The literature on active teaching and learning in international studies has developed significantly in recent decades. The philosophy behind active teaching approaches focuses on the goal of empowering students and promoting knowledge retention through engagement and experiential learning. Teacher-scholars in many different disciplines have contributed to a wide and increasingly deep literature on teaching with purpose. They identify best practices, including the importance of designing exercises that have clear educational objectives, exploring examples and alternative ways of engaging students, detailing clear procedures, and implementing assessment protocols. Examples of popular and successful active teaching and learning approaches include teaching with case studies and problem-based learning in international studies, where students confront the complexities of an issue or puzzle, and reason through potential solutions. Other instructors employ structured debates in the classroom, where students are assigned common reading materials and then develop arguments on one side or another of the debate in order to critically examine issues. More teachers are engaging students through use of alternative texts like literature and films, where reading historical narratives, memoirs, or even graphic novels may help capture student interest and promote critical thinking and reflection. In addition, simulations and games remain very popular—from simple in-class game theory exercises to semester-long role-playing simulations of international diplomacy. Studies show that all of these approaches, when implemented with clear educational objectives and intentionality, can promote student learning, interest, and retention of knowledge and perspectives. Finally, teacher-scholars have begun to embrace the importance of assessment and thoughtful reflection on the effectiveness of active teaching and learning techniques for the international studies classroom. Evidence regarding the achievement of learning outcomes, or potential limitations, can help inform improvements in experiential learning program design for future iterations.
Active Teaching and Learning: The State of the Literature
Jeffrey S. Lantis, Kent J. Kille, and Matthew Krain
Assessment of Active Learning
Kay Gibson and Carolyn M. Shaw
With the shift in learning objectives that were more focused on the development of skills and processes, new assessment techniques were required to be developed to determine the effectiveness of new active-learning techniques for teaching these skills. In order for assessment to be done well, instructors must consider what learning objective they are assessing, clarify why they are assessing and what benefits will derive from the process, consider whether they will conduct assessments during or after the learning process, and specifically address how they will design solid assessments of active learning best suited to their needs. The various types of assessment for active-learning strategies include written and oral debriefing, observations, peer- and self-assessment, and presentations and demonstrations. In addition, there are several different measurement tools for recording the assessment data, including checklists and student surveys. A final aspect to consider when examining assessment techniques and measurement tools is the construction of an effective rubric. Ultimately, further research is warranted in the learning that occurs through the use of active-learning techniques in contrast with traditional teaching methods, the “portability” of active-learning exercises across cultures, and the use of newer media—such as internet and video content—as it is increasingly incorporated into the classroom.
Lynn M. Kuzma
There is a body of evidence that suggests that young Americans are disengaged from communal life. Since the late 1980s, college students have been described as materialistic, self-absorbed, and self-interested, acting without regard for community interests. Scholars consider the “me generation” as symptomatic of an eroding democratic civic culture characterized by growing apathy, resentment, even anger. This trend continues today. In order to address this, proponents of higher education have made their attempts to develop civic engagement in young minds. Civic engagement refers to activities within a community, though in the academic setting, the definition becomes much more complex. There is a belief that through participation in a community, students will develop capacities that ultimately lead them to become more active citizens, which in turn benefits not only themselves but also the community. However, higher education’s recommitment to developing students’ civic engagement should be informed by a clear notion of what civic engagement entails. In addition, a certain amount of factual knowledge is a prerequisite for becoming an engaged citizen, as civic learning involves students coming to understand the democratic processes of a community, its history, the problems it faces, and the richness of its diversity. And civic learning opportunities can be taught both in and outside of the classroom, as co-curricular learning opportunities, projects embedded in a class, or as a requirement of a general education curriculum.
Computer-Mediated Communication Technology and Cross-National Learning
Derrick L. Cogburn
With the advent of globalization, the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for socioeconomic development are changing rapidly and dramatically. These skills include the need to better understand how to manipulate symbolic knowledge and how to work in global virtual teams. New applications of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and new organizational models have helped to create important developments in areas such as e-commerce, e-government, and e-learning. Universities, companies, governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and international organizations have worked to develop strategies for dealing with these monumental changes, including developing “global” strategies for building networks, fostering cooperation, and expanding their geographic reach. For all these reasons, it is important to identify and evaluate new methods of teaching international affairs and studies of globalization that capitalize on the tremendous advancements in ICTs. These approaches should take advantage of lessons learned from collaboratories and cyberinfrastructure that allow diverse groups of geographically distributed learners to collaborate in ways that are at times “beyond being there,” or more interactive than if they were located in the same laboratory or seminar room. Six broad and interdisciplinary streams guide the literature leading toward these changes: knowledge creation, education, and learning; group/team dynamics; building trust in virtual teams; culture in global virtual teams; geographically distributed collaborative learning; and infrastructure for distributed collaborative learning.
