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Craig Douglas Albert
International relations (IR) theory is favorably described in almost every syllabus since 1930. The most important questions asked were: “What is theory?” and “Is there a reason for IR theory?” The most widely used texts all focus on the first question and suggest, among others, that IR theory is “a way of making the world or some part of it more intelligible or better understood.” We can gauge where the teaching of IR theory is today by analyzing a sample of syllabi from IR scholars serving on the Advisory Board of the International Studies Association’s (ISA) Compendium Project. These syllabi reveal some trends. Within the eight undergraduate syllabi, for example, a general introduction to IR theory is taught in four separate classes. Among the theories discussed in different classes are realism, classical realism, neo-realism, Marxism and neo-Marxism, world-systems theory, imperialism, constructivism, and international political economy. Novel methods for teaching IR theory include the use of films, active learning, and experiential learning. The diversity of treatments of IR theory implied by the ISA syllabi provides evidence that, with the exception of the proliferation of perspectives, relatively little has changed since the debates of the late 1930s. The discipline lacks much semblance of unity regarding whether, and how, to offer IR theory to students. Nevertheless, there have been improvements that are likely to continue in terms of the ways in which theories may be presented.
Leah Seppanen Anderson
A review of undergraduate course offerings at top-ranked colleges and universities in the United States and analysis of course syllabi from undergraduate programs in political science have revealed certain trends in the teaching post-communist politics. For instance, majority of schools now offer post-communist politics courses, although a student at a national university is more likely than one at a liberal arts institution to have the opportunity to learn about the region. Regardless of the type of school, students will most commonly study post-communism from a comparative, rather than international relations, perspective. Comparative courses usually focus on Russia and East Central Europe. Undergraduates curious about why a course on Russian politics matters will most often find syllabi that present the course as an examination of one of the most “dramatic political events of the twentieth century.” The examination of political change and continuing instability or chaos in Russian politics is another common theme. A few syllabi structure the course around theoretical concerns of the discipline and practical policy questions, framing the semester as a study of the quality and scope of democracy in Russia since the end of communism. East Central European (ECE) politics courses encompass multiple states, which creates opportunities and challenges not present in teaching Russian politics. Undergraduates are most likely introduced to East Central Europe through a thematic study of the entire region rather than extensive, individual country case studies.
D. Scott Bennett
The Scientific Study of International Processes (SSIP) is an approach aimed at teaching of international politics scientifically. Teaching scientifically means teaching students how to use evidence to support or disprove some particular logical argument or hypothesis that reaches some level of generalization about relationships between concepts. Closely related to simply asking what evidence there is, is teaching students to address the breadth, depth, and quality of that evidence. The scientific approach may also draw attention to the logic of arguments and policies. Are policies, positions, and the arguments behind them logical? Or is some policy or position based on assumptions that are not logically related, or only true if certain auxiliary assumptions hold true? Teaching methods for SSIP include comparative case studies, experiments and surveys, data sets, and game theory and simulation. Instructors also face several challenges when seeking to teach scientifically, and in particular when they try to make time to teach methodology as part of an international politics course. Some problems are relatively easily overcome just by focusing on effective teaching. Other are unique to SSIP and cannot be dealt with quite so easily. Among these are the need to appeal to a broad audience, and dealing with students' negative reactions to the term “science” and the constraint of finite time in a course.
Ralph G. Carter
Case-based learning offers several advantages in the study of international relations. For instructors, the primary attraction of case-based learning is its emphasis on active student engagement. Rather than reading the assigned material, passively listening to lectures, and memorizing notes, students are drawn into more active roles as their classroom instructors ask questions and require student participation. For students, case-based learning connects course material to the real world beyond the classroom. Regardless of the nature of the case or its source, instructors can take steps to ensure success with a case-based approach. First, instructors should know the details of the case: the background, the facts and events, the issues, the participants, and the results. Second, instructors should ensure that the physical setting of the classroom is appropriate for the anticipated task. Third, instructors should be attentive to the size of the class. Small classes promote participation by more students. Finally, instructors can be attentive to the possibility of pairing cases for comparative discussion and analysis. The success of case-based learning also rests in students' awareness that that passivity on their part is unacceptable. Thus, instructors must be sure that they convey the expectation that students must come to class ready to participate. Some common problems associated with case-based learning include time management, silence or apathy on the part of the students, and failed class.
