Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe Following the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, new regimes and states emerged across Eastern Europe and Eurasia. The world watched and wondered what Europe would become. Some claimed the end of history was due with only democracy and capital growth ahead, others argued that Europe would continue to cycle between democratic demands and authoritarian domination, and still others anticipated an impeding clash of civilizations in which cultural divides would supplant ideology as the primary global conflict. While these hypotheses are still being tested, following the collapse we witnessed new regimes and states with vast variance, including variations in politics, economics, and conflict. For instance, many central European countries consolidated democratic rule and central Asian states consolidated authoritarian rule. Some diversified their economies and others remained resource dependent. War and genocide rattled the former Yugoslavia, yet Czechoslovakia divided into two countries with minimal violence. Through a comparative perspective, this course examines these and other post-communist variations in Eastern European and Eurasian countries. In particular, we will focus on the conditions of communism, the events that preceded the fall of the ‘iron curtain’ and the subsequent shifts in political order. Exploring diverse histories that have bound and separated communities and their interrelationships will help us grapple with the variation of new groups and politics, and allow us to sort out and debate a wide range of political and social theories.
Pandemic Politics: Nations, Nationalism and Covid-19 The course provides a comprehensive introduction to nations and nationalism issues before, during, and, how they may develop, after the global crisis and response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We will focus on ways to understand and examine nationalism and national identification and the conflict that they sometimes stimulate or become associated with. We will study various forms of national conflict: peace, protest, rioting, as well as more extreme forms, genocide, secession, and civil war.
The course will primarily focus on cross-case comparisons of nations in different countries and regions but will also examine questions regarding the global effects of nations. For instance, will fighting the pandemic reinforce national governments as the core of the international system, or will new degrees of global cooperation and governance develop as a natural response to a global catastrophe? Is this the end of the world as we know it? Could the crisis mark a new beginning? How will it affect the global and national approaches to climate change? As we seek to answer these questions, we will discuss a broad range of thematic topics, which are complemented with a selection of academic readings and applied to historical and additional contemporary issues. No field of study may provide a complete understanding of national issues before or in the midst of a pandemic. Consequently, we consider an interdisciplinary perspective that looks into anthropological, psychological, sociological, environmental, political, economic, religious, and historical perspectives regarding nations and nationalism.
Introduction to International Politics Our course examines the politics between states. Some scholars argue that the politics between states is a jungle where only the strongest states survive. Others argue that the politics between states is a society where cooperation between states improves life. And still others argue that the politics between states is what we make it. It remains debated whether we are indeed passengers on a ride in a jungle or society, or in fact agents that can shape the politics between states. In this course we explore these perspectives in the context of history and current affairs to see what best explains international politics and where we are headed.
We will also explore these perspectives and the role of international organizations through a deep participative analysis of the United Nations (UN). Through our semester-long Model UN (MUN) unit we will dive into specific global issues and the role of organizations, laws and human rights in international affairs.
Finally, each section of the course seeks to familiarize us with regional patterns in order to critically assess and better understand ourselves, politics, and the communities we choose to engage.
Introduction to International Studies In many respects, international studies traces its beginnings to ancient Greece. In ancient times, a theorist (theôros) was someone who traveled outside the confines of the polis to attend the religious festivals of other Greek cities and reported back the knowledge gained. As we partake in both this ancient pursuit and leverage the works of many who have traveled (in various ways) across the globe and brought back knowledge, this course will expose students to major trends in international studies, particularly its theoretical and methodological foundations, as well as the cultural, geographic, economic, and political characteristics of major world regions and nations. . Peace and Conflict This course introduces advanced students to the academic study of peace and conflict. The course readings are organized thematically to try and track the interdisciplinary integration of the field and its animation of peace and conflict today. Throughout, students are exposed to the discipline’s prominent authors, the substance of the discipline‘s major theoretical perspectives, substantive debates between and within these perspectives, the major episodes of peace and conflict around the world, and recurrent controversies over the epistemology and method of studying peace and conflict.
Research Design and Qualitative Methods This course explores how to construct research designs and utilize qualitative research methods. The goal is to help students develop the skills to identify strategies that scholars use to generate and organize knowledge, thoughtfully critique research approaches, and become knowledge seekers and creators in their own right.