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Teaching International Relations Theory in Introductory Global Politics Courses  

Jamie Frueh and Jeremy Youde

Theory can be a controversial element of an Introduction to International Relations (IR) course. Many undergraduate students have not been trained to think theoretically, and as a result many instructors find the abstract elements of IR theory difficult to teach, especially to students who lack the motivation provided by plans to major in political science or IR. But learning to think theoretically and to understand IR theory specifically is a valuable exercise for undergraduate students, particularly for nonmajors. Whether or not one believes IR theory to be good in and of itself, studying theory is a critical component of a complete liberal education, one that prepares students to be engaged global citizens. In addition to exploring effective ways to teach particular theories, instructors should work on making sense of the purpose of studying IR theory in ways that resonate with students. Learning IR theory requires students to think theoretically, something familiar to all who have survived the gauntlet of a doctoral program. Teaching students to think theoretically requires instructors, first, to empathize with the limited experience most undergraduate students have with academic theory, and second, to build learning environments that engage and authorize students as theoreticians. Utilizing active learning techniques and thoughtful assessment exercises, instructors can create environments more conducive to learning IR theory while engaging students in areas and media to which they are already connected. This approach to teaching requires adventurousness in the classroom and broader discussions about how to teach IR in general.

Article

Global Studies  

Amentahru Wahlrab

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.

Article

Legal Perspectives in IR and the Role of Latin America  

Juliana Peixoto Batista

The room for dialogue between international law (IL) and international relations (IR) is vast. Since the emergence of the liberal world order in the 20th century, there is a growing closeness between IL and IR approaches. Latin America played a significant role in this process, helping to shape the liberal world order. Despite the fact that liberal approaches to IR and IL promote the most self-evident interdisciplinary dialogue, there is a growing intersection field in critical approaches to IR and IL that should be further explored, and Latin America also has a role to play in that cross-fertilization process. By analyzing critical approaches, the narrative in both disciplines can be expanded, bringing a Global South perspective to the mainstream debate. How did IL scholars read changes in the international system from the second half of the 20th century? How did IR scholars read changes in the role of IL in the international system at the beginning of the 21st century? What is the role of Latin America and its contribution to these changes? With this in mind, intersection spaces can be revealed where room for conceptual, methodological, and collaborative work can be explored.