Topics Course Descriptions

The topics courses below are typically offered under "Topics in International Relations," INTRL-GA 1731 (4 points) or 1732 (2 points) . Offerings vary from semester to semester.

Course Listing

America and the Arab Uprisings
American Foreign Policy
Branding: Places & Nations
Business Power in IR
Civil War
Communicating Foreign Policy
Contemporary U.S.-China Relations
Democracies at War
The Dialectic of Globalization
Diplomacy Disturbed: Advocacy to Marketing
East Asian Political Economy
Ethics for a Connected World
Geostrategic Issues of Asia in the 21st Century
Global Marketing
Governance in New Democracies
Grand Strategy
Human Rights, Arts & Memory
Ideology & Propaganda
Intellectual Origins of IR Theories
Minority Rights
Multinational Corporations
Nation State & Globalization
Nationalism
Nationalism and Ethnicity
NGOs & Global Politics
Norms & Law in Modern War
Nuclear Weapons in the Modern Era
The Political Impacts of Sports
Political Risk and Prediction
Political Violence
Post-Conflict Justice & Society
Radicalization & Religion
Reality Shocks: Navigating Crises
Selling War (& Peace) in America
Speechwriting and Diplomacy
South Asian Politics & War
US Policy Towards Eastern Europe: 1945 To Today
War and Peace

 


 

Course Descriptions

America and the Arab Uprisings
Daniel Benaim
What caused the political upheaval that swept across the Middle East in 2011? How did political transitions unfold? How did the region respond to the forces these uprisings helped unleash, from intensified sectarian competition to the rise and fall of Islamist political parties? How did international actors, from the Gulf to Washington, respond? Through extensive readings and group discussion, this class will explore these and other issues surrounding the revolutions of 2011.
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American Foreign Policy
Stuart M Gottlieb
This course examines the sources, substance, and enduring themes of American foreign policy. Part I reviews the rise of American power in world affairs from the 18th Century through the end of the Cold War. Part II provides an overview of the process and politics of American foreign policy making. Part III applies the theory and history of Part I, and the process of Part II, to examine a number of contemporary U.S. foreign policy issues and debates, including America’s two wars with Iraq; America’s responses to the threat of global terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and what role the United States should play in the world economy, global and regional institutions, and the developing world.
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Branding: Places & Nations
Ido Aharoni
This course aims to introduce students to the fundamental concepts and principles of non-product branding in the context of managing the reputation and performance of Nations, Cities and places. The course will explore key concepts and terminology in the following fields: marketing, nation branding, place-positioning and public diplomacy. During the course students will be introduced to key-elements in the practice of nation branding through the presentation of various methodologies. The course does not assume any specific previous knowledge of non-product branding. A general familiarity with the idea of places as brands should be a sufficient foundation. The course will serve as an intensive introduction through lectures, case studies, seminar papers and group project-based work. Each course session will explore a different dimension of the subject matter and will provide a practical model for non-product branding.

Business Power in IR
TBA
TBA
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Civil War
Leanne Tyler
This class will examine the domestic and international aspects of internal war. Since 1945, civil conflict has become the most prevalent form of warfare in the international community. The human, political and economic cost of war makes the analyses of these crises essential. For example, according to humanitarian organizations, the fatalities in Syria now exceed 170,000 people, many of whom are women and children. In South Sudan, the mass starvation among the population of this young state has been declared a humanitarian crisis by the United Nations. And weak state infrastructure allows conflict to continue to rage in portions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In this class, students will examine the domestic dynamics of civil wars and how factors such as state strength, economic development, regime type, ethnicity and nationalism serve as important causal mechanisms in the initiation of warfare. Other topics include: the organizational identity and operational capacity of rebel organizations, sexual and gender based violence and debates on civil war termination. The geographic scope of the class is quite large as we will examine the dynamics of post-WWII civil conflicts in regions such as Central America, South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
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Communicating Foreign Policy
Kara Alaimo
This course focuses on how to effectively convey and build support for foreign policy positions, project power, and enhance a country's reputation abroad. Students will learn how to effectively frame messages, cogently communicate complex policy issues, cultivate credibility, and engage with stakeholders such as the media and foreign citizens in order to achieve foreign policy goals, including during national elections and diplomatic incidents. This course prepares students to work in public affairs positions for national governments and international and civil society organizations, as well as to effectively advance policy positions when working in all functions and levels of national governments and international organizations.
