Effective: Late Spring 8-Week, 2018/2019

POSC 292: International Relations

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  Course Description

Theory and practice of how nations relate to each other.  G. E. Course meets multicultural graduation requirement.

Prerequisite: None

Proctored Exams: Midterm and Final



  • Bova, R. (2015). How the World Works: A Brief Survey of International Relations (3rd ed.). Pearson.  
    • [ISBN-978-0-13-437884-8]
  • Snow, D. M. (2015). Cases in International Relations (6th ed.). Pearson.  
    • [ISBN-978-0-205-98353-7]
    • Note: The chapters from this text that are required for this course are available as a custom package through MBS Direct, ISBN 9781975015053.

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

The purpose of this course is to acquaint you with the study of international politics. In the first part of the course we will examine the development of the current international system and look at some of the theories that explain how international politics work. The focus of our attention throughout the term will be the tension between the approaches that emphasize the state as the primary actor in an international system characterized by anarchy with approaches that place greater emphasis on the role of international institutions and the potential for global cooperation.

Why study international relations? Even though we are a global power and the attacks of September 11, 2001, highlighted the need to pay attention to threats beyond our borders, America remains a very insulated country. Most Americans don’t speak a foreign language or follow international events carefully.  
The fact is, whether you live on embassy row in Washington D.C. or in a small town in the middle of the country, odds are that some aspect of your life will be affected by international politics, and this is growing more true every day. A straightforward example is America’s military involvements. Many Columbia College students are active military or in the National Guard or Reserves.  Between 2001-2009, about 2 million servicemen and women were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, including over 200,000 Reservists and 254,000 members of the National Guard.  It is quite likely that you or someone you know was engaged in these actions. Another example is energy prices. Our price of gas at the pump is highly dependent on stability in the Middle East and demand in other countries.  Finally, economic crises are not just national, they are global. In 1998, the collapse of Asian financial markets became know as the ‘Asian flu’ because market instability spread to developing markets around the world. The 2008 economic crisis had its start in the United States and quickly became global.  Our recovery from this crisis is affected by the condition of the world economy, as well, hence our concern about the state of countries in the Euro zone. We need others to be prosperous to buy our exports, for example.

The bottom line: International affairs do affect our lives! We need to be able to understand and explain how and why political actors on the global stage interact in the ways that they do.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe significant events in the history of international relations.
  2. Explain and apply the major theoretical approaches to understanding international relations.
  3. Identify and explain the roles played by states and non-state actors in the international system.
  4. Identify and explain institutions and processes associated with international security, global governance and the global economy.
  5. Integrate a range of secondary sources into an analysis of contemporary international relations.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 900-1000 90-100%
B 800-899 80-89%
C 700-799 70-79%
D 600-699 60-69%
F 0-599 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (20) 200 20%
Internet Activities (6) 150 15%
Papers (2) 150 15%
Exams (2) 500 50%
Total 1000 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Introduction 0 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 1 10
Discussion 2 10 Friday/Sunday
Discussion 3 10 Sunday
Internet Activity 1 25
Plagarism Tutorial Quiz 0

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 4 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 5 10 Sunday
Paper 1 50
Proctor Information N/A

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 6 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 7 10 Friday/Sunday
Discussion 8 10 Sunday
Internet Activity 2 25

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 10 10 Friday/Sunday
Discussion 11 10 Sunday
Internet Activity 3 25
Midterm Exam 250

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 12 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 13 10 Sunday
Internet Activity 4 25

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 14 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 15 10 Sunday
Internet Activity 5 25

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 16 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 17 10 Friday/Sunday
Discussion 18 10 Sunday
Paper 2 100

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 19 10 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 20 10 Friday/Saturday
Internet Activity 6 25 Friday
Final Exam 250 Saturday
Total Points: 1000

  Assignment Overview

Reading assignments: Please complete the assigned readings prior to working on the assignments for the week. Some weeks will have supplemental readings for further study that will enhance the course material.

Discussions:  There will be 2-3 discussion topics each week related to that week’s content. You are required to make an original post in each topic by the deadline listed below. You must also respond to the posts of at least 2 other students by Sunday night each week. No late discussions are accepted. No credit will be given for responses posted after the due date.​ Any citations incorporated in your posts should be written in APA format.

Internet Activities:  Internet Activities will ask you to visit one or more websites related to that week’s theme and answer questions about the information found. You can expect to write about 2 pages for each activity. Internet Activities are worth 25 points each. Be sure to address all questions completely and fully. They should be submitted by their assigned due dates to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course. Documents should be submitted in .rtf, .doc or .docx format, and should follow APA guidelines. Complete instructions for each activity can be found in the Content area.  

Papers: There will be two papers, one due in Week 2 and another due in Week 7.  The first paper will be a short paper of 3-4 pages in length on a topic related to theories of international relations.  It is worth 50 points. The other paper is a medium length paper of 5-7 pages in length on a current international relations issue approved by the instructor. It is worth 100 points. Each paper should be submitted to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course. Documents should be submitted in .rtf, .doc or .docx format, and should follow APA guidelines. Complete instructions for each paper can be found in the Content area. 

