Overview of course:
As the world moves into the 21st century, it is undergoing enormous political, economic
and social changes. Increased interdependence in the global economy, unprecedented advances in
the speed and scope of communication, increasing awareness that environmental pollutants of air,
soil and water do not recognize the limits imposed by national borders and boundaries, and the
expanded range of weapons of mass destruction, all mean that it is not possible to
insulate ourselves from these dramatic changes, or to ignore them.
This course will examine these changes as they relate to the field of International Relations and
world politics. We will explore contemporary problems in the world today from the perspectives
of rival theories of IR. Among the issues we will focus upon are the globalization of the world
economy and the media; causes and prevention of armed conflict; nationalism and ethnicity; and
various aspects of human security including population growth, migration, and environment .
We will also examine the role of perception, media and information technology in
shaping both foreign policy decision-making by states and public opinion. Internet resources,
videos and feature films will be among the tools used to research what we can know about major
issues in world politics.
The primary objective of the course is for you utilize some of the perspectives of International
Relations to analyze and understand the challenges confronting various areas of the world today.
A second objective is for you to learn to constructively utilize a variety of information
resources, including newspapers and magazines, audio-visual media and the internet/ World Wide
Web, to acquire information, and to critically examine not only the utility but the reliability of these
sources. Viewpoint, perspective or and/or bias characterize even "objective" sources of
information. We will learn how to identify these and recognize their value as well as their
Attendance:Students are expected to attend all class sessions. It is assumed that
your decision to register for this particular course took into consideration its compatibility with
your work schedule and calendar of personal commitments. Missing more than three classes will
significantly affect your grade, regardless of your academic performance. Students who miss two
classes or less during the course of the semester, and who have a B or better average with which
they are satisfied, will be exempt from taking the Final Exam. Emergencies do happen, and
therefore it is highly recommended that you avoid gratuitously "cutting class" in order to conserve
your maximum permitted absences for possible bona fide emergencies. Please try to arrive on
time, and plan to stay for the entire session. Attendance may be taken at any time during class.
Since I am teaching two sections of this course, one at midday and the other in the evening, it may
be possible for you to occasionally attend the alternate session of your class if necessary.
Electronic Research and Communication: This course will require some use of the
Internet for communication and research. If you do not have a home computer, you may access
the Internet from the computers in the FIU library. As an FIU student you are entitled to your own
e-mail account at no charge. I will use e-mail communication to bring to your attention items of
interest in the news; clarifications of assignments; emergency alterations in schedule; and any other
information I would like to convey between classes. Please check your e-mail regularly. I cannot
be responsible for messages that do not reach you because I do not have your correct e-mail
address (or any at all), or because you did not access your e-mail account. I also encourage you
to contact me by e-mail if you need any clarification about assignments or if you would like to
make an appointment to see me during my regular office hours or other mutually convenient time.
Preparation and Participation: Students must complete all assigned
readings in the course syllabus, as well as any articles on the class web
pagee-mailed by the instructor, and are expected to come to class prepared
to verbally summarize and discuss them. Occasional quizzes may be utilized
to assess whether the assigned reading is being done. These may or may not
be announced in advance.
Students are also encouraged to follow current international events
through the reading of at least one major national newspaper (e.g. New York Times,
Washington Post, Los Angeles Times), and preferably a few international
newspapers as well. You will find Internet links to these and many other national and international
news sources and resources on my web page: http://mcohen02.tripod.com .
Midterm and Final Exams:Any material found in the assigned readings,
covered in class discussions, and presented in videos may be included in the midterm and final
Projects: Two projects will each account for 20% of your course grade. Detailed
instructions are attached. Please read the objectives and instructions carefully and
follow them. If there is anything about either of these projects that you do not
understand, please ask for clarification or assistance. Project I is due on February 26--
give yourself until the beginning of February to become acquainted with the historical
background with which the project will deal. Project II is a semester length assignment
which should be commenced as soon as possible, although it is due on April 9. Your projects
Your projects are opportunities for you to personalize the course according to your own
Required Reading: One textbook is required for this course: World
Politics in a New Era, Second Edition by Steven L. Spiegel and Fred L. Wehling, Harcourt
Brace Publishers, 1999, ISBN: 0-15-505625-5. One copy is on reserve in the library.
In addition, some additional readings are required which are available
via the Internet.
Your grade for this course will be based upon:
Preparation and participation - 30%. Includes attendance and quizzes.
Midterm Exam: 15%
Final Exam: 15% (If you are exempt from taking the final exam,
each of the above will count for an additional 5%.)
Class Schedule and Reading Assignments:
Mon. Jan. 8 - Introduction and overview of course
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 1, pp. 3-25.