Various media sources are available to enhance the teaching of international affairs, including literature, film, political cartoons, television programming, newspapers, music, and blogs and other internet-driven resources. Literature has perhaps the longest history as an alternative media resource. The arguments in favor of using literature for teaching international affairs focus on engaging students and livening up their learning experience. Film and video resources can enhance knowledge of international relations by dramatizing and personalizing abstract ideas as well as ordinary events. Films also impact student learning because of their emotional appeal. Cartoons as political expression deserve attention because their significant place in forming public opinion and debate. Although the use of television programming in teaching international affairs appears rarely in the literature, one can consider several current and past popular programs that carried significant political content. These include the European-produced miniseries Traffic that graphically depicted the international political economy of opium, and the syndicated television comedy M*A*S*H, which has raised many questions regarding the pursuit and effects of war. Music and politics frequently mix, as seen in the importance of a national anthem or the political spectacle that unfolds in Olympic Games. Digital online sources and materials push the classroom experience away from linear input–output models and toward information network communities where inputs enter from anywhere.
Steven F. Jackson
The adoption of new technologies in instruction will change the nature of instruction itself. There are four broad categories of the potential benefits of technology in higher education: off-loading; enhanced resources; enriched conventional class lecture/discussion; and outreach through distance education. Other college and university administrators have seen technology as either a money-saving or money-making tool for their institutions. The technologies most commonly associated with pedagogy include desktop software, internet-mediated communications, World Wide Web pages, distance education courseware, internet access to statistical databases, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), cellphone and personal digital assistant applications, and classroom response systems (CRS). There has been a modest and somewhat sporadic literature on teaching with technology in international studies, much of which follows the development of new technologies, such as personal computers, the World Wide Web, and courseware development. The three major themes in the scholarship on technology in teaching and learning in international studies include technology-based enthusiasm/experimentation, comparative studies, and skepticism. However, some of the challenges to scholarship in teaching and learning with technology: the use of technology has become so pervasive, accepted, and easy that few teacher-scholars bother to write in scholarly journals about the act; weak structure of incentives for studying the use of technology in teaching and learning; and technological instability and discontinuity. Nevertheless, there are some technologies and trends that may appear in the future international relations course. These include podcasting, Real Simple Syndication (RSS) Feeds, Twittering, and Wikipeda and Google Books.
Nanette S. Levinson
Over the last five decades, discussions and approaches to communication and development have evolved considerably. Some of these changes particularly focus on the transformation of the nation-state from its initial conception fifty years ago to its current formation, as well as the transition from the study of political and economic progress to the analysis of cultural components and social development today. These major approaches include modernization; diffusion of innovation; dependency paradigm; monistic-emancipatory approach; institutional theory approach; industrial policy; strategic restructuring model; evolutionary paradigm; interorganizational approach; ecosystem approach; and an approach that highlights culture, power, and gender dimensions. Part of this investigation are the emerging research trends in communication and development, which involves a “back to the future” trend and an investigation of the new actors and new technologies in the current communication field. This leads to a discourse about the significance of additional research that could provide new perspectives about communication and development on a larger scale. Additional research is needed in order to capture processes such as cross-organizational learning and improvisation in terms of communication and development, and to recognize the roles of power and culture in these domains. Furthermore, taking a co-processes approach prevents one from assuming that there is only one correct pathway in the field of communication and development
Sai Felicia Krishna-Hensel
Throughout history, technology has played a significant role in international relations (IR). Technological development is an important factor underlying much of humanity’s social, economic, and political development, as well as in interstate and interregional relationships. Beginning with the earliest tool industries of the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods to the present time, technology has been an integral component of the transformative processes that resulted in the organization, expansion, and establishment of distinctive societies. The presence or absence of equal access to technology has often determined the nature of relationships between societies and civilizations. Technology increases the options available to policymakers in their pursuit of the goals of the state, but also complicates their decision making. The question of whether, and how much, technological change has influenced IR has been the subject of considerable debate. Scholars are divided on the emphasis that should be placed on technological progress as an independent variable in the study of relations between states and as a factor in analyzing power configurations in the international system. Among the scientific and technological revolutions that are believed to have contributed to the changing nature of power and relations between states are transportation and communication, the industrial revolution, the nuclear revolution, and the contemporary information revolution. Future research should focus on how these technological changes are going to influence the debates on power, deterrence, diplomacy, and other instruments of IR.
