Do nationalism and nation-states define and divide the world?
- What is a nation?
- What is a Nation-state?
- What is nationalism?
- How have ideas of nationalism evolved over five centuries?
- After WW2, did nation-states decline or increase?
- What are the benefits of nationalism?
- What are the costs of nationalism?
- Can nationalism be blamed for wars -- including two world wars?
- What happens when nations and states are not coterminous?

Map of ethnic groups of the Caucasus | map of Kurdistan
- Is nationalism outmoded?
- Should regional or ethic populations be able to self-determine when to become a new, independent state?
- What is the future of nationalism?
See Dates page for Test 1,which may include both multiple choice and written questions on all materials listed above this line, unless otherwise noted (bring Scantron card, pencil and dark ballpoint pen).

Week 5
Honors section, and volunteers: Presentations and discussion of
US Constitution, Article III (excerpts)[Reporters]
(The Treason clause, which obviously impinges upon US foreign policy).
- What did the Founders intend with the Treason clause; why did they restrict its language?
- Search for information about these alleged, modern traitors, and ask yourself whether they meet the constitutional criteria: John Walker Lindh (the so-called "American Taliban"), and Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden (both of WikiLeaks notoriety).
- What reasons could be given by the prosecution and by the defence, about the use of the charge of "treason"?

Rourke & Boyer, Brief, 5: Globalization: The Alternative Orientation
- Can a new world order be achieved via global and transnational organizations?
- What causes globalization?
- What types of globalization are there?
- What are the benefits and costs of globalization?
- Does every state win from globalization -- or are there losers as well as winners?

Tests returned and exemplary paragraphs presented by students. (During this, nobody takes notes or records discussion).

Rourke & Boyer, 6: Power, Statecraft & National States: The Traditional Structure
- How do national and international organizations actually function -- and how do they contrast?

Children of the Taliban, Frontline World documentary film, PBS, 2009

Honors section, and volunteers: Presentations and discussion of Great Decisions 2015, issue 3: Lawrence G. Potter, "Sectarianism in the Middle East" [Reporters]
- How can we define sectarianism in order to understand it?
- What drives the division between Sunni and Shia Muslims, and across which countries?
- To what degree is sectarianism political rather than religious?
- What can the US do about sectarianism in the middle East?

Rourke & Boyer, Brief, 7: Intergovernmental Organizations: Alternative Governance  [Reporter]
- How did IGOs develop?
- What roles do IGOs play?
- How can international organizations establish cooperation, consensus and policing?
- How is the UN organized, and what does it promote?
- How is the EU organized?
- How does the EU operate?
- What is the Future of the EU?

See Dates page for Test 2, which may include both multiple choice and written questions on all materials listed above this line, unless otherwise noted.

Week 8
Rourke & Boyer, Brief 8: International Law & Human Rights
[Notes of Rourke, Full edition, 9: International Law & Justice: an alternative]
- What are, or should be, the rules of behavior among nation states?
- Can treaties and common law bind nation states into civilized behavior?
- How do power and diplomacy reinforce -- or contradict -- each other?
- Can international law ever replace a balance of power in constraining nation states?

Tests returned and exemplary paragraphs presented by students. (During this, nobody takes notes or records discussion).

Honors section, and volunteers: Presentations and discussion of Great Decisions 2015, Issue 4: Barbara Crossette, "India Changes Course" [Reporters]
- Why did Indian voters send the BJP to power?
- What challenges and opportunities does the BJP government present for the US?
- How best can the US treat with India in order to secure its national interests?

Week 9
Rourke & Boyer, Brief, 9: Pursuing Security
Notes of Rourke, Full edition 10: National Security: The Traditional Road
Notes of Rourke, Full edition, 11: International Security: The Alternative
- What are the causes of war, from the perspectives of the system, the state and the individual?
- What kinds of conflict are becoming more prevalent?
- What kinds of force can be utilized in modern conflicts?
- What are the differences between conventional war; unconventional war; war using WMD; and terrorism?
- What is the difference between MAD and NUT?
- How can security be achieved by states pursuing defense and alliances?
- Can cooperative action among states produce a world peace?
- What is the trend in UN peace keeping operations?
- Is it better to use LDC troops to keep the peace in LDC conflicts?
- Do arms control agreeements make the world safer - or less safe?
- Can collective security transcend peace keeping to actual peace enforcement?
- Is there any way to abolish war? Does pacificism have a chance?

Honors section, and volunteers: Presentations and discussion of Great Decisions 2015, Issue 4: Barbara Crossette, "India Changes Course" [Reporters]
- Why did Indian voters send the BJP to power?
- What challenges and opportunities does the BJP government present for the US?
- How best can the US treat with India in order to secure its national interests?

