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Arts and Sciences Learning Objectives

International Relations

The International Relations (IR) major aims to provide an interdisciplinary – but also coherent and rigorous – undergraduate education in international affairs. All of the courses in our curriculum fulfill one or more of the requirements outlined below, and as such contribute to our aim of providing competency in the following three areas:

  1. Students should display oral and written proficiency in a language other than their native language.

  2. Students should be able to use fundamental concepts in the study of international relations. The fundamental concepts include:

    • The major philosophical, theoretical and methodological approaches of the study of international relations from the perspective of political science including nationalism, sovereignty, power, conflict and interdependence.

    • Economic analysis of commercial arrangements including trade, finance, development, comparative economic systems, health and the environment.

    • The role of identities, values and prejudices that are the product of historical processes and the interaction of different peoples.

    • Meta-narratives and theoretical frameworks for analyzing issues of cultural, religious and political life within societies and between political communities.

  3. Students should be able to apply the fundamental concepts of the study of international relations to a specific sub-field within international relations. Subfields include:

    • Regional and comparative analysis from an historical, political economic and cultural perspective

    • International economics including trade, finance, the environment and development

    • Global health, nutrition and the environment

    • International security

    • Globalization

    • Identity

Core Requirements (5 Courses)

The Core Requirements constitute the shared foundation of knowledge that is needed by all IR majors, regardless of thematic concentration. They are comprised of broad introductory courses that cover the major themes and debates within individual disciplines on the study of international affairs. Students must complete a course in each of the five core requirements in order to attain sufficient mastery of the IR Program's major constituent disciplines.

  • Core Requirement 1 – Introduction to International Relations (PS 61): PS 61 presents the major philosophical, theoretical, and methodological approaches to the study international relations from the perspective of political science.
  • Core Requirement 2 – Principles of Economics (EC 5): EC 5 introduces students to the fundamentals of microeconomic and macroeconomic analysis, a necessary prerequisite for the further study of international economics.
  • Core Requirement 3 – International Economics: A core course in international economics is a broad and introductory course that acquaints students with the evaluation of international commercial arrangements. The main areas addressed include trade, finance, development, comparative, and environmental economics, but attention is also given to economic history, philosophy, and strategic analysis where relevant to analysis of international relations.
  • Core Requirement 4 – The Historical Dimension: A core course in the historical dimension is a broad and introductory course that serves to emphasize the way international relations are deeply grounded in identities, values, and prejudices that are themselves the products of long historical processes and the interaction of different peoples.
  • Core Requirement 5 – Theories of Society and Culture: A core course in theories of society and culture is a broad and introductory course that provides meta-narratives and theoretical frameworks for analyzing enduring issues of cultural, religious, and political life both within societies and between political communities. It focuses on the normative considerations – such as the role of the individual in the community, views on the meaning and highest forms of human existence, and the relationship between the government and the governed – that are necessary for a well-rounded understanding of international relations.

Thematic Concentration (7 Courses)

The Thematic Concentrations are designed to provide students with a substantial, in-depth, and focused study of one aspect of international affairs. All students must select one Thematic Concentration (or sub-concentration) and take a total of seven courses in it, distributed across the disciplines. In order that the knowledge gained be cumulative, moreover, no more than three of these courses may be an introductory-level course, and at least one must be a capstone research course (senior seminar, directed research, or senior honors thesis). We offer six Thematic Concentrations:

  • Thematic Concentration 1 – Regional and Comparative Analysis: This consists of five sub-concentrations, each focusing on a major geographic region outside the United States: (a) Europe & the former Soviet Union; (b) East and Southeast Asia; (c) Africa; (d) Middle East and South Asia; (e) Latin America.
  • Thematic Concentration 2 – International Economics: The sub-concentrations here are (a) international trade; (b) international finance; (c) international environmental economics; (d) international development economics.
  • Thematic Concentration 3 – Global Health, Nutrition, and the Environment: This concentration addresses the conceptual connections between issues of global health, nutrition, the environment, and sustainable development as they relate to international affairs.
  • Thematic Concentration 4 – International Security: This concentration focuses on the causes and consequences of war and the conditions for peace, issues that lie at the heart of the multidisciplinary study of international relations
  • Thematic Concentration 5 – Globalization: This concentration focuses on focuses on the spread of ideas through global practices and behaviors such as human rights, migration, urbanization, media, technology, empires and colonialism, and the study of culture.
  • Thematic Concentration 6 – Identity: This concentration focuses on how individuals perceive themselves in their relationships to the world through prisms such as gender, class, religion, race, nationality, and ethnicity.

Language Requirement

Majors in International Relations must display oral and written proficiency in a foreign language. The level of proficiency required is eight semesters or the equivalent.

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