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Contemporary U.S.-China Relations
James Nolt
China and the U.S. are the two most influential countries in the world today, so their relationship is crucial to the future of both the world economy and global peace and security. This course will begin with a review of political economy (not presuming students have a strong background in economics or political economy) and then consider the U.S.-China relationship in its economic, political, and security dimensions.
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Democracies at War
Michael John Williams
One of the fundamental arguments in the ‘liberal’ political revolutions of the 18th century was that the cause of war was rooted in the vested interests of the unelected ruling elite. It was a burden forced onto subservient people required to serve their supposedly ‘God-ordained’ monarch. If a free people had a choice, war would be far less frequent since those required to carry the burden of war would have an active vote in the decision to wage war. That said, modern liberal democracies have waged war for centuries now and have become the most adept military powers in the world. Increasingly, democracies seem to be in a near perpetual state of war. How is it, that liberal democracies are so war-prone when theoretically they abhor war? Why are democracies, in particular the United States, increasingly militarized? What are the dangers of technologies that free democracies from the burden of war? Utilizing an eclectic reading list encompassing both scholarly works and popular culture ‘Democracies at War’ examines the paradox of the supposed peace-loving democracy in an age of perpetual war.
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The Dialectic of Globalization
Christian Martin
This course is offered by the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies. For more information, please contact CEMS.
This seminar discusses backlashes against processes of globalization and integration as reactions inherent to these processes. We will analyze the political consequences of economic and political integration as they pertain to the forces that are strengthened through integration. Examples include the rise of left and right-wing populist parties and candidates, the popularity of anti-globalization stances and movements, as well as the political consequences of these backlashes. We are interested both in regional integration arrangements (primarily the European Union) and processes of globalization proper, i.e. multilateral political and economic integration.
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Diplomacy Disturbed: Advocacy to Marketing
Ido Aharoni
In the age of information, social media and self-designed news-feeds old-fashioned diplomacy is increasingly becoming antiquated. Designed in a different era, foreign ministries struggle to adapt and adjust their diplomatic operations to the new technological environment. The seven-session course is structured as an exploration of the challenges governments and Foreign Services engage due to disruptive influences of digital technology, where traditional practices and methodologies are not only challenged by the ever-changing technological environment but also by deep and profound demographic, social, political and economic changes. The class will examine, through several case-studies and real-life examples, how the information revolution brought about a fundamental paradigm shift that affected the goals and methods of traditional diplomacy. The course will explore the impact this revolution has had on the core practice of diplomacy by policy-makers and practitioners. Students will compare conventional diplomatic practices with strategies that challenge tradition and convention, questioning basic notions about the role of diplomats, working to separate perception from what is sustainable, while learning to effectively design new diplomatic practices.
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East Asian Political Economy
James Nolt
East Asia has been the fastest growing region in the world since World War II. This course will start with consideration of Japan’s Miracle after WWII and sluggish growth since the end of the Bubble Economy around 1990. Southeast Asia and the Asian Tigers also industrialized during the postwar period, at first using the development strategy known as import substitution analysis and subsequently by export-led industrialization. We review the accomplishments and problems of these growth strategies and the international context, including U.S. support, that made them possible. By the 1980s, China was taking its first tentative steps toward export-led industrialization and decentralization. Asian growth looked unstoppable until a series of crises, beginning with Japan’s bubble bursting, then the 1997 Asian financial crises, and the impact of the worldwide financial crisis of 2008. Are new crises possible? Can they be moderated or averted by new initiatives toward regional cooperation, some led by the U.S. and some by China? This course does not presume a background in economics, as it focuses more on the policies and politics of development in a national and multilateral perspective.