Wed. Jan. 10 - Twenty-first Century World Politics
Mon., Jan. 15 - Martin Luther King Day, no class
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 2, pp. 26-79.
Wed. Jan. 17 - The Origins of the Modern International System
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 3, pp. 81-106.
Mon. Jan. 22 - World War I
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 3, pp. 106-131.
Wed. Jan. 24 - World War II
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 4, pp. 133-185.
Mon. Jan. 29 - The Cold War
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 5, 187-209.
Wed. Jan. 31 - Globalization and Regional Conflict
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 5, pp. 209-222.
Wed. Feb. 7 - The Middle East
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 5, pp. 222-244.
Mon. Feb. 12 - South and West Asia
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 6, 245-289.
Wed. Feb. 14 -Wealth and Power in World Politics
Study for Midterm
Mon. Feb. 19 - Midterm Exam
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 7, 291-327.
Wed. Feb. 21-The Global Economy
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 8, 329-372.
Mon. Feb. 26 - Theories of Development. Project I due.
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 9, 375-393.
Wed. Feb. 28 -International Law
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 9, 393-427.
Mon. Mar. 5-International Organizations
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 10, 429-444.
"The Politics of Human Numbers: the World after the Cold War"
"Population: Delusion and Reality"
Wed. Mar. 7 - Population, Food and Migration
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 10, 445-451.
"The Rise and Fall of the Global Climate Coalition"
Mon. Mar. 12 -Environment
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 10, 451-454.
"Poverty Threatens Medical Advances"
"Rich-Poor Gap blamed for Health Problems"
Wed. Mar. 14 - Global Health Issues.
Spring Break Mar. 19-23 . No Class.
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 10, 454-474
Mon. Mar. 26-Drugs and Terrorism
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 10, 474-485.
Wed. Mar. 28- Energy and Natural Resources
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 11, 487-537.
Mon. April 5 - What is National Security?
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 12, 541-559.
Wed. Apr. 7-Systemic Theories of International Relations
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 12, 560-577.
Mon. Apr. 9 - Domestic Approaches to International Relations. Project II due.
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 12, 577-599.
Wed. April 11 - Individual Decisionmaking
Read for next session: Spiegel and Wehling, Chapter 13, 601-620.
Mon. April 16 - The Future of International Politics. Course
retrospective/Final Exam review.
Wed. April 18 - Final exam.
Project I -War and Conflict in Popular Culture
Overview: This project requires you to watch and analyze a movie or
video whose setting is a 20th century war or conflict, and to analyze its content and context.
Objective: Understanding how popular culture appropriates and shapes our perceptions
about war in general, and specific past and present conflicts in various parts of the world.
Length:4-6 typewritten pages
Date due: February 26
1. Watch a movie or video in which the momentum of the action is
related to a war or conflict in the 20th century. The film may be classic or current. Attached
is a list of suggestions. You do not have restrict yourself to movies listed on it, but if you
decide to use a title not on the list, advance instructor approval is strongly recommended. If you
are looking for a film which deals with a specific place or event, please feel free to ask me for
2. Briefly summarize the plot and describe the characters, with emphasis on how they
relate to the subject or background of the film (e.g., impending or ongoing war,
revolution or resistance to occupation; nationalism or quest for national independence;
ethnic or racial conflict). Who or what do various characters (minor as well as
major) "represent" beyond their own personalities? Whose "side" is the film on?
3. Now you must do some research about the conflict and the historical context in
which your film took place. This research will probably constitute most of your paper. You
can, and should, bring in characters of scenes from your film or novel to illustrate the
major points of your research when relevant. Some possible points for discussion in
your paper may include: Is your film based, largely or loosely, on an actual person, event
or problem? You should be able to assess and comment on the degree of historical
accuracy or plausibility of the plot of your film. (Films have a tendency to sacrifice
plausibility for emotional or sensational effect). Does this film have a "message"? If so, what do
you think it is? What contribution, if any, do you feel this film or novel makes to an understanding
of history or of a world problem today? What "warnings" might you offer someone who wanted to
view this film as a lesson in history or current events?
4. For a really first-rate (A) paper, you will also do some "digging"
and find out something about how, when, where, and why this film was made and by/about whom:
How or why was author, producer or director drawn to this theme? Are there any interesting
anecdotes connected to the writing or production of this work? In what historical or political
context was the film or novel written or released? What purpose(s) might it have been intended to
serve beyond pure entertainment? Were there any problems in its production or distribution?
Is/was it regarded as "controversial," and, if so, where, when and why? Was/is it banned
anywhere? What were the international responses to this film?