All papers must be originally written for this course. Papers written for other courses may not be used to meet this assignment.

Exams:  There will be two exams, a midterm and a final, each worth 250 points.  The exams will consist of multiple-choice, short-answer and longer essay questions. The final exam is not cumulative. These exams will be taken through the Quizzes area of the course, and they must be proctored. Please see Proctor Policy below.  The Midterm and Final exams are closed notes, closed book, and you may not use the web or any other materials to assist you on the exams.  The use of cell phones, pagers or flash drives are also prohibited.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Bova: Chapter 1
Snow: Chapter 11 

Introduce yourself in the "Introductions" topic of the Discussions area of the course.  Please give us more than your name. Include your profession, hobbies, interest in international affairs, and any other information that can help us get to know you.  How do you feel your life or community is affected by international relations? Please post your response in the appropriate topic by midnight Wednesday.

Discussion 1

Chapter 1 of Bova introduces us to several theoretical perspectives, including Realism, Liberalism, Constructivism, Feminism and Neo-Marxism. Theoretical perspectives provide ways of explaining how the world works, as well as offering prescriptions for policy choices.  Which of these perspectives do you think best describes how the world works? Why? Policymakers use these perspectives, even if they don’t consciously acknowledge using them. Which perspective do you think the Trump administration uses to interpret world events? How does its approach compare to the Obama administration? Provide evidence from your own research.

Discussion 2

Review Bova pp. 31-35 before responding to this question. Would the world be more peaceful if women had more power? Why or why not? Has the foreign policy behavior of women leaders provided evidence in support of the feminist argument? Research one of the following female leaders (Theresa May, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Michelle Bachelet, Christine Kirchner, Angela Merkel, Dilma Roussef, Park Geun-hye or Julia Gillard) and share your findings. Did what you learn seem to support the feminist argument? Why or why not?

Discussion 3
Read Snow Ch. 11 before responding to this question. What is a rising power? How do rising powers present challenges to the international system?Some see China’s growth and fear the rise of a threatening competitor and rival. Others believe China will be increasingly integrated into the global economy and subject to international norms. Which view do you think is most convincing? Justify your answer with evidence from the texts and your own research.
Internet Activity 1

Instructions for the Internet Activity are in the Content area of the course under Week 1.  The work of Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) is frequently cited as the inspiration for realist thinking in International Relations. Learn about Machiavelli’s life and times  and read excerpts from his famous primer on ruling, The Prince. Do Machiavelli’s ideas still apply today? Answer the questions found in the Internet Activity file under Week 1 in the Content area. Format all citations using APA guidelines.  Submit your assignment to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course.

Plagarism Tutorial Quiz
View the Plagiarism Tutorial in the Content area of the course and take the Plagiarism Quiz in the Quizzes area of the course.This assignment is not graded but will help you understand plagiarism and how to avoid it.
Bova: Chapters 2-3
Discussion 4
Should the U.S. attempt to ensure order in the international system in the years to come through a balance of power, collective security, or by trying to maintain a position of unipolarity, with the United States as the dominant power? In your answer, take a position and use examples from history to support your arguments.
Discussion 5

What are the main challenges to realist models of decision-making (rational actor model)? Do you think these are fatal flaws in the realist explanation of decision-making? Why or why not? Relate what you have read to your own methods for making decisions. Be sure to read Bova Ch. 3 thoroughly before responding.

Paper 1
Please submit your paper to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course. Instructions for the paper are posted in the Content area.
Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.

Bova: Chapter 4, pp. 99-121
Snow: Chapters 6 - 7

Discussion 6
Be sure to read Snow 6 & 7 before responding to this question. Why do countries choose to develop nuclear weapons programs? Does recent  experience suggest that pursuit of a nuclear weapon will enhance or detract from a country’s security? Explain. Illustrate your answer with specific examples, such as the cases of North Korea and Iran. The international community recently reached a nuclear agreement with Iran. Does this agreement enhance global security or undermine it?
Discussion 7
Although democracies seem as likely as autocracies to be involved in international conflicts, they do seem less likely to be at war with each other. How do we explain this? Do you think democracies are more peaceful than other systems? Would a world of democracies be a more peaceful place? Why or why not?
Discussion 8
How do you see the future of war? Will it always be with us because states “still care deeply about the balance of power and are destined to compete for power” (Mearsheimer) or will war come to be seen as an outmoded, illegitimate activity, like slavery, as suggested by John Mueller? Justify your answer.
Internet Activity 2
Visit the site of the International Crisis Group. The ICG is a private multinational organization dedicated to understanding and responding to international crises. Their teams of analysts prepare reports about crisis situations around the globe in order to make recommendations to policymakers.  Read about some current international conflicts and answer the assigned questions. Format all citations using APA guidelines.  Submit your assignment to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course.