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Ethics for a Connected World
Joel Rosenthal
We live in a globalized world that challenges us morally. The empirical story of globalization is well documented. The normative story is less clear. This course describes how ethical norms shape expectations and behavior on matters of international scope and concern. Three principles are put forward as a basis for a new “realism:” (1) Pluralism – empathy for diversity while seeking what is common in the human experience; (2) Rights -- protections and entitlements implying corresponding duties and responsibilities; and (3) Fairness – the most extensive liberty compatible with similar liberty for others. Topics for study include war and reconciliation; democracy and its challengers; citizenship and difference; corruption and trust; environment and growth; technology and risk. Each topic is addressed in two parts: a theoretical framework followed by a specific case study. The syllabus employs a "read, watch, listen" technique, featuring key texts accompanied by short videos and brief podcasts. Students will master the central contemporary literature in the growing field of ethics in international affairs. They will improve their critical thinking skills in areas of applied ethics such as just war, business ethics, human rights, and the human relationship to the natural world.
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Geostrategic Issues of Asia in the 21st Century
Mark Fung
This course examines the key geostrategic issues in Asia. Emphasis will be placed on the dynamics of U.S.-China relations. Drawing from experiences at the National Security Council, this course will function, in part, as an NSC directorate meeting where students will play the role of senior director and be tasked to provide an assessment in briefing and memorandum form of an emergent or exigent situation to a hypothetical US president. The ultimate goal of this seminar is to provide an understanding of the functions and instruments of policymaking in the international arena.
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Global Marketing
Giuseppe Ammendola
This course looks at international marketing and its crucial connections with international business practices and with the policy challenges of economic globalization and interdependence. Through lectures, in class training, discussions, and the examination of case studies we look at the interplay of national, international, and global perspectives on marketing research, segmentation and positioning, competition, sourcing, branding, product development, pricing, logistics, and e-commerce. Drawing from political science, economics, business, sociology, psychology, law, and history, we shall examine the marketing challenges faced by decision makers not just in the private but also in the public and nonprofit sectors. The study of marketing within and across frontiers will permit students to deepen their understanding of some of the most powerful actors and forces in the world economy and the current debates concerning them. Most importantly, throughout the course we shall be looking at how lessons drawn from global business practices are applicable to the marketing of governments, nonprofits, places, and people, including ourselves. Overall the teaching is informed by the sharing with students the insights derived from multiple disciplines, cultures, and languages to help them gain valuable real world skills.
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Governance in New Democracies
Mark Schneider
Why do many democracies established since World War II suffer from weak accountability and poor governance? Through lectures and discussion, this course provides an introduction to fundamental challenges that developing democracies face. These include: poverty, party institutionalization, state capacity, corruption, political manipulation of public policies, and ethnic conflict. We also discuss the positive effects that increased competition and information can have in some of these areas. Course readings and lectures cover a range of scholarly approaches and draw upon cases from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
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Grand Strategy
Shinasi Rama
This course is a condensed survey of grand strategy, the purposeful use of all the elements of national power available to a state towards the attainment of security and other policy objectives. It is organized in three parts. In the first part we conduct an overview of the core concepts and the building blocs of the grand strategy. In the second part, we review the core elements of the national power and how they are integrated in the grand strategy. In the last part we focus on a number of cases drawn from ancient history to the present time.
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Human Rights, Arts & Memory
Arnaud Kurze
The objective of this course is to introduce students of international relations (IR) to the politics of human rights, art and memory. Many IR courses on human rights provide an overview of international human rights law and the evolution thereof. However, few courses map the politicization of abuses of civil or political rights in conflict or during authoritarian rule against the backdrop of art as a vector for change. This seminar focuses on a cross regional analysis to explore how different social actors address political violence in the aftermath of atrocities relying on art and how their actions impact society. Some of the questions posed include: 1) How do societies account for wrongdoings and create a collective memory? 2) Why are transition governments and other actors keen on creating their own -- often conflicting -- narratives about the past? 3) What role do international actors, such as non-profit organizations or states, play in this context? In recent years, the use of art -- including visual and performance art but in particular street art and performance activism -- has become a major catalyst of dealing with the past. Yet, the reliance of artistic forms of expression to cope with mass atrocities and human rights violations is far from being a cathartic element. Instead it can also fuel tensions leading to the creation of spaces of contention in transitioning societies. The first part of this course consists of a sociology of politics of human rights; a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the role of art in transition processes; as well as an examination of collective memory against the background of dealing with the past. Part two and three of the course provide a large array of case studies ranging from South America to Southeast Asia, including a selection of countries that were affected by the Arab Spring.
