Introduction to International Relations Theory and Diplomacy

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Muzas, Brian K., PhD
syllabus description
This course is designed to introduce students to the major theoretical traditions of international relations and diplomacy. We will begin with a critical investigation of the competing assumptions and concepts that form the heart of various or maybe traditional theoretical approaches to the study of world politics. As a class we will discuss the key actors, processes, and variables highlighted by each theory, and assess their relative strengths and weaknesses. Throughout this investigation, we will consider various theoretical tradeoffs relating to the issues such as levels of analysis, parsimony versus accuracy, and the types of research questions being addressed. There is an important underlying goal of the course: to provide students with an opportunity to improve their ability to engage in critical analysis. As a result, the course will be centered on the examination of competing theoretical perspectives. It is expected that students will use this course to develop further three sets of skills: the ability to read complex material both quickly and effectively; the ability to write cogent analysis and include independent thinking; and the ability to speak, drawing on persuasive and reasoned oral arguments.