Computer Simulations in the Classroom
Computer simulations can be defined in three categories: computational modeling simulations, human-computer simulations, and computer-mediated simulations. These categories of simulations are defined primarily by the role computers take and by the role humans take in the implementation of the simulation. The literature on the use of simulations in the international studies classroom considers under what circumstances and in what ways the use of simulations creates pedagogical benefits when compared with other teaching methods. But another issue to consider is under what circumstances and in what ways the use of computers can add (or subtract) pedagogical value when compared to other methods for implementing simulations. There are six alleged benefits of using simulation: encouraging cognitive and affective learning, enhancing student motivation, creating opportunities for longer-term learning, increasing personal efficiency, and promoting student-teacher relations. Moreover, in regard to the use of computer simulations, there are a set of good practices to consider. The first good practice emerges out of a realization of the unequal level of access to technology. The second good practice emerges from a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of a computer-assisted simulation. The final and perhaps most fundamental good practice emerges from the idea that computers and technology more generally are not ends in themselves, but a means to help instructors reach a set of pedagogical goals.
Cooperative Learning in International Relations
Steven L. Lamy
Cooperative learning is a means of providing opportunities for students to work together in an effort to accomplish an assigned intellectual task. There are different types of cooperative learning. In formal settings, students may stay in a learning group for several sessions in order to achieve a specific task. More informal cooperative learning situations usually are temporary or ad hoc groups that are formed by professors to facilitate some form of discussion and learning. In a cooperative learning class, it is important to clearly explain the pedagogical purposes and the required procedures of the course. Instructors should explain how an active learning course works and the responsibilities students have in this kind of course. An effective cooperative learning course demands the instructor’s active participation, as they must monitor the groups, answer research questions, and generally guide the direction of the course discussions. Though there are disadvantages and criticisms against cooperative learning, the study of international relations in particular can benefit from this method. The study of international relations is defined by problems and challenges that are interdisciplinary. Students thus need to be prepared for research and problem-solving in a variety of issue areas. Cooperative learning techniques that provide for the sharing of expertise and research findings with peers provide students with skills that are critical for success in the world today.
Designing and Using Simulations and Games
Carolyn M. Shaw and Amanda Rosen
Simulations and games have been used in the international studies classroom for over fifty years, producing a considerable body of literature devoted to their study and evolution. From the earliest use of these techniques in the classroom, instructors have sought to identify and characterize the benefits of these tools for student learning. Scholars note, in particular, the value of simulations and games in achieving specific learning objectives that are not easily conveyed through lecture format. More recent writings have focused on what specific lessons can be conveyed through different types of exercises and have included detailed descriptions or appendices so that others can use these exercises. As simulations and games have become more widely incorporated into the classroom, a growing body of literature has provided instructions on how to custom design simulations to fit instructors’ specific needs. Although initial evaluations of the effectiveness of simulations were methodologically weak and flawed by research design, sampling, or other methodological problems, newer studies have become more sophisticated. Rather than simply arguing that simulations are (or are not) a better teaching tool than traditional class formats, there is greater recognition that simulations are simply one technique of many that can promote student learning. Scholars, however, are still seeking to understand under what conditions simulations and games are especially beneficial in the classroom.
Experiential Learning and Learning Styles
The intellectual foundation of modern experiential learning theory owes much of its roots to John Dewey’s educational philosophy. In his seminal 1916 work, Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education, Dewey argued that human knowledge and education are rooted in inquiry, which in turn is rooted in human experience. His ideas, along with those of Jean Piaget, formed the basis of D. A. Kolb’s 1984 book Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Kolb’s theory of learning, which he formulated to better understand student learning styles, became the starting point for the debate on the use of experiential learning. Kolb introduced a four-stage cycle to explain learning: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. His framework has been adopted to investigate how learning occurs inside the classroom. However, numerous criticisms have been leveled against Kolb’s learning styles approach. One type of criticism focuses on the importance of learning style on student learning, and another focuses on the construct validity, internal validity, and reliability of Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory (LSI). There are several avenues for improving the use of experiential learning techniques, such as the integration of service-learning into the classroom and an institutional commitment to designing a complete curriculum.