Bova: Chapter 4, pp. 121-130
Snow: Chapters 5,15, & 16

Discussion 9
Be sure to read Snow, Ch. 16 before answering this question. Scholars and lawyers have developed many definitions of terrorism. How would you define terrorism? In other words, what defines an act as an act of terrorism? What do terrorists seek to accomplish and how have terrorists in the past justified their actions? Is terrorism ever justified? Why or why not?  What are the most effective ways to combat terrorism?
Discussion 10
Be sure to read Snow, Ch. 15 before responding to this question. Under what circumstances should the international community support the secession of a region from a sovereign state? Describe the circumstances of South Sudan's secession from Sudan. Was this secession justified? What challenges does this case illustrate? Research either the case of the Kurds of Iraq or Scotland in the UK. Do you think secession is justified in the case you've chosen?
Discussion 11
Assess the threat of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, to regional and global security. In what ways are Al-Qaeda and ISIS similar organizations and threats? In what ways are they different? How do you think the international community should deal with ISIS. Make use of the supplemental resources for this week and your own research.
Internet Activity 3
This week we will explore some websites related to terrorism and learn about terror groups around the world. Follow the links provided in the Content area and answer the assigned questions. Format all citations using APA guidelines.  Submit your assignment to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course.
Midterm Exam
Please take the proctored Midterm Exam.
Bova: Chapter 5
Snow: Chapters 4 & 8
Discussion 12
Discuss the prospects for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What major issues still divide the parties? What makes these issues so intractable? Among the plans discussed in the text, which do you think are most viable? What role should the U.S. play in fostering peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians? 
Discussion 13
Does the record of international law and the UN do more to support realist or liberal understandings of the promise and limitations of international institutions in promoting international order and cooperation? Justify your answer with specific evidence.  What reforms, if any, do you think would improve the UN’s ability to achieve these goals?
Internet Activity 4

This week we will examine the efforts of UN agencies in conflict areas. Investigate the links provided in the Content area and answer the assigned questions. Format all citations using APA guidelines.

Submit your assignment to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course.

Bova: Chapter 6
Snow: Chapters 3 & 1
Discussion 14
The United States has argued that submitting to decisions of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as agreeing to international treaties such as the Law of the Sea Convention, pose a threat to national sovereignty.  Assess U.S. objections to  either the ICJ, ICC or the Law of the Sea. Are these objections reasonable? How important is American participation to the success of these institutions? If you were the representative of another government, how would you feel about the American position?
Discussion 15
When and how should states intervene in the affairs of other states?  What threshold of violations, such as on human rights, has to be crossed first?  Who should decide when it has been crossed?  Should questions of violating another state’s sovereignty be important concerns when considering intervention?  Is it hypocritical to defend U.S. sovereignty but to ignore the sovereignty of others?  Consider cases such as Iraq (Snow Ch. 1),  Libya (2011) and Syria.
Internet Activity 5
This week we will investigate the role of NGOs involved in promoting human rights. Investigate the links provided in the Content area and answer the assigned questions. Format all citations using APA guidelines.  Submit your assignment to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course.
Paper 2
Feel free to email your paper topic to the instructor for feedback and approval.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
Bova: Chapter 7
Snow: Chapters 9-10, 12
Discussion 16

Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalization. Do you think globalization is a mostly positive or negative phenomenon? Does everyone benefit from globalization? Explain using concrete examples of countries that have benefited or suffered from the globalization phenomenon.

Discussion 17
Consider the following questions concerning free trade: How free should trade be? What kinds of values should it promote? What kind of enforcement mechanism is most desirable? Consider the work of the WTO, for example. Justify your answers using arguments and evidence from class readings (especially Snow Ch. 9) and your own research.
Discussion 18

Discuss challenges of development in poor countries. What strategies are available to help countries develop? In what ways do developed and some developing countries have disagreements on paths to development and the spread of globalization? What do you think are the most promising ways to spread development?  Be sure to read Snow Ch. 12 before answering.

Paper 2
Please submit your paper to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course. Instructions for the paper are posted in the Content area.
Bova: Chapters 8-9
Discussion 19
In what ways do issues, such as the global environment, disease and the internet challenge state sovereignty? Why do some believe that the Westphalian era based on the dominance of the sovereign state is coming to an end? Do you agree with this view or do you think that the state will continue to be the most important actor in international affairs? Explain your answer.
Discussion 20
Chapter 9 in Bova offers several possible scenarios for the future. Which global future described in the chapter do you think is most likely? Why?
Internet Activity 6
Learn about the development goals and activities of the World Bank at http://www.worldbank.org. Answer the questions listed for this week’s internet activity.  Format all citations using APA guidelines.  Submit your assignment to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course by Friday midnight.
Final Exam
Please take the proctored Final Exam.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted. Dropbox assignments will be marked down ½ grade for each day that they are late.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.