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Bachelor 2020/2021

Understanding International Relations Theory

Type: Compulsory course (Asian and African Studies)
Area of studies: Asian and African Studies
When: 2 year, 2, 3 module
Mode of studies: distance learning
Open to: students of all HSE University campuses
Instructors: Mikhail Karpov
Language: English
ECTS credits: 3

Course Syllabus

Abstract

The course combines historic approach and analysis of the modern political problems. The historic part shows the evolution of the international relations theory from being a part of political philosophy to its emergence as a special branch of political science, which is essential to understand the key ideas of the IR science. The lectures also include broad outline of the modern concepts and debates in the context of the contemporary political problems, such as rise of China and other emerging powers, threat of terrorism, US-Russia confrontation, etc. https://www.coursera.org/learn/international-relations-theory?=
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The course aims to introduce the key assumptions of the international relations theory as a part of social science and as an analytic tool, focusing on the problems of war and peace, foreign policy decision-making, etc.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Names the ancient roots of modern IR theories
  • Describes the second grand paradigm of international relations: liberalism.
  • Describes the great debates between the two grand paradigms during the World Wars and explain how the first scientific theories emerged from these debates.
  • Finds out a realistic answer to the question: how to survive in the nuclear age?
  • Describes the evolution of the liberal paradigm during the Cold War.
  • Describes the world of class struggle and imperialist wars
  • Describes the so-called critical theories and their interpretation of the key problems of world politics.
  • Describes the one of the key theoretical problems in the IR science: who is actor of international politics?
  • Gets to know the answers to the questions: What is power in IR and how can we classify it? What is the balance of power concept? Which state is the most powerful in the world and can a non-state actor dominate the world politics?
  • Formulates, states and reasonably defends their own vision of the questions: is it possible to create a world government? And will this lead to "eternal peace"?
  • Describes the Realist Paradigm in the XXI century
  • Describes a realist interpretation of the Russian actions within the international system.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Birth of the science and classical tradition
    The module aims to introduce to the ancient roots of the modern IR theories. Starting form Thucydides and his "History of Peloponnesian War" the lecture teaches to the student's further intellectual development of the realist paradigm of international relations: Machiavelli, Hobbes and creation of the Treaty of Westphalia, which in many respects became a foundation of the modern international politics.
  • Origins of Liberalism
    The lecture introduces the students to the second grand paradigm of international relations: liberalism. What if the international politics is not a static world of fights and survival, but a permanent movement to a better world? The origins of the new approach lies in the age of Enlightenment and even earlier - in the very core ideas of Christianity.
  • The beginning: the World Wars and genesis of the IR science
    Since the very beginning the development of political thought was hugely stimulated by wars. In the first half of the XX century the question of war and peace became critical for survival of our civilisation. The module introduces to the great debates between the two grand paradigms during the World Wars and explains how the first scientific theories emerged from these debates.
  • Kenneth Waltz and Structural Theory
    The Cold War became a new intellectual challenge for the IR thinkers. How to survive in the nuclear age? The module introduces to the realist answer, which took a form of the structural realism.
  • Neoliberalism: The Liberal paradigm after the WWII
    The module aims to teach the evolution of the liberal paradigm during the Cold War. Failed to build up an "eternal peace" after the French Revolution and after the WWI, liberalism proposes a new, even more comprehensive theory to make a new attempt.
  • Marxism and Neo-Marxism
    While the two classical paradigms passes through great debates, Marxism proposes a fundamentally different picture of the world. Welcome to the world of class struggle and imperialist wars: a comprehensive study of economic factors, which drives the world politics will challenge the very basic assumptions of realism and liberalism.
  • Critical IR theories (Constructivism, Postmodernism, Feminism)
    The end of the Cold War, which have never been predicted by any classical theory, put a question about their legitimacy and broke up fundamental academic debates. The module introduce to the so-called critical theories and their interpretation of the key problems of world politics.
  • Actors in international relations
    The module focuses on the one of the key theoretical problems in the IR science: who is actor of international politics? While some theories assumes that only states have enough capabilities ti be considered as actors if IR, some concepts assume that even an individual can play an important role. The module introduces the students to these important debates.
  • Power in international relations
    Power is the fundamental category of political science. What is power in IR and how can we classify it? What is the balance of power concept? Which state is the most powerful in the world and can a non-state actor dominate the world politics? The module give answers to these and other questions relating the topic.
  • Global governance
    Is it possible to establish a world government? And will it lead to "eternal peace"? These questions are essential to understand the key patterns and contradictions, which drive the modern international politics.
  • Back to classics: the Realist Paradigm in the XXI century
    The most ancient concept emerges again in the XXI century: with new conflicts, hybrid wars and power struggle between the key states realism seems to be the best to explain international politics. Does it mean that the mankind never changes and the modern world is not so different from the world of Thucydides? Or the realist theories just adapt themselves to the modern world?
  • Russia as a realist power
    Russian foreign policy seems to be a mystery for many observers. The module proposes a realist interpretation of the Russian actions within the international system. Does it give an all out explanations?
  • Discussion in classroom
    Discussion of the covered material
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Tests 1
  • non-blocking Tests 2
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (3 module)
    0.5 * Tests 1 + 0.5 * Tests 2
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Brown, C., & Ainley, K. (2009). Understanding International Relations (Vol. Foruth edition). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1522816
  • Burchill, S., Linklater, A., & Devetak, R. (2013). Theories of International Relations (Vol. 5th ed). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1526050
  • Chakrabarti, P. N. (2018). History of International Relations. [N.p.]: New Central Book Agency. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=2239647
  • Kaufman, J. P. (2018). Introduction to International Relations : Theory and Practice (Vol. Second edition). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1668224
  • Lebow, R. N. (2003). The Tragic Vision of Politics : Ethics, Interests and Orders. New York: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=120527
  • Lebow, R. N. (2007). Coercion, Cooperation, and Ethics in International Relations. New York: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=193856

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • A Series of Publications in Japanese Studies: History, Politics, Foreign Policy, International Relations, Russia-Japan Relations and Japanese Studies in Russia ; Серия изданий по Японии: история, внутренняя и внешняя политика, российско-японские отношения, японоведение в России. (2016). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.D5768DF7
  • Acharya, A. (2013). The Making of Southeast Asia : International Relations of a Region (Vol. Reprint ed). Singapore: Cornell University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=671333
  • Controversies in international relations theory : realism and the neoliberal challenge / Charles W. Kegley. (1995). New York: St. Martin’s Pr. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.04206273X
  • Lebow, R. N. (2010). Why Nations Fight : Past and Future Motives for War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=337696
  • Lebow, R. N. (DE-588)110482727, (DE-576)161934102. (2008). A cultural theory of international relations / by Richard Ned Lebow. Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.28576392X
  • Rengger, N. J. (2000). International Relations, Political Theory and the Problem of Order : Beyond International Relations Theory? London: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=460203
  • Russia-EU relations : the present situation and prospects / Centre for European Policy Studies. (2005). Brussels. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.389731757
  • Waltz, K. N. (2001). Man, the State, and War : A Theoretical Analysis. New York: Columbia University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=461136