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Ideology & Propaganda
Grid Rroji
What is ideology? How does propaganda work? Is propaganda at the service of ideology or ideology at the service of propaganda? Are the mass media inevitably the vehicle for the propagation of ideologies?
This course proposes to discuss these questions by drawing on political philosophy and history to analyze three fundamental concepts and the ways in which they are connected: ideology, propaganda and communication. It is divided in three parts. The first four sessions focus on the definition of ideology: genealogy, Marxist and neo-Marxist conceptions and study of related concepts. In sessions 5 to 9, we will examine the link between ideology and propaganda and we will study propaganda techniques as used during the 20th century wars. The last part will be dedicated to the analysis of recent controversial questions and critical approaches to media productions and consumption: the end of ideology debate, the phenomenon of public diplomacy, the evolution of anti-Americanism.
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Intellectual Origins of IR Theories
Mehmet Tabak
What are the grounds for the academic claims that we live in an essentially anarchic world in which the primary actors are rational agents, and that these agents are ultimately motivated by self-preservation and/or self-interest? Why do some intellectuals more optimistically believe in the possibility of mutual recognition, cooperation, and benefit? Why do others insist that both domestic and international relations are hierarchical, exploitative, and imperialistic? In short, how do various intellectual traditions explain the motivations that guide individuals and organized communities to participate in political and economic activities? Relatedly, how do they understand political power, and its relationship to economy
Intellectuals of all stripes have been pondering these and other similar questions for centuries. In our times, their insights have crystalized into various theories of international relations, such as realism(s), liberalism(s), and Marxism(s). If so, the contemporary IR theories owe much intellectual debt to their predecessors. Proceeding from this premise, “Intellectual Origins of IR Theories” simultaneously examines the profound insights of the earlier intellectuals, and links these insights to their contemporary variants. The main purpose of this critical examination is to help students gain a more profound appreciation of these theories. Such an appreciation is also a promising step toward an improved understanding of the real world in which we live. In order to successfully attain its aims, this course encourages attentive reading, informed and spirited discussion, and engaged written-responses.

Minority Rights
Bonnie Brennan
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the historical problem of minorities and its contemporary implications. The presence of an ethnic, linguistic or religious minority within the borders of a state obviously has ramifications for nation-building, economic development and the domestic peace. When, however, a violent ethnic conflict involving a minority, particularly a minority related to a kin-state, arises, the conflict can also destabilize an entire region of the world. This course will examine both the domestic and international dimensions of the problem.
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Multinational Corporations
Giuseppe Ammendola
There are over 80,000 Multinational Corporations (MNCs) in the world today. Their role in the complex set of global cross-border flows of goods, services, capital, people, and knowledge is immense. We shall examine the impact that MNCs have on the countries and regions of the world and on the globalization process as suppliers, customers, competitors, employers, shareholders, innovators, recipients and influencers of regulation and in general as political, business, legal and social entities. Through lectures, in-class training, discussions, and the examination of case studies, students will deepen their understanding of some of the most powerful actors and forces in the world economy and the current debates concerning them. More broadly, the course draws lessons from political science, economics, business, law, history, sociology and psychology in order to understand the multiple challenges faced by decision makers not just in the private but also in the public and nonprofit sectors. Overall the teaching is informed by the sharing with students the insights derived from multiple disciplines, cultures, and languages to help them gain valuable real-world skills.