Gender in the Classroom
Although the study of women and gender flourished at intersection of comparative politics (CP) and international relations (IR), mostly international political economy (IPE) and Development Studies, much of IR itself was resistant at its core. Explicitly feminist analysis challenged the core with several decades of research that instructors can incorporate into their classes. The incorporation/transformation challenge can be daunting, however, as publication outlets for research on women, gender, and feminism often remained separate from mainstream journals, with some promising exceptions. These separate tracks are now changing, but instructors still need to check multiple places to prepare for courses and identify good assignments. And although IR feminists seek interaction with the IR core, the core IR theorists are wedded to frameworks associated with realism, liberalism, Marxism, and others, or to positivist, quantitative methodologies that may rely on flawed and male-centric databases rather than grounded field research. A major challenge in the next 40 years involves growing the interactions among bordered subfields; analyzing the intersections of gender, race/ethnicity, class, and nationality; and engaging with southern voices outside the US and Western-centric IR field. In this vein, the classroom is a major arena in which critical thinking, contestation, new research, and action agendas emerge.
A review of introductory international relations, international studies, and global studies textbooks reveals that each field defines itself differently: one in terms of its central focus on the diplomatic and strategic relations of states, the second more broadly by including transnational transactions of all kinds, and the third focusing on globalization as both an object of analysis and a lens through which to view nearly all phenomena. However, in reading past the definitional chapters there are clear overlaps—most notably with regard to each introductory textbook’s treatment of globalization. Close examination of recently published introductory textbooks and those well into multiple editions reveals that globalization is treated as a fundamental aspect of each of the three fields. While both International Relations (IR) and International Studies (IS) scholars have contributed significantly to further broadening of both IR and IS in order to become increasingly “global,” other scholars have moved to create a new field of study called Global Studies (GS). This new field of GS developed in the 1990s as scholars from multiple disciplines began to study the many dimensions of globalization. While globalization remains an essentially contested concept, most scholars accept as uncontroversial that it refers to the many strings that connect the world such that pulling on one string in one place will make a change somewhere else. Globalization’s central dynamics include interconnectivity, reconfiguration of space and time, and enhanced mobility. GS is the only field that places the contested concept of globalization at the center of its intellectual initiative.
Human Rights Education
Human rights education (HRE) is a set of educational and pedagogical learning methods aimed at informing people and training them in their human rights. The earliest foundation of HRE is found under Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which guarantees the right to education. HRE became a widespread concept in the 1990s with the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in 1994 on the UN Decade for Human Rights Education from 1995 to 2004. With this decade, all UN member states agreed to undertake measures to promote and incorporate HRE in the formal and non-formal education sectors. However, toward the end of the UN Decade it was clear that only a few governments had complied with these requests. Instead, most of the promotional work for HRE was done by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). NGOs, foundations, academic institutions, and international organizations have edited and published most of the literature in the field of HRE over the past four decades. Publication figures estimate over 2000 publications since 1965, and the number is growing, particularly in the non-English speaking world. Most materials focus on a particular human rights issue such as gender, children, torture, or freedom rights. In the future, HRE is expected to be more local and community based as well as more target group–orientated.
Incorporating Women into International Studies: Working Their Way In
Meredith Reid Sarkees and Marijke Breuning
Women are underrepresented in the discipline of international studies, though the field has seen a sizeable influx of female professionals only within the last 30 years. As the percentage of women has grown, women have adopted a variety of strategies for “resisting at the margins,” or finding places for themselves within the profession, and for ensuring their professional success. Although the larger presence of women has led to activism and improvement, women still have a way to go before they will have achieved parity with their male colleagues in international studies. Due to their focus on the realm of “high politics,” international relations and international studies were often seen as disciplines that were not suited to the inclusion of women. Consequently, women in international studies have to confront significant barriers to their career progress, which has contributed to women’s disenchantment with the field and to the leaky pipeline in international studies. However, research has found that women in male-dominated fields (such as international studies) are strongly organizationally committed. Women in international studies are willing to structure their professional efforts to conform to the goals and practices of organizations such as the International Studies Association (ISA), especially as participating in annual meetings and conferences is critical for a career in international studies.
Interdisciplinarity: Its Meaning and Consequences
Raymond C. Miller
Interdisciplinarity is an analytically reflective study of the methodological, theoretical, and institutional implications of implementing interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and research. Interdisciplinary approaches in the social sciences began in the 1920s. At a minimum, they involve the application of insights and perspectives from more than one conventional discipline to the understanding of social phenomena. The formal concept of interdisciplinarity entered the literature in the early 1970s. The scholars responsible all shared the thought that the scientific enterprise had become less effective due to disciplinary fragmentation and that a countermovement for the unification of knowledge was the proper response. However, not all interdisciplinarians believe that the unification of existing knowledge is the answer. There are many ways of differentiating between types of interdisciplinary approaches. One classification distinguishes between multidisciplinary, crossdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary approaches. Multidisciplinary approaches involve the simple act of juxtaposing parts of several conventional disciplines in an effort to get a broader understanding of some common theme or problem. Crossdisciplinary approaches involve real interaction across the conventional disciplines, though the extent of communication; thus, combination, synthesis, or integration of concepts and/or methods vary considerably. Transdisciplinary approaches, meanwhile, involve articulated conceptual frameworks that seek to transcend the more limited world views of the specialized conventional disciplines. Even though many believe that interdisciplinary efforts can create innovative knowledge, the power structure of the disciplinary academy resists interdisciplinary inroads on its authority and resources.