Honors section, and volunteers: developing projects and presentations

Week 10
Rourke & Boyer, Brief 10/Notes of Full edition, 12: National Economic Competition: Traditional Road
- With the decline in the cost of transport and communications, can global trade transform relations among states?
- To what degree are international economcs and politics intertwined?
- What are the criticisms of international trade and globalization from Marxists and from nationalists?
- What is the justification for the US transferring billions of dollars in economic aid to the bankrupted European powers after the second world war? [Marshall Plan]
The Economist newspaper's Big Mac Index, 2012 (to Purchasing Power Parity)
- Where is the cheapest state in which to buy something -- and can we predict exchange rates?
- How can we measure the standard international cost of a good or service?
- Is it better to buy presents here before travelling abroad - or to wait till arrival abroad?

See Dates page for Test 3,which may include both multiple choice and written questions on all materials above this line.

Honors students (and those taking research project option): tutorial in office, on research projects.

Non-Honors students may volunteer to present:
Great Decisions 2015, Issue 5: Adekeye Adebajo, "U.S. Policy Toward Africa"
- How is Africa transforming its economies and polities?
- Why are foreign investors approaching Africa?
- What difference did the Obama factor make, in reality?
- How can the US live up to its declared values in its relationship throughout the region?

Frontline: Revolution in Cairo, PBS documentary film, 2011.
Shown partly in class time, and you should stream the rest online.
- Will the large numbers of youth in Arab countries, using the internet, be able to bring down authoritarian regimes?
- Can the authorities succeed in repressing revolts through beatings, torture and surveillance?
- Can the authorities shut down the protests but cutting the Internet?
- Should the US support the dictators or the pro-democracy protesters?
- If the US does help overthrow dictators who have been US clients - what message does that send to other client regimes?
- Did President Obama respond differently than any other US President would have - or just the same?
- after this film was made, how did the democracy work? (Follow up with searching on the Internet).
- Did the youth movement or the Muslim Brotherhood come to power?
- Did the army allow democracy to proceed without intervention?
- What befell Mona, the outspoken woman journalist in the film, who was also making regular appearances on CNN?

See also CIA World Factbook on Egypt

Week 11
Rourke & Boyer, Brief 11/Notes of Full edition 13: International Economic Cooperation: Alternative Road
Maria Shriver, One Minute to Midnight: The Cuban MIssile Crisis (film, continued)
PBS, The Marshall Plan, documentary film
Further readings TBA

Tests returned and exemplary paragraphs presented by students. (During this, nobody takes notes or records discussion).

Search Exercise on gasoline price:
Search for the current price of a litre of petrol (gasoline) for a car in England. [e.g., in summer 2013 it was about £1.88 /litre; in October 2013 only £1.37].
Step 1: find this online, e.g. at (global prices)  or (which compares UK to Eurozone)
Step 2: Multiply this by 4 to get the price per US gallon (because 4 litres make a US gallon)
Step 3: Find an exchange rate calculator (e.g. at
Step 4: Multiply the result of step 2 by the $/Pound exchange rate (currently $1.59) to get the current UK petrol price per US gallon.
- At about $6-7 per US gallon, between winter and summer, what effects does that have on the economy?
Step 5: Now do the same for a litre of essence/benzene (gasoline) in the Eurozone, multiply the €/litre price by 4 and then convert by the Dollar/Euro exchange rate today (e.g. $1.34 on 11 Nov. 2013) to give the European price of gas at the pump.
Global graph of the Euro cost of a litre of unleaded gasoline in many countries
- Where is the USA found in gasoline cost rankings, according to its official figures for last month?
- Where are the Europeans found in the rankings?
- Why do Europeans drive smaller engined cars, and for shorter distances than Americans?
- Why do they often take public transport?
- Why do they often drive cars on diesel instead of gasoline?

Honors section, and volunteers: Presentations and discussion of Great Decisions 2015, issue 6: Rochelle Davis, "Syria's Refugee Crisis" [Reporters]
- What has been the historical Syrian policy toward an inflow of refugees?
- Why are Syrians now fleeing to other countries as refugees?
- How could international coooperation alleviate the condition of Syrian refugees?
- Is international assistance to large numbers of Syrian refugees politically feasible?

Advising week. How to pick courses for spring pre-registration: two for major field, two for core, one elective (and you will be able to graduate on time; transfer students may need to modify this).

Week 12, Pre-registration week

Rourke, Notes of Full edition 14: Preserving & Enhancing Human Rights
Rourke & Boyer, Brief, 12 /Notes of Full edition 15: Preserving & Enhancing the Biosphere
- Is economic competition or cooperation the key to development?
- Without a world government, how can human rights be upheld?
- Can we create a global civil society in the absence of a world government?

Interactive lecture/discussion session on Boyer Ch.12, Preserving & Enhancing the Biosphere
- What tensions emerged between EDCs and LDCs on environmental regulation that emerged from the first 2 global environmental conferences (Earth summits)?
- What perspective might a developing country's head of state have on our demand that all countries reduce their rate of burning carbon?
- What alternatives are there to cut the growth of pollution, besides forbidding the burning of dirty, fossil fuels such as coal?
- What are the differences between a carbon tax and pollution credit exchanges?
- How has the US reacted historically to tax increases?
- How does business lobbying affect the chances of introducing measures that increases energy costs to businesses?