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Nation State & Globalization
Mehmet Tabak
Generally, this course explores how economic globalization is shaped by and, in turn, shapes the domestic and international behavior of states. (a) We will begin the course by considering various established theories of the state and of international political economy. (b) We will then consider some of the important historical, economic, and political circumstances in which economic globalization has intensified in recent decades, and assumed an increasingly neoliberal character. Subsequently, (c) we will examine three important aspects of globalization: production, trade, and financialization. In the last phase of the course, we will study the recent consequences of globalization. More specifically, (d) we will try to understand (d1) the causes of the recent economic crisis; (d2) the impact of globalization and crisis on the wealth of different regions, nations, and classes of individuals; and (d3) the responses of various states to (d). All along, we will reevaluate the material covered under (a).
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Nationalism
Shinasi Rama
Nationalism was a common cause of conflict in international politics of past two centuries. Yet, the intensification and the vengeful resurgence of nationalist conflicts in the post- Cold War era have been most unexpected and surprising for policy-makers and scholars alike. The increasing frequency and deadliness of nationalist conflict at the international and the intra- state level, from mass expulsions to state-sponsored genocide, has prompted international and humanitarian interventions that have challenged time-honored norms of state behavior and its integrity. However, despite widespread recognition amongst intellectuals and policymakers of the virulent resurgence of nationalism, there is a widespread lack of consensus on the meaning and origins of, as well as the management strategies for dealing with, nationalist conflict. To many, nationalism appears just an amorphous and protean form of organization that is difficult to be defined, described and controlled.
Most of the literature for this course will be drawn from the contemporary debates on nation and international relations theory and practice, intentionally fusing together theory and case studies. However, while emphasis will be placed on achieving a better understanding of theoretical interpretations and frameworks for action, we will take good care to examine a number of case studies in a variety of contexts. This will familiarize us with the repertoire of strategies, justifications, and practices used by all actors. We will do so through assigned readings, but also by following events and conflict that unfold during this semester.
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Nationalism and Ethnicity
Shinasi Rama
Nationalism and ethnicity remain a common cause of conflict in international politics of past two centuries. Yet, the intensification and the vengeful resurgence of nationalist and ethnic conflicts in the post-Cold War era have been most unexpected and surprising for policy-makers and scholars alike. The increasing frequency and deadliness of nationalist conflict at the international and the intra-state level, from mass expulsions to state-sponsored genocide, has prompted international and humanitarian interventions that have challenged time-honored norms of state behavior and its integrity. However, despite widespread recognition amongst intellectuals and policymakers of the virulent resurgence of nationalism, there is a widespread lack of consensus on the meaning and origins of, as well as the management strategies for dealing with, nationalist and ethnic conflict. To many, nationalism appears just an amorphous and protean form of organization that is difficult to be defined, described and controlled.
Most of the literature for this course will be drawn from the contemporary debates on nation, ethnicity and international relations theory and practice, intentionally fusing together theory and case studies. However, while emphasis will be placed on achieving a better understanding of theoretical interpretations and frameworks for action, we will take good care to examine a number of case studies in a variety of contexts. This will familiarize us with the repertoire of strategies, justifications, and practices used by all actors. We will do so through assigned readings, but also by following events and conflict that unfold during this semester.
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NGOs & Global Politics
Christine Wing
This course explores how NGOs and social movements can and do affect global political dynamics. We will pursue this topic primarily through case studies in four substantive areas: human rights; apartheid in South Africa; the international arms trade; and the end of the Cold War.
In the first three weeks of the course, we will attempt to develop (1) working definitions of “NGOs,” “social movements,” and “global politics;” (2) an understanding of how NGOs and social movements have emerged and how they have evolved; and (3) initial ideas about the challenges facing NGOs and social movements as their work engages global political dynamics and interests.
The next eight weeks will be devoted to case studies. We will spend two weeks on each of the topics noted above. We will learn about the substantive issue and the NGOs/movements that work on that issue; analyze the mechanisms through which these NGOs/movements are functioning in the international arena; and evaluate the effectiveness of their work.
In the final three classes, we will take what we have learned and use it to analyze another area of NGO and movement activism—environmental change. We will also hear students’ presentations of their research project.