Technology standards are norms or requirements established by consensus and approved by a recognized body that sets uniform engineering or technical criteria. They also come in three types: reference, minimum quality, and compatibility standards. A reference standard is a material, device, or instrument whose assigned value is known relative to national standards or nationally accepted measurement systems. A minimum quality standard, meanwhile, sets criteria for quality, permitting sellers to certify a good or a service as meeting (or not) those criteria. Finally, compatibility standards set criteria for how a device works with other devices. Technology standards have always been important in the world economy, but they are becoming more so in the electronic age. Firms compete with one another for the prestige of establishing a new standard and especially technology platforms or architectures, and governments try to get standards adopted internationally that result in more local jobs and income. This is increasingly difficult as the world economy becomes more global, but that poses no deterrent. International relations scholars have adopted economist and rationalist choice approaches to standard setting in technology. They go beyond them, however, to talk about standards as part of an overall governance system or regime, especially in international affairs.
Jaroslav Tir and John A. Vasquez
A common focus of geography in IR research has been the research on the role of neighborhoods in conflict and peace. Although the theoretical explanation is still underdeveloped, several findings suggest that there may be a neighborhood effect on whether states are at peace or prone to conflict and war. In the realm of quantitative research, contiguous states were found to be more apt to go to war than non-contiguous states. This early work on contiguity spilled over to a concern with territory by looking at the role of borders. The greater the number of borders a state has, the more wars it is likely to experience. This finding can be interpreted in two ways. Those who take a contiguity perspective see the greater number of borders as making for more contiguous neighbors and therefore for a greater opportunity for war; whereas those who take a territorial perspective see the greater number of borders as requiring boundaries to be marked and/or defended with the use of force. Additionally, while the traditional domain of research concerning territory has been international relations, the territorial conflict scholarship has recently started to branch into the arena of domestic politics. Probably the most prominent focus of this new research has been the proclivity of ethnically based territorial claims that operate on the level of domestic politics to escalate to the point of armed conflict and civil war.
Frank Foley and Max Abrahms
Since 9/11, terrorism has been widely perceived as the foremost threat to the United States, its allies, and the broader international community. Political scientists have historically paid little attention to the study of terrorism and counterterrorism; in the subfield of international relations (IR), the focus of research of the dominant realist tradition was on great power politics, not on substate violence. In the post-9/11 world, IR scholars have begun to show interest in the causes and consequences of terrorism. Studies undertaken since October 2001 have been increasingly quantitative, employing a mixture of descriptive and inferential statistical analyses. Yet this heightened scholarly attention has yielded few uncontested insights. Fundamental methodological, empirical, and theoretical questions about terrorism have become the subject of intense discussions. The definition of terrorism in particular remains problematic. Scholars also debate over the virtues of large-n studies versus case studies, the accuracy of terrorism events data, and al-Qaida’s place within the history of terrorism. In the case of counterterrorism, much of the literature has followed policy trends rather than developing empirically grounded theories. Two strands of counterterrorism literature are country case studies and discussions on the relative merits of different policy instruments. There has been increased interest in systematic studies of counterterrorism effectiveness and the nascent development of theories on the sources of counterterrorist policies in recent years, which raises the possibility for theoretically informed and methodologically aware debates in the study of state responses to terrorism.
The internet has emerged as an important medium for terrorists. Two key trends can be discerned from cyberterrorism: the democratization of communications driven by user generated content on the internet, and modern terrorists’ growing awareness of the internet’s potential for their purposes. The internet has become a favorite tool of the terrorists because of the many advantages it provides, such as easy access; little or no regulation, censorship, or other forms of government control; potentially huge audiences spread throughout the world; anonymity of communication; fast flow of information; interactivity; inexpensive development and maintenance of a Web presence; a multimedia environment; and the ability to influence coverage in the traditional mass media. These advantages make the network of computer-mediated communication ideal for terrorists-as-communicators. Terrorist groups of all sizes maintain their own websites to spread propaganda, raise funds and launder money, recruit and train members, communicate and conspire, plan and launch attacks. They also rely on e-mail, chatrooms, e-groups, forums, virtual message boards, and resources like YouTube, Facebook, and Google Earth. Fighting online terrorism raises the issue of countermeasures and their cost. The virtual war between terrorists and counterterrorism forces and agencies is certainly a vital, dynamic, and ferocious one. It is imperative that we become better informed about the uses to which terrorists put the internet and better able to monitor their activities. Second, we must defend our societies better against terrorism without undermining the very qualities and values that make our societies worth defending.
