About POLS 1500 OL1

Examines the major theories of international relations, important concepts in the study of international relations (such as the balance of power and democratic peace theory), dilemmas leaders face when formulating foreign policies, and current international events. Credit not awarded for both POLS 1500 and POLS 1015.


Asynchronous online

Section Description

This is an exciting time to be studying international relations. There is a great deal of instability. For example, international institutions seem to be in crisis mode. NATO and the EU are experiencing unanticipated political, economic, and social consequences of expansion, including border closings in reaction to a wave of refugees. As a result of a historical referendum, Britain has finally negotiated its withdrawal from the EU – otherwise known as Brexit. The U.S. has withdrawn from critical international agreements including the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris Climate Accord, and the TPP trade deal (Trans-Pacific Partnership). Global powers are asserting or reasserting themselves as the U.S. plays a smaller role in the international community. Russia is asserting itself abroad, most notably in its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, involvement in Syria, and meddling in the US 2016 elections. China continues exert influence as it asserts its financial power abroad through the “Belt and Road Initiative,” which involves investment and infrastructure development in more than 100 countries. Trade is an increasingly controversial topic. While China increases trade networks with Africa, the U.S. imposes tariffs on imported goods from China and Japan. The US and China remain deadlocked in a trade war – or is it a series of trade battles? Wars in Syria and Yemen seem to have no political solution, the Arab-Israeli conflict is ongoing, and political stability continues to evade Afghanistan as the Taliban fight for control of vast swaths of the country. North Korea’s nuclear weapons tests present challenges to the international community but also opportunities for multilateral cooperation. The U.S.-North Korean summit in 2018 was historic; was it a game changer? Yet there are examples of cooperation in this sea of conflict. For example, after decades of mutual hostility and distrust, the US and Cuba are building a relationship marked by the 2015 opening of a US embassy in Havana. In 2018, NAFTA was renegotiated and the USMCA (US, Mexico, Canada Agreement) went into effect. The purpose of this course is to provide you with the theoretical tools necessary to critically analyze the conflict and cooperation that characterize world politics. This course will address a number of important questions regarding how states interact with each other, and how states interact with non-state actors such as the United Nations. We will explore competing explanations for state behavior, such as realism and liberalism, as well as theories addressing the same questions including hegemonic stability theory, international regime theory, and democratic peace theory.

Section Expectation

By the end of the course, students will be able to explain and differentiate between the two dominant theories of international relations: Realism and Liberalism. Students will also be able to identify the premise of hegemonic stability theory, international regime theory, and democratic peace theory. Finally, students will be able to apply Realism and Liberalism to an international event that is characterized by conflict and/or cooperation.


Four or five online multiple-choice/true false exams.

Important Dates

Note: These dates may not be accurate for select courses during the Summer Session.

Courses may be cancelled due to low enrollment. Show your interest by enrolling.

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