Readings—both theoretical and case studies—will draw on a range of literature, including political science, historical analysis, and the study of organizational behavior. Students will write short papers on the readings, and develop a sample plan for organizing an NGO whose work has effects at the global level. A final research paper will also be required.
For questions, please contact the instructor at chris.wing@nyu.edu.
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Norms & Law of Modern War
Anna Di Lellio
Is cyberspace a battlefield? If so, how do norms and laws that govern war provide guidance for defense or retaliation in cyber-conflict? These are urgent questions arising from changes in both patterns of organized violence and the reaction to them, in the context of contemporary wars. Not all changes are necessarily “new,” but they have the potential to evolve into new norms, providing ample opportunities for challenging the widely accepted foundations of ethics in war, on which customary international law is based.For example, within the paradigm of asymmetric warfare, of which “the global war on terror” is one case, exceptional responses to existential threats have argued for violating the prohibition to torture; have questioned traditional understandings of noncombatant immunity, and of human shields; have challenged the taboo of assassination, by stressing the precision afforded by targeted killings; and have used new technologies intended to protect lives, such as drones, to redefine standards of proportionality. On another note, an emerging practice of humanitarian interventions has been struggling to become a norm, challenging definitions of legality and/or legitimacy of aggression.
This course aims to provide an understanding of the dynamic relationship between laws, norms and practices in contemporary warfare, beyond the classic argument of realism - i.e. interest and power always trump ethics – and beyond a static understanding of the rules of conduct in wars. It addresses the role of norms as well as interests, and norm entrepreneurs such as states and non–state actors, through a mix of theoretical discussions and case-studies.
For example, the global “war on terror” argues for exceptional responses to existential threats, reevaluating the normally accepted notion of the equality of combatants; new technologies intended to protect lives, such as drones, redefine standards of proportionality; asymmetric wars, often intra-state, question traditional understandings of noncombatant immunity; and humanitarian interventions challenge definitions of legality and/or legitimacy of aggression.
The focus of this course is to provide an understanding of the gap between laws, norms and practices of war, beyond the classic argument of realism - - i.e. interest and power always trump ethics – and beyond a static understanding of the rules of conduct in wars. It addresses the dynamic role of norms as interests, and norm entrepreneurs such as states and non–state actors, through a mix of theoretical discussions and case-studies.
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Nuclear Weapons in the Modern Era
Christine Wing
The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to the role of nuclear weapons in global politics. It is designed for master’s degree candidates in the field of international relations.. All of the material is accessible to students who do not have a technical background.
Since the early 1990s, nuclear weapons and nuclear doctrine have significantly influenced political relations among the five major nuclear weapons states. However, the nature of those relationships changed substantially after the early 1990s, when a defining rivalry—the bilateral US-Soviet nuclear arms race—took on new form.
The two decades following the end of the Cold War demonstrated considerable nuclear cooperation between the United States and Russia. But at the same time, growing knowledge about nuclear proliferation by smaller states, as well as the 9/11 attacks, introduced a new global politics of nuclear weapons—with ramifications that go beyond great power relations. Recently, tensions between Russia and the United States—as well as both states’ relationships with China—may be fueling a more rancorous environment for reducing nuclear weapons threats.
It is hoped that this course will help students understand this rapidly challenging context for nuclear weapons development and use, and the ways in which nuclear policies are newly shaping the field on which all states interact.
In the first week of the course we will discuss the underlying technology of nuclear weapons production and use. In weeks two and three, we will look in greater depth at three key questions that drive much of the debate about nuclear weapons in the early 21st century: (1) Is nuclear proliferation inevitable? (2) Should states put major resources into defending against nuclear terrorism? and (3) Is there a new nuclear arms race?
Requirements of the course are to do all readings on time, come to class prepared to discuss those readings, and to participate in class discussion. In addition there will be a final in-class exam, plus three very short writing assignments.
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The Political Impact of Sports
Kevin Davis
For many of us, sport is an escape from politics and the daily realities we face. But for others, sport literally is a matter of life and death, when used for example, as a means of overcoming a totalitarian government’s laws against freedom of association. Of course, for some of those same totalitarian regimes, it is a means of projecting a message or political statement, or a way of “cleansing” a tarnished and unwanted image. For some it is the only pathway for social mobility, while it can also be used as a tool to maintain and perpetuate social, ethnic and racial divisions. This course explores the complex relationship between sport and international relations, the battleground of the 21st century in many respects.
