International Futures: Example Syllabus

Spring 1997

W. J. Dixon

Political Science 454/554

ECON 400 Office: 314C Social Sciences

Tues/Thur, 11:00-12:15 Hours: Tues, Wed, 1:00-3:30

Theories of International Relations



Theories of International Relations is an advanced course intended to introduce students to a sampling of conceptual approaches, theories, and models constructed by scholars to help interpret and make sense of international relations. Theories are essential congnitive tools used by all of us every day to observe and participate in the world around us, yet most people are oblivious to them and their underlying assumptions. Your instructor's fundamental assumption in teaching this course is that theories deserve to be better understood and appreciated.

Although much of the course will follow the traditional lecture format, approximately one-third of the semester will be devoted to working with a computer model simulating the global future. The computer program used to run the simulation will be demonstrated in class and time will be set aside for students to work with the program at their own pace. Nevertheless, most students will find it necessary to work with the model outside of class as well, either in the SBS Instructional Computing Lab (224 Social Sciences) or on a home computer.

It bears reiterating that the emphasis of this course is theory, not current international events. However, to best understand the utility of theory and to get the most out of this course it is imperative that students maintain a continuing awareness of the international events shaping our world by reading one of the major national newspapers (e.g., New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post) on a regular basis. Note that daily subscription to the New York Times is available on campus for a very attractive discount.


The general goal of this course is to familiarize students with the role of theoretical thinking in international relations. Toward this end, the course has several specific educational objectives. Upon successful completion of the course, students are expected to:

think about international relations beyond the level of the specific event;

observe the world with an appreciation for broad enduring patterns of behavior;

understand the role of theory in bringing order and understanding to complex phenomena;

grasp the importance of implicit assumptions and of individual and cultural values in shaping our understanding of the world;

be familiar with different levels of theorizing in international relations;

understand the distinction and interconnection between normative theory and empirical theory;

appreciate the utility and limits of computer simulation as a theoretical tool.


As you know, your instructor is required by University policy to evaluate each student's performance at semester's end. In order to make this evaluation as fair as possible it is essential that students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their mastery of the material. Accordingly, there will be two examinations each covering approximately one-third of the course, one short simulation assignment, and one short (i.e., approximately 10 page) paper reporting simulation results. The first exam will be held during regularly scheduled class time on February 13. The second exam is to be given outside of class and is due on March 13 at 11:00 a.m. The simulation paper is due on May 6 at 11:00 a.m.

Final Grades. Each examination and the paper will contribute 30% to your final course grade; the simulation exercise will comprise the remaining 10%. No extra credit or other compensatory work will be applied to the compilation of final course grades. There will be no exceptions to this policy.

Missed Exams. Both examinations are required for all students so please plan your semester accordingly. In the case of some unavoidable commitment known in advance you must inform the instructor of the conflict in writing at least one week in advance of the scheduled exam. In the case of an emergency situation you should inform the instructor by e-mail or telephone prior to the scheduled exam. (Messages can be left at 621-7600.)

Late Papers. Late papers will be penalized one-half letter grade for each day they are late. A paper is counted as late after the specified date and time listed on the syllabus.

Academic Integrity. All students are expected to be familiar with and to abide by the rules and principles specified in the University of Arizona Code of Academic Integrity.

Graduate Credit. Students enrolled in the course for graduate credit (i.e., under POL 554) will complete all requirements listed above and write a term paper to be submitted no later than the last day of class. The topic of the paper must be approved by the instructor no later than April 13. The term paper will comprise 50% of the final grade for graduate credit with the remaining 50% based on the examinations and short papers listed above.


Class attendance is not formally recorded, though it is strongly encouraged. This is so for two reasons. First, students who are chronically absent invariably do poorly on examinations. Second, it is highly unlikely students missing sessions on the simulation will be able to complete the required paper assignment.

If your absence from class is unavoidable then you are advised to obtain lecture notes from another student. The instructor will not provide you notes for missed classes. Also be aware that lectures are given only once-they will not be summarized during office hours. This also applies to information on running the simulation that was covered in class. Finally, as a courtesy to other students please avoid disrupting the class by arriving late or leaving early if at all possible.


Feb 13: Exam I in class

Mar 13: Exam II due at 11:00 a.m.

May 6: Simulation paper due at 11:00 a.m.

May 6: Last day of class


Required reading for this course is fairly light. The three books listed below available for purchase at the campus bookstore.

Hughes, Barry B. 1996. International Futures, 2nd Ed. Boulder: Westview Press.

Kegley, Charles W. 1995. ed. Controversies in International Relations Theory. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Lebow, Richard Ned and Thomas Risse-Kappen, 1995. eds. International Relations Theory and the End of the Cold War. New York: Columbia University Press.


I. Grand Theories: Realism and Neoliberalism

A. Theoretical Foundations

Kegley, "The Neoliberal Challenge..." pp. 1-24 in Kegley.

Holsti, "Theories of International Relations..." pp. 25-34 in Kegley.

Zacher and Mathew, "Liberal International Theory..." pp. 107-150 in Kegley.

Grieco, "Anarchy and the Limits..." pp. 151-171 in Kegley.

B. Peace and Conflict

Doyle, "Liberalism and World Politics..." pp. 83-106 in Kegley.