Notes of speeches by Dr. William Moomaw, "Energy, National Security & Climate Change". Professor of International Environmental Policy, Tufts University, and, since 1992, lead author on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Notes of Illustrated lecture to our class and to AWAC, April 6, 2010. Moomaw is a Montgomery native who will return in Spring 2015 to speak to AWAC.
- How did the IPCC argue for the existence of global climate change?
- How have the data from more recent scientific observations upheld - or falsified - the IPCC's reports?

See Dates page and AWAC home page for international speaker event

Honors section, and volunteers: Presentations and discussion of Great Decisions 2015, Issue 7: Joseph Chamie, "Human Trafficking in the 21st Century" [Reporters]
- What is the global scale of human trafficking?
- In what sense does the US bear responsibility for tackling human trafficking?
- What international laws can be applied to controlling human trafficking?

Honors section, and volunteers: developing projects and presentations

Week 13
Documentary films (selections may vary)
Critical thinking sessions (with PPT) about research design.
Honors section, plus any taking an upper level PSC course: for the Project, deliverable by email and by TurnItIn, see Dates page, Citations page and Project requirements page
Note that, for readability, eProjects are now delivered to <jLewis> as well as to Turnitin.

Honors section, and volunteers: Presentations and discussion of Great Decisions 2015, Issue 8: Juan de Onis, "Brazil's Metamorphosis" [Reporters]
- How has Brazil emerged as a growing market ane a developing polity?
- What global sporting events and glob al issues have raised Brazil's profile in the world?
- What weaknesses at home have held back Brazil from a more prominent role in world politics?

Great Decisions 2015, Fall Update [PDF]

PBS video, The Brothers (2011)
View in conjunction with Revolution in Cairo (also 2011)
- Are the Muslim Brotherhood a revolutionary movement - or a moderate one?
- Do the Brothers seek power generally - or as a means to the end of imposing sharia law?
- Are the Brothers compatible with liberal democracy?

PBS video, Ambush in Mogadishu [1993] Map
See also Ridley Scott's fine recreation on film, Black Hawk Down, based on the excellent book by Mark Bowden.
- What were the circumstances on the ground in Somalia in 1992?
- How did non-profit International NGOs operate in Somalia?
- What was the rationale for the US sending in forces?
- Was it realism or idealism that led the US to intervene in Somalia?
- Was the mission subject to mission creep, or was expansion rationally determined?
- Was the UN the right body for the peacekeeping mission?
- Should the UN have retaliated for the attack on peacekeepers?
- Should the UN have attempted to arrest Aideed?
- Was the snatch tactic the proper one to adopt?
- Why did the 3 Oct. 1993 raid take place, and was that compatible with the diplomatic outreach to Gen. Aideed, conducted by former Preisdent Jimmy Carter and Amb. Robert Oakley?
- Was the US right to withdraw -- or should the US have doubled down on its bet?
- Is it practical to engage in two-track intervention -- or that self-defeating?
- After the "Black Hawk Down" incident, should the US have retaliated instead of withdrawing?
- If the US had stayed in Somalia, how would the country have developed since? [Dbox]

Film, CNN, Christiane Amanpour, "The War Within," on radical Muslims in the UK
- What does the Islamic radical movement seek in the UK?
- How much popular support is there for this movement in the UK?
- Is sharia law compatible with western democracy?
- Is a radical Islamic movement necessarily violent?

Thanksgiving Break


Documentary films
Honors, and upper level students will give briefings on research: the issue; the research question; arguments; evidence; and findings.

Critical thinking sessions (with PPT examples) about audiovisual design.

Students should prepare for Maps exercise.

Film, PBS Frontline, Children of the Taliban
- Given the strategic partnership of the US and Pakistan since 9/11 -- and to some degree, since the Nixon administration, can the US ensure the stability of the Pakistani regime?
- What recruiting methods of the Taliban are shown in the film?
- How close have the Taliban come to the population centers of Pakistan?
- What changes do the Taliban enforce on population they control?
- What is the longterm prognosis for Pakistan, a nuclear capable nation state?

Kill/ Capture?  Inside the Secret Campaign to take out thousands of Taliban and Al Qaeda Fighters.  Film, PBS Frontline, 2011.
- In the war in Afghanistan, should the strategy have been expanded from Counter Terrorism (CT) to Counter Insurgency (COIN)?
- Was McCrystal's strategy of raising the tempo of Special Forces' night raids justified?
- Did the strategy create more terrorists than it killed?
- Did the strategy create space for a political solution?
- What were the effects on the civilian population?
- What were the "metrics" for success?
- Does the film succeed in being objective, despite the reporters' being embedded (with the 101st Airborne in Khost province, Eastern Afghanistan)?

 Finals week:
See Dates page for time of Comprehensive Final Exam, conducted for two hours, in usual classroom. May include Maps exercise, and as well as multiple choice and written questions on all materials above this line.
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