Before the late 1960s, terrorism was commonly viewed as an internal problem that belonged to the realm of policing rather than foreign policy. The Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s airplane hijackings in Europe, combined with the 1972 Munich Olympics wherein eleven Israeli athletes were captured and held hostage by Black September, gave rise to some foundational counterterrorism policy features; for example, no negotiations with terrorists. But it was not until the 1983–1984 attacks on its embassy and the Marine barracks in Beirut that the United States began to see terrorism as a policy concern. The terrorist attacks of September 11 also led scholars to become increasingly interested in integrating work on international terrorism into international relations (IR) and foreign policy theories. The theories of IR, foreign policy concerns of policy makers, and terrorism studies intersect in areas such as the development of international law governing terrorism, poverty, economic development, globalization, military actions, and questions of whether deterrence is still possible in the age of decentralized terrorist groups and suicidal terrorism. Despite decades of research on terrorism and counterterrorism, some very basic and important gaps remain. Issues that the academic literature on foreign policy or terrorism must address include the effects of the evolving organizational structure of terrorist groups, illegal immigration, the radicalization of European Muslims, and the phenomenon recently identified as “swarming.”
The study of international organizations (IOs) has been described as lacking theoretical depth. However, the field actually has a more solid theoretical foundation than some of its critics allege. Moreover, the variety of approaches has entailed multifaceted knowledge of the internal workings as well as the global effects of IOs. Three theoretical traditions have emerged, dealing with institutions, organization, and governance. Institutional analysis has a central position in political science. In the study of domestic institutions, three major schools—rational choice institutionalism, historical institutionalism, and sociological institutionalism—have emerged. Organization theory represents a change of focus from the ideational structures studied by institutionalists to more material and human structures. Whereas both institutional and organizational approaches were originally formulated for domestic structures, institutionalists have been more receptive to exploring domestic-international analogies and contrasts. Even if both institutional and organization theories pay attention to process— institutionalizing rules and practices as well as organizing collective entities are long-term processes— IO studies inspired by these approaches tend to focus on relatively stable structures, asking questions concerning the establishment, persistence or change, and impact of international institutions and organizations. A third, more recent perspective focuses on continuous processes of governance, involving international organizations as well as other types of actors.
Loren R. Cass
Climate politics presents difficulties for study given its interdisciplinary nature and the scientific complexities involved in climate change. Climate change politics had got its start in the mid- to late 1980s, as climate science became more and more accessible to policy makers and the general public. Yet prior to 2008, climate politics was only touched upon in major publications on international relations, with the exception of policy journals. Climate change was frequently referenced in articles on a range of topics, but it was not the primary focus of analysis. The recent years have seen an explosion in literature focusing on the topic, however. The potential for massive economic, political, and ecological dislocation from the consequences of climate change as well as from the potential policies to address the problem have since resulted in an extensive literature, with scholars addressing aspects of climate politics from every paradigm within international relations, as well as drawing on research in numerous other related disciplines. In addition, efforts to address the consequences of climate change have evoked controversial ethical and distributive justice questions that have produced an important normative literature. Overall, the literature on climate politics centers on two issues: how we can explain the international political response to climate change, as well as how the international community should respond to climate change.
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of International Studies. Please check back later for the full article.
The central characteristic distinguishing international borders in the 21st century from those of earlier historical eras is their linearity: their appearance as a series of one-dimensional points connected by straight lines. International relations (IR) often takes for granted the global-historical process that brought this about, but because cross-border relations are the main substance of inquiry in IR, many theories and areas of study in the field contain some perspective on that process, at least implicitly. These perspectives can be divided into historical accounts of the origins of linear borders on one hand and discussions concerning their implications on the other.
Explanations of linear borders often refer to the emergence of the nation-state in Europe, viewing modern borders in either a realist or a rationalist vein: as hardened battle lines of intense geopolitical competition, or as a rational state institution minimizing uncertainty and transaction costs. Constructivists have also drawn attention to social epistemes and cartographic practices making it possible to imagine polities as bounded by precisely demarcated lines before boundaries were actually created as such. Beyond these perspectives one might also examine the growth of a professional surveying practice around private property as well as the construction of linear boundaries as civilized, both of which were closely associated with colonialism and imperialism.
As for the consequences of modern borders, debate has proceeded in several directions. One argument posits that the introduction and perseverance of colonial borders in the Global South has contributed to “state failure,” an argument that has been criticized for its assumption that more natural borders are somehow possible. Another argument, which can be traced back to 19th-century geography, is that precise, fixed boundaries promote peace in international relations. Finally, it could also be argued that linear boundaries contribute to the privileging of certain kinds of geographical expertise over others and make it possible to imagine territory as a structure that is fundamentally the same across the world, regardless of context.