International Relations (IR) in Colombia
Carolina Cepeda-Másmela and Arlene B. Tickner
Assessing the International Relations (IR) discipline in Colombia requires deep description of key aspects related to its genealogy, the nature of its scholars and research, and its community structure. IR in Colombia grew out of practical concerns about the creation of adequate human and institutional resources needed to analyze world affairs and Colombian foreign policy. As the field expanded and consolidated, the IR professoriate became more robust and diverse in terms of thematic and geographical trends in research and increased levels of integration at the national and international levels. Several factors have figured prominently in shaping the discipline in Colombia, including the academic training and professional focus of IR scholars, foreign policy interests of the Colombian state, internationalization processes in academia, financial and institutional constraints on research, and patterns of interaction between scholars and policy makers. IR studies in Colombia have not been thoroughly explored, and broad description both allows for a preliminary explanation of their general character and highlights the need for greater reflection about the field’s evolution, shape, and challenges.
Measuring “Success” for Women in International Studies in Academic Settings
Vicki L. Golich
Success is not easy to define or measure. In the academic field, traditional indicators of success include level of educational attainment, type and place of employment, tenure status, promotion or position status, publication productivity, and compensation. Alternatively, success can be defined as “the achievement of something desired or planned.” This is a more inward-looking definition of success, and adopting it might improve the chances for women to attain recognized success because it rewards what women in higher education and in international studies actually do. Some measures about how to determine success in international studies are more quantifiable than others, such as identifying obstacles women have had to overcome to enter and to thrive within the discipline. Others are controversial, such as self-professed goals that do not align with the traditional success measures. For example, many women—and even men—are simply more concerned with seeking work–life–family balance than the “prestige” of a tenured, full-professor appointment at an Ivy League Institution. Clearly, there is a need to change perceptions about what success means and what a successful life looks like. To this end, the academy in general, and international studies as an academic discipline in particular, should rethink how to evaluate quality teaching, recognize a broader range of research as valuable, and honor all kinds of service. They should also undertake some seriously introspective studies focused on why women’s work in academia remains so undervalued. Such studies must include recommendations for action aimed at rectifying current gender imbalances.
Model UN and Model EU Programs
Gretchen J. Van Dyke
The United Nations and the European Union are extraordinarily complex institutions that pose considerable challenges for international studies faculty who work to expose their students to the theoretical, conceptual, and factual material associated with both entities. One way that faculty across the academic spectrum are bringing the two institutions “alive” for their students is by utilizing in-class and multi-institutional simulations of both the UN and the EU. Model United Nations (MUN) and Model European Union simulations are experiential learning tools used by an ever-increasing number of students. The roots of Model UN simulations can be traced to the student-led Model League of Nations simulations that began at Harvard University in the 1920s. Current secondary school MUN offerings include two initiatives, Global Classrooms and the Montessori Model Union Nations (Montessori-MUN). Compared to the institutionalized MUNs, Model EU programs are relatively young. There are three long-standing, distinct, intercollegiate EU simulations in the United States: one in New York, one in the Mid-Atlantic region, and one in the Mid-West. As faculty continue to engage their students with Model UN and Model EU simulations, new scholarship is expected to continue documenting their experiences while emphasizing the value of active and experiential learning pedagogies. In addition, future research will highlight new technologies as critical tools in the Model UN and Model EU preparatory processes and offer quantitative data that supports well-established qualitative conclusions about the positive educational value of these simulations.