Onuf and Johnson, "Peace in the Liberal World..." pp. 179-198 in Kegley.

Johansen, "Swords into Plowshares..." pp. 253-280 in Kegley.

Richardson, "International Trade..." pp. 281-294 in Kegley.

C. International Organization and Law

Rochester, "The United Nations..." pp. 199-222 in Kegley.

Hughes, "Evolving Patterns..." pp. 223-243 in Kegley.

Starr, "International Law..." pp. 253-280 in Kegley.

Rossenthal, "Rethinking the Moral Dimensions..." pp. 317-329 in Kegley.

Feb 13: Exam I in class

II. Theory and the End of the Cold War

A. Theories, Explanations, and the Cold War

Lebow and Risse-Kappen, "pp. 1-22 in Lebow and Risse-Kappen.

B. Structural Theories

Lebow, "The Long Peace..." pp. 23-56 in Lebow and Risse-Kappen.

Oye, "Explaining the End..." pp. 57-84 in Lebow and Risse-Kappen.

Doyle, "Liberalism..." pp. 85-108 in Lebow and Risse-Kappen.

Snyder, "Myths, Modernization..." pp. 109-126 in Lebow and Risse-Kappen.

C. Nonstructural Theories

Kolsowski and Kratochwil, "Understanding Change..." pp. 127-166 in Lebow and Risse-Kappen.

Lebow, "The Search for Accommodation..." pp. 167-186 in Lebow and Risse-Kappen.

Risse-Kappen, "Ideas Do Not Float Freely..." pp. 187-222 in Lebow and Risse-Kappen.

Stein, "Political Learning..." pp. 223-258 in Lebow and Risse-Kappen.

Herrmann, "Conclusions..." pp.259-284 in Lebow and Risse-Kappen.

March 13: Exam II due at beginning of class

March 10-14: Spring Break

III. Theories and Models of the Future

A. Thinking and Theorizing About the Future

Ray, "Promise or Peril..." pp. 335-355 in Kegley.

Hughes, chaps. 1-4

B. Sustainable Progress

Hughes, chap. 5

C. Economic Well-Being

Hughes, chap. 6

D. Security and Peace

Hughes, chaps. 7-8

May 6: Simulation papers due at beginning of class

May 6: Last day of class

International Futures Homework Assignments

Note: Lab sessions are scheduled in room 134 Social Sciences for the following dates: Thursday, April 3; Thursday, April 10; Thursday, April 17; and Tuesday, April 22.

Assignment 1: due Tuesday, April 8

You are to compare IFs' "base case" literacy rate projections for Latin America and the USA. To complete this task you need not Change any parameter or Run the simulation. Choose Display from the main menu, then from SelectVariables choose Standard Subset. Next identify the variables to display by selecting USA from the Regions/Countries column and Literacy from the Regional/Country Variables column. Repeat this step for Latin America by first selecting LatAm. Next Exit to Display and confirm your selections by verifying that Lit[0]/USA and Lit[0]/LatAm appear at the bottom. Examine the results as both a LineGraph and a Table.

Write a brief paragraph describing the graphical display of literacy rates. You should use the information in the table to specify the literacy rates observed for 1992 and the year that each literacy rate reaches 100. (Note: Please help us conserve paper; it is not necessary to print out either the table or the graph to complete this assignment.)

Assignment 2: due Tuesday, April 15

You are to increase Latin American education expenditures in order to improve literacy rates. This task will involve four steps.

A. First, identify a parameter to change. Select Change and Standard Subset from the main menu. Next scroll down the top window to GK - Government expenditure shares by destination. Select GK, then choose LatAm from the country list and Education from the expenditure list. Now in the Change Values window, confirm your selections by verifying that GK/LatAm/Education appears at the bottom.

B. Second, change the parameter. The current value is about 7% (actually 7.473433% expressed in scientific notation). We want to raise this to 14% over a 10 year period beginning in the year 2000. To do this, first continue the initial value to the year 1999 by entering 7 in the Repeat/Interpolate Years box and selecting Repeat. Next change the Repeat/Interpolate Years to 10, enter .14 (as a decimal, not a percentage) in the Final Interpolation Value box, and select Interpolate. Now carry this new value out 50 more years by entering 50 in the Repeat/Interpolate Years box and selecting Repeat. Finally, Exit to Main Menu.

C. Third, run the model. Select Run from the main menu. Next enter 50 as the number of years the model will run, and select the Start Run button. Wait.

D. Fourth, display your results. Unlike assignment #1, you must now examine results from two files--the base case and your new run. As before, enter Display, SelectVariables, and Standard Subset. Note that Display defaults to the Working File which contains your change. Select LatAm and Literacy. Next select Change Files to get the base case. Select LatAm and Literacy again, and then select USA and Literacy. Return to Display and confirm your selections by verifying that Lit[0]/LatAm, Lit[1]/LatAm, and Lit[1]/USA appear at the bottom (the order is irrelevant). You are now ready to examine the results of your change using a line graph and a table.

Write a brief description of the change you made and what difference it made in Latin American literacy rates following the same general format as in assignment #1. Also, examine GDP per capita for Latin America (not USA) under the base case and your change, and describe what differences you see. This involves the same procedure as before but requires you to choose a different variable. (Again, please help us conserve paper by not printing out your graphs or tables.)