Thierry Balzacq and Stéphane J. Baele
International Relations (IR) theory has undergone a series of debates which have left profound changes on the discipline as a whole. These debates, though highly influential, have still caused some controversy among those in the field. Indeed, IR scholars have yet to reach a consensus as to the number of debates in IR, let alone whether or not the third debate should be recognized as part of that esteemed history, or, further still, whether or not the debates should remain part of IR discourse at all. The eclectic nature of the third debate, after all, makes it difficult to classify, as there are multiple definitions and accounts of what the third debate truly entails. The third debate originated in the 1980s, as a certain set of scholars attempted to open up the theoretical field of international relations to previously neglected viewpoints. These so-called “dissidents,” more specifically, had aimed to liberate the field from the neo-utilitarian tradition of thought. The epistemological-ontological common ground of traditional IR theories stands at the very center of dissidents’ attack, because of their commitment to undermine “foundationalist discourses.” Furthermore, the third debate is credited with the emergence of constructivism as a mainstream theory of IR, the opening up of IR to new objects and subfields, and the growth of critical approaches to IR.
Joachim K. Rennstich
The new information age has the potential not only to alter the historical path of world system development, as other socio-technological paradigmatic shifts have done, but also to transform it substantially. One school of thought argues for a complete upending of past patterns with nation states in their hierarchical alignment as the center core and periphery of power in this system. An alternative view instead argues that the regularized interaction that characterizes a world system may envisage a number of modes of production without altering its fundamental structure. The world system in this view is made up of a variety of complex intra-organizational and interorganizational networks intersecting with geographical networks structured particularly around linked clusters of socioeconomic activity. Information and carrier technologies based on new forms of information technologies and their connection to network technologies play a vital role in the long-term evolution of world system development characterized by both path-dependencies and major transformations that result from technological innovations. While digital information technologies significantly alter the processing and use of information as a central element of power and control within this network structure and therefore its network logic, they do not break the evolutionary process of world system development.
Marc L. Busch and Edward D. Mansfield
A survey of the literature on trade has revealed that it is becoming more difficult for elected officials resist protectionist pressures by citing constraints imposed by global pacts and supply free trade. There are two main reasons why. First, the literature on the design and politics of international institutions increasingly emphasizes how they build in slack that can undermine government claims of being constrained. Second, as states accede to an ever-growing list of overlapping international institutions, there is often a choice among, or uncertainty over, which institution’s obligations apply. Where this situation creates more policy space for government officials, it also will make it more difficult for them to credibly tie their hands and supply free trade in the face of interest group pressures for protection. Currently, the literature is somewhat at a turning point. Questions about the design and politics of international institutions, and the growing thickness of the market for them, are very much in vogue. These questions have profound implications for the supply of free trade. The credibility of elected officials’ hands-tying strategies is likely undermined where institutions anticipate the political reactions of their members, or where members can shop for different rules on trade to accommodate domestic preferences. The irony is that the proliferation of international institutions may lead scholars of trade policy to renew their focus on domestic interest groups.
Russell Alan Williams and Jeff Loder
Compared to trade in goods, there hasn’t been much attention given to international exchange in services and efforts to promote liberalization of those exchanges. Despite considerable efforts to promote global and regional services liberalization since the 1980s, much of the study of “trade in services” remains somewhat underdeveloped. Governments maintain foreign direct investment (FDI) restrictions on the ownership and operation of financial services and media companies, and most countries continue to insist on strict limitations on the rights of workers to trade their services across borders. While the revolution in communications and transportation technology in recent decades has intensified interest in services, services are still highly regulated and the removal of traditional trade barriers is inadequate to promote liberalization. The initiatives undertaken to promote the removal of service trade barriers include the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) General Agreement on Trade In Services (GATS); the European Union’s (EU) Services Directive; and the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) signed by member states of the Association of South Eastern Asian Nation members (ASEAN) in 1995. These initiatives have generated a range of academic controversies and investigation, which has explored three themes: explaining the process by which the issue of liberalization came to the forefront of the global trade agenda, deploying a range of theoretical perspectives; assessing the impact and effectiveness of services liberalization agreements; and explaining why it has proven more difficult to promote liberalization in the services sector.