Spring 2016

Welcome to Introduction to International Relations, Government 155, with Professor Mike Nelson

Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:10-2:30p

Location: TBA



“The element of truth which people are so ready to disavow, is that men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved, and who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness.”
Sigmund Freud in Civilization and its Discontents

Why does war occur? Is Freud’s quote above right about human nature? Does an aggressive human nature lead us to war? Or does war occur because some types of states, perhaps fascist ones, are more prone to war? Or because of some greater general uncertainty underlying the anarchy of world order? Is world government the solution? Is it possible or even desirable? Can states cooperate to solve global environmental problems like climate change? This course addresses such questions in its survey of the field of international relations. The first part introduces three major theoretical traditions and their applications to world events over the last century. The rest of the course will consist of study cycles that focus on several important issues in global politics, including: humanitarian intervention, America’s current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the political economy of poverty and development and the global governance of climate change.

By the end of this course…

  1. You will know more about important problems in world politics from the past, the present and the future and why they are directly relevant to our everyday lives.
  2. You will understand and be able to evaluate several major theoretical approaches to world politics.
  3. You will be able to think and argue critically about issues in international relations and convey your thoughts in written form. Not every one of you plan to continue in a career in international relations, but the same skills we stress in this class-critical thinking, analytical reading, and writing-will be important no matter what you do.

Asst. Professor Mike Nelson
Public Affairs Center 417
mbnelson – at – wesleyan.edu

Office Hours: TBA


Not enrolled, but want to get in this course? Please follow the instructions on the linked form below and return the form to me by email.

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