All Quiet on the Western Front
Ashes and Diamonds
Au Revoir les Enfants
Battle of Algiers
Before the Rain
Born on the Fourth of July
Bridge on the River Kwai
Casualties of War
Closely Watched Trains
Come See the Paradise
Courage Under Fire
Day that Shook the World
Fat Man and Little Boy
Fires on the Plain
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Good Morning, Vietnam
Hearts and Minds
Judgment at Nuremburg
Lawrence of Arabia
Life is Beautiful
Marriage of Maria Braun
Night of the Shooting Stars
Paths of Glory
Saigon: Year of the Cat
Saving Private Ryan
Seven Days in May
State of Siege
Tora! Tora! Tora!
Triumph of the Will
Twelve O'Clock High
Twilight's Last Gleaming
Watch on the Rhine
Wedding in Galilee
Welcome to Sarajevo
Year of Living Dangerously
Evaluation: Project I, which accounts for 20% of your semester grade, will be
evaluated according to:
ˇThe general sense of familiarity you convey in your essay about the
historical setting in which your film takes place.
ˇThe structure and organization of your paper
ˇYour documentation (citations of where you got your information)
ˇYour observations about how International Relations (particularly war and
conflict) are portrayed in the popular media, and how the media shapes
our perceptions of war and conflict.
Project II - Newswatch: Country of your Choice
Overview: This project requires you to select a country (other than the U.S.) at
the beginning of the semester in relationship to which you observe many of the issues we discuss in
Objective: In-depth country study utilizing a variety of information and news sources
Date due: April 9.
1. Select a country (other than the U.S.) you would like to learn more about. You should begin
this project as soon as possible. The more extensive (covering a longer period) as well as intensive
(variety of news sources; contrasting perspectives of the same event or issue; depth of analysis)
your project is, the higher your grade will be. This is best accomplished by your spending about
15-20 minutes 2-3 times a week, working on it. It will, in fact, be very difficult to successfully
complete this project any other way. On January 22, I will ask you which country you have
2. Look for news articles from a variety of sources (wire service; U.S. press;
overseas press; your country's press) about how the various issues we study in this course relate
to this country. You will find links to online newspapers and magazines around the world on my
web page: http://mcohen02.tripod.com which will assist you. If you are fluent in languages other
than English, you may use newspapers and magazines in those languages as well. Briefly
summarize the articles you find, remembering to cite your sources.
3. Look for articles related to International Relations and to othe issues we will be
examining in this course, including cooperation and tension with neighboring states, regional
and domestic ethnic conflict, nationalism, economics and trade, development, debt, including
evidence of the impact of globalization as well as the activities of Multi-National Corporations
(MNC's) and international institutions such as the UN, the World Bank and IMF; poverty,
migration and refugee issues; health; environmental concerns; drugs; terrorism, and security. (Not
all of these will be applicable to all countries.) Some suggested questions to address include: What
are the issues discussed most frequently in the country's newspapers? What are the major
challenges to this country's national and human security? Who are its political leaders, and what is
the political climate there now? Which other countries appear to arouse the most interest and
concern in terms of external relations, positive and negative? ? How are non-state actors
represented? Does this country appear to have a free press, or is there censorship of the media?
What stories about this country appear in the wire services and in the foreign press (including that
of the U.S.) that are not written about in its own newspapers, and vice versa? Conclude with
some of the concepts you have learned in this course which have helped you analyze what is going
on there, and how they relate to this particular country.
4. At the end of the semester, you will turn in a 6-8 page essay which discusses the events
have taken place during the past 4-6 weeks; issues that have come up in domestic and
international politics; problems that have been discussed and/or addressed; challenges that "your"
country faces; and, in your conclusion, what you have learned about this country, and about
International Relations, from having done this project.
Evaluation: Project II, which accounts for 20% of your semester
grade, will be evaluated according to:
ˇThe general sense of familiarity you convey in your essay
about what is going on in the country you have selected, based upon your research
ˇThe structure and organization of your paper
ˇYour documentation (citations of where and when you got your
data, either in the text or in footnotes)
ˇThe variety of your sources.
Standards for Written Work: Your project must be typed. Sentence and
paragraph structure, spelling, and grammar "count." Any information or opinion in your written
work which is derived from, or quoted directly or indirectly from, a primary or secondary source
(including the Internet), must be correctly cited in a footnote, endnote, or parenthetically within the
text. Failure to cite your source of information is called plagiarism, and carries the
consequence not only of a failing grade on the assignment, but also the possibility of failing the
course and of expulsion from the university. Projects must included a Bibliography or list of Works
Consulted. (If you include no sources because you have used none, I will assume you have done
The following resources may be helpful to you in preparing your written work:
U Seek U Find Guide to Research Resources and Documentation of Internet and Electronic
Style Guides for Citing Internet and Electronic Sources
Common Errors in English
You may also find the following resources useful in choosing a country and doing
Political Resources on the Net
CIA World Fact Book
United Nations Infonation