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Political Risk & Prediction
Maha Aziz
Would you like to have a more holistic understanding of current affairs, identify a growing political risk in your country or predict the next major flashpoint in international relations? This course will help you develop the qualitative and analytical skills to do exactly that. You’ll also have the opportunity to work on a political analysis project for the world’s first crowdsourced consultancy, Wikistrat, and big data analytics startup, Epistema. By the end of the semester, you will have honed your qualitative analysis skills, which will serve you well in your career as an analyst at a policy think tank (e.g. CFR, USIP), political analysis firm (e.g. Eurasia Group, Oxford Analytica), research division at a bank (e.g. Citigroup) or government agency (e.g. State Dept). Past class projects included a two-week Wikistrat project on Pakistan's political risks and futures, that led to a Huffington Post-World Post blog on what shock events might lead to the country's fourth military coup; and a one-week project evaluating the Rohingya Muslim minority as a risk factor in southern Asia. Past guest speakers have included British Petroleum's Group Political Adviser Dr Tom Wales, Independent Geopolitical Consultant Milena Rodban and Myanmar expert (and NYU MA IR graduate) Niels Huby.
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Political Violence
Linda Kirschke
This course will address the causes and consequences of intra-state and interstate violence. It will examine issues surrounding identity, economic factors, armed and criminal groups, civilian casualties, terrorism, state violence and state collapse. It will present debates on international and regional military intervention and counter-terrorism strategy. Empirical material will include case studies on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Algeria, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Georgia and the former Yugoslavia.
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Post-Conflict Justice and Society
TBA
TBA
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Radicalization & Religion
Colette Mazzucelli
Cultural values, particularly religious ones, as well as emotions are underestimated in analyses that emphasizes rational decision-making. Some of the deepest yearnings in human beings can be of critical importance in sustaining what are defined in the literature as "intractable" social conflicts. Strict cost-benefit calculations figure prominently in instrumental decision-making pertaining to goals with adjustments necessary should the costs be too high to achieve specific objectives. What analysts may term "culturally sacred" values are less sensitive to calculations of cost and benefit - a fact ignored in Realpolitik explanations. This course investigates the issues pertaining to religious values and the limits of rational choice with specific focus on the ways in which culturally sacred values in support of political violence are spreading across terrorist groups. In conjunction with NYU's on-going participation in the Peer 2 Peer (P2P) campaign, organized in cooperation with the US Department of State, this course assess the ways in which countering such values with alternative value interpretations can eliminate or mitigate terrorist violence. The course also examines the extent to which religious values sustain clashes between political cultures.
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Reality Shocks: Navigating Crises
Kevin Davis
Using a fictitious state, and from the perspective of its multiple religious, ethnic, political and class stakeholders, this interactive course will invite students to participate in policy-making decisions, as it encounters a series of internal and external shocks. Each week, from their assigned position as one of its various stakeholders, students will be expected to present their policy responses to weekly introduced internal/external shock(s), encountered both inside and outside our state. These new shocks, along with new stakeholder assignments, will be announced at the end of each class. The shocks our state will contend with will include military, religious-political, and economic issues, both regional and global in nature. Over the course of the semester, high ranking decision-makers from the worlds of business, finance and politics will join the class to explain how they dealt with major shocks that they were confronted with. Students will be required to write a one page (maximum) bullet point position paper, from which they will be expected to advocate policy or action/inaction from the particular vantage point they have been assigned. By the end of the semester, they will have represented the interests of multiple different perspectives and , in so doing, learned the importance of viewing each conflict from all sides. Students will be encouraged to use both supporting real-life data/evidence, as well as relevant political theory, where appropriate.

