Course Web pages:
Dr. Andrew Clem
This is where I will post links to news items and op-ed pieces that I mention in class, usually from the Washington Post. To get articles from the Post more than two weeks old, you normally need to set up a special ($) account.
This course is intended to provide students with a broad factual and theoretical basis for understanding past and current events and broader long-term trends in world politics. It is an introduction to the field of international relations as well as a survey of historical and current trends in world politics. It begins by presenting two alternative approaches to studying international relations: realism and idealism. It then briefly reviews the historical evolution of the international political system, emphasizing the enduring central role of political power as well as its elusive, changing nature.
In the second half of the course we will address key contemporary issues, such as war and peace, economic interdependence, human rights, international law, ethics, foreign intervention, global governance, the environment, and the possibility of transforming the global system. The ultimate goal of this class is to provide students with the analytical tools to think logically about complex, controversial global issues about which they have an obligation to express opinions, as citizens of a democratic nation that has an enormous influence on what happens in the world. Most classes will begin with a lecture, followed by ample time for class discussion and diplomatic simulations, as a tool by which students can learn to apply the conceptual tools. The class aims to stimulate writing, critical thinking, and analysis.
REQUIRED: Paul R. Viotti and Mark V. Kauppi, International Relations and World Politics: Security, Economy, Identity 2nd ed. (2001).
RECOMMENDED: John L. Allen, Student Atlas of World Politics 4th ed. (2000).
In addition, there will be occasional assignments of feature news stories and/or opinion-editorial pieces in the Washington Post or other newspapers or magazines. All students should read such a nationally-recognized newspaper to keep up with current events in foreign countries. Although all assignments will be available on-line (at least for a limited time), subscribing to such newspapers will make it much easier to understand the significance of the course material. There will be a few current events questions on the quizzes and exams.
Students are expected to be already familiar with such major events as the European Renaissance, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and World Wars I and II. It is not necessary to memorize specific years or dates, but students should know approximately when major wars and other events occurred, and which events preceded other events. Likewise, students should already know enough world geography to locate major countries such as Japan and Egypt on a map. Those who are unsure about their competence in these core knowledge areas should plan to devote a significant amount of extra time to studying history and geography early in the semester. For ALL students it would be a good idea to review the World history page periodically to refresh your memory.
The table below explains in detail all the assignments that will be used to determine your grade for the course. All exams will consist of objective questions (multiple choice, matching, true/false), as well as essay questions. There is a penalty of 10% per week for late quizzes, exams, or individual assignments, unless the student provides a written excuse from a doctor or other responsible party. Students must notify the professor immediately if they anticipate not being able to take exams or fulfill other class requirements on time. I will not accept writing assignments via e-mail; they must be printed on paper and signed by the student.
One fifth of the total course grade will be based on a formal role-playing "diplomatic simulation" exercise, in which each student represents a country of his or her own choosing, as the "foreign minister" (or U.S. secretary of state). This is an attempt to dramatize and test how the theories of international relations work in practice. During the second week of class, each student will choose two countries in which he or she has a special interest, in order of preference. Whenever more than one student chooses the same country as a first choice (or second), the student who submits his or her choice first will get preference. The professor may have to arbitrarily assign countries, but every effort will be made to accommodate student's preferences. It is very important to fill all five permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council! After country assignments have been made, each student will do research on his or her chosen country, and will write a one-page "country briefing" summarizing the country's resources, goals, as well as its internal and external political situation. (Details are found on the Diplomatic simulation page.) This briefing will serve as the "game plan" for the conduct of negotiations with other students.
After the professor returns the country briefings to the students, with comments and suggested clarifications, students may begin communicating with each other outside of class, by e-mail, etc. This is the preliminary phase when tacit understandings and/or explicit promises are made. However, NO concrete actions may be taken outside of the classroom. There will be three rounds of negotiations (bilateral, regional, and United Nations), and at the beginning of each one the professor will announce certain "critical events" intended to spark reaction among the participants. It is only during those rounds of negotiations that diplomatic transactions can be made: trade agreements, non-aggression treaties, threats, denunciations, or mobilization of military forces. (War is possible, but is mostly beyond the scope of this course.) All such actions must be registered by filling out and signing an index card provided by the professor, who will keep them and post all such actions on the Diplomatic simulation page. The three diplomatic simulations are not graded separately. The grading comes late in the semester, after students submit the final report on their negotiations and accomplishments.
For students who have valid reasons, the best way is to earn extra credit in this course is to attend special campus events, visiting lecturers, etc. If you are interested in something specific, please notify me in advance, and I will give due consideration to the request. If you are approved, you may write a 1-2 page summary of what the speaker(s) said and how it relates to our course. Tell me what you learned or whether your mind was changed in any way. It would also be good if you speak up and raise a question during the presentation(s) you attend. Extra credit projects such as this are generally worth 1 or 2% of the final cumulative score for the course. No more than five students can report on the same campus event, and reports must be submitted within a week of the event. Students who fail to do so after getting permission may lose eligibility for future extra credit. Again, approval in advance is required for ANY extra credit work. DON'T count on it!
NOTE: Dates or text in RED have been changed. The scores you enter in the form above do not get transmitted anywhere, so don't worry about confidentiality. You can play around by entering hypothetical future scores, but bear in mind that the professor will apply a contingent adjustment formula to the cumulative aggregated percentages at the end of the semester (see below), so there is no way to determine in advance exactly what score you will need on the final exam, etc. to attain a given course grade.
The purpose of grading, as I see it, is to reward superior scholarly achievement without inducing undue anxiety. A given class's grading system should provide a clear incentive so that students can decide how much effort to put into it, relative to other classes. I try to be as scrupulously impartial and objective as possible in grading. On every assignment, I indicate the raw point total and percentage score, but no letter grade. In class I announce the class average for each assignment (which will be shown in the table above), so that everyone will have a rough idea of where they stand. The final grade for the course is determined by weighting together the percentage scores for each assignment, as indicated, rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent, and then using the the standard scale of A (90-100), B (80-89), C (70-79), D (60-69). I do not assign letter grades until the end of the semester, although provisional midterm grades will be given to freshmen, as required by the University. If the class average of that "raw" cumulative percentage score is less than 75% (middle C), I generally apply an across-the-board adjustment formula, using a factor that is a multiple of the square root of the difference between the nominal maximum possible percentage score (100% at the end of the semester, excluding any extra credit) and the student's cumulative aggregated percentage score (the result you get when you click on the "Go figure!" button). In other words, the lower the student's total score, the bigger the upward adjustment he or she gets. I choose a factor that will ensure a reasonable overall grade distribution, i.e., slightly more above-C grades than below-C grades. I avoid calling this adjustment formula a "curve," because that term means different things to different people. For one thing, I would never penalize a class for doing better than expected, so I would not use this formula to limit the number of high grades. This procedure has two advantages: it benefits lower-scoring students more than higher-scoring students (thus reducing the often-huge gap between top and bottom), and it virtually eliminates any discretion that I have in choosing the cutoff points from one grade level to the next.
Nobody is perfect: I will rectify any scoring or tabulation errors I may have made, as long as the student bring them to my attention promptly. If any student ever has a question about my grading policies, I will be glad to explain this in more detail.
I have tried to make this Web site as accessible and comprehensive as possible, to help students learn what is most important in this course. Nevertheless, there are bound to be a few issues that need clarification, both in terms of how the course is run and in terms of the subject material itself. Whatever it is that you need to ask, you are always welcome to contact me via e-mail (e-mail) or telephone (568-3377). You can also stop by and visit during my office hours (see above). Please don't wait until the last minute before coming to talk to me!