Organizing Strategies for Advancing Women in International Studies
Mary K. Meyer McAleese and Susan S. Northcutt
The interdisciplinary field of international studies has traditionally been a male-dominated field. Indeed, the field of international relations, both theory and practice, has been argued to be gendered in highly masculinist ways. Whether as practitioners or as scholars, women have had a difficult time entering and advancing in such male-dominated fields, both in the United States and around the world. Their admittance and full acceptance in the profession has been hindered by laws and regulations, institutional practices and inertia, gendered stereotypes and customary expectations, overt discrimination and subtle biases, or benign neglect. As such, women have adopted a number of different strategies to make their ways into such male-dominated fields. These include working to expand the field to encompass questions of interest to women, developing new networks with other women for mentorship and resource development, and organizing themselves into distinct groups to promote women’s professional interests and advancement. One of these women’s organizations is Women’s Caucus for International Studies (WCIS), a formal section within the International Studies Association (ISA). Since its formal organization in 1996, the Women’s Caucus has worked hard to fulfill its mission of upgrading the status of women in the profession. Specifically, it seeks to promote equal opportunities for women in their professional lives, as well as women’s professional development. The Caucus fulfills its mission in numerous ways, including sponsoring scores of panels and roundtables focused on women’s professional development, and organizing mentoring networks, both inside the Caucus and beyond.
Pedagogy and Foreign Policy Analysis
Pedagogical objectives and educational outcomes play a significant role in foreign policy analysis. The actor-centered approach of foreign policy analysis gives students the unique opportunity to place themselves in the shoes of decision makers and to understand the different constraints, both domestic and international, that influence the policies adopted by decision makers. In other words, foreign policy analysis can have two functions: to teach students about the processes by which foreign policy is made, or the substance of the foreign policies of various countries, and to enhance students’ ability to imagine the perspectives of others. Whether foreign policy analysis does, in fact, manage to develop this ability is an empirical question that also depends on the course emphasis and pedagogies employed. In this sense, pedagogy does not only mean excellent teaching, but also systematic investigation of teaching methods and techniques, student learning outcomes, educational assessment, and curriculum development. The literature on foreign policy analysis, pedagogy, and curriculum emphasizes active learning strategies and the need for clearly articulated learning objectives for the curriculum as a whole and the place of specific courses within it. Examples of active learning pedagogies are case teaching, simulations, and problem-based learning. Despite some very worthwhile research that has been done, there are still some gaps that need to be addressed. One is the lack of empirical work that helps evaluate the merits of the various teaching strategies in foreign policy analysis, and another is the inconsistent findings produced by the empirical studies that do exist.
Race, Racism, and the Teaching of International Relations
Discussions of race and racism are often missing in the curriculum of international relations courses or, when present, categorized as a “critical approach” and placed outside the mainstream. But this absence or marginalization from the mainstream of the discipline does not mean that such discussions are beyond the scope of its primary agenda—that is, theorize interstate relations. On the contrary, questions of race and racism have been foundational to the historical development of international relations. In its formative years, the discipline’s understanding of the global order was shaped by the Darwinist conceptions of racial hierarchies adopted by some its core theorists. They viewed the imperial domination of the “White races” over the “darker peoples of the world” to be justified, considering the immeasurable racial superiority of the former. Revisionist international relations scholars, also active during the formative years of the discipline, worked to upend these racialized hierarchies and underlined the need to account for the struggles and national aspirations of the dominated in international politics. Yet, international relations’ racist disciplinary precepts have persisted, and a color line—both globally and within the discipline—continues to divide the world into racialized, binary categories (e.g., civilized/uncivilized, modern/backward, and developed/undeveloped) that legitimize Western authority in international politics. However, the introduction of race and racism in the teaching of the discipline equally unsettles the assumption that international relations embodies a value-free scientific endeavor. Instead, the role of racist precepts in the making and workings of the field demonstrates that the discipline’s mainstream is deeply positioned in its view of the world and, as a consequence, fails to account for the multiplicity of ways in which international politics is encountered and experienced.
The Role of Geographic Education in International Studies
Geography has been a formal academic discipline in the United States since the early twentieth century. During the first six or so decades of this period, geographic education was dominated by the legacies of environmental determinism and orientalism. These concepts were representative of a Eurocentric worldview that showed contempt for non-Western cultures and economies, treating “natives” of non-Western cultures as backward, ignorant, and lazy. Presentation of material about non-Western areas of the world in geography textbooks and publications has been characterized by assumptions of Western cultural superiority. The late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries saw geographic education undergo considerable transition, as geographers pay more and more attention to perspectives like dependency theory and world system theory. Renewed interest in geographic education coincided with the revival of geography as an intellectual pursuit and recognition of the importance of place in the world economy and in international relations, along with the explosive growth of information made possible by television, the internet, and other technologies. More importantly, the orientalist biases that have historically characterized geographic education in the United States and other Western countries have gradually disappeared. It has been argued that improved geographic education will help overcome geographic illiteracy and promote public awareness of international relations, but such awareness must be intertwined with the changing role of educational institutions in managing information, and to recognition of the changing relationships between education and information.