Selling War (& Peace) in America
Reid Cherlin & Daniel Kurtz-Phelan
Foreign policy may be driven by strategic thinking, but it is sold—and critiqued—in words: speeches, National Security Council memos, diplomatic cables, editorials, even talking points. This seminar will explore the language of persuasion as it is actually applied in America’s debates around war and its politics. The course will use hands-on assignments to give students the experience of engaging in those debates under the guidance of two practitioners who have done so—in the White House Situation Room, on the campaign trial, and in the media.
We’ll make our way through the major international upheavals from the outbreak of World War II to the contemporary Middle East, examining how language shaped the course of events—and how different arguments might have brought different outcomes. It is our goal here to immerse ourselves in the practical realities of how these debates over war are lost and won.
We’ll explore the debates around important turning points of the last century, from the atomic bomb, to Vietnam and Iraq. Our final meeting will focus on the collapse in the Middle East and our stance toward future conflicts in the region. Each meeting of the seminar will focus on one event or time period; two or three students will be responsible for writing up and presenting the case for one of that event’s major arguments. At the course’s end, students will produce final 10-page papers in the form of a policy memorandum to a 2016 presidential candidate.
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Speechwriting and Diplomacy
Daniel Benaim
How do you write a great foreign policy speech? From research to rhetoric, this course will explore a range of techniques that speechwriters use to craft memorable messages for the international stage. Through intensive study of historic and contemporary speeches, drawing on the instructor’s experience as foreign policy speechwriter at the White House, State Department, and U.S. Senate, the course will teach students to craft and critique the language of international affairs. Weekly writing, reading, and listening assignments and discussion, as well as guest lectures from seasoned practitioners, will help students to find a speechwriting voice and generate a portfolio of writings on subjects of interest. Note: permission code needed to enroll, please contact ir.masters@nyu.edu with brief statement on your interests and goals for taking the course.
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South Asian Politics & War
Maha Aziz
This course is for MA IR students who want to become experts on South Asia or develop an additional regional specialty. You will learn about the individual politics of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal as well as the regional and international politics of South Asia. Through this investigation, you will then understand where we can expect conflict domestically and regionally. Where will South Asia face war today and in the next 10 years? How can state (eg superpowers) and non-state actors (eg UN, civil society groups, citizens) prevent such conflict? You will devise policy strategies to reduce such threats. You will cultivate your research, analysis, writing, strategic thinking skills, while developing country/region-specific expertise through your coursework. This will prepare you well for any South Asia-related work in your careers, whether as an analyst at a policy think tank (e.g. CFR, RAND), political analysis firm (e.g. Stratfor, Oxford Analytica), research division at a bank (e.g. Citigroup) or government agency (e.g. US State Dept). This lecture and discussion-based course will also include a class project on a South Asian topic for Professor Aziz's Observer or HuffPost blog.
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U.S. Policy Towards Eastern Europe: 1945 to Today
Damian Leader
This course will examine U.S. policy toward Eastern Europe since 1945, focusing on positions since 1989 that set the stage for today’s conflicts. The borderlands between modern Germany and Russia have been contested among empires, peoples and religions for a millennium and the struggle for political and military control of these borderlands sparked both World Wars. After the post-Yalta division of Europe, this area became a central focus of Cold War rivalry using all forms of traditional and public diplomacy. The end of the Soviet Union, the fall of communist regimes in former-Warsaw Pact countries, the re-creation of independent countries in post-Soviet space, and the enlargement of NATO and the EU set the stage for today’s conflicts in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. This class will explore policy successes and failures toward this volatile area, drawing on both diplomatic and cultural sources to discover what policy approaches might work best in the future.
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War and Peace
Amy Catalinac
How do actors and institutions influence states' decisions for war or peace? Which actors and institutions matter more, those located at the domestic or international level? This course aims to familiarize students with the major paradigms in international relations and the actors and institutions highlighted in those paradigms as being particularly consequential for states' security policies. Sessions will be comprised of student-led presentations that summarize the material we have read and generate discussion of the research designs, findings, and methodologies employed therein, as well as their application to contemporary security policy challenges. The course aims to equip students with the necessary tools to conduct research on foreign security policy, complete a final research paper, and deliver a presentation to the class summarizing their findings.
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