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Descriptions for the courses I teach at Fordham University are listed below. Please contact me for full syllabi.
- United Nations (POSC-3522): This course provides students with a theoretical introduction to the study of international organizations in general and a substantive introduction to the politics, practices, and major ideas and issues that surround the United Nations in particular. The course is divided into three parts, each of which takes up a different dimension of the UN: first, we ask: Where did the United Nations come from? And what can we learn about international organizations and global processes of cooperation and conflict from a study of the United Nations System? Second, we turn to what the United Nations (UN) is, investigating the agencies, bodies, states, and actors that constitute the UN system. Finally, we ask, what does the UN do in the world? Here, we examine the functions, tasks, and activities of the UN and its constituent parts, focusing on five specific areas in which the UN works: the maintenance of international peace and security; human rights and international justice; economic and social development; climate and health; and humanitarian aid and assistance. The goal of this course is for you to think and speak critically about pressing issues in international politics, and then to apply the arguments you will encounter in the course to other cases and questions. The tools and ideas you develop and acquire in this course should enhance both your understanding of theoretical concepts in political science and your understanding of critical issues in contemporary foreign policy debates.
- The Politics of Humanitarian Intervention (POSC-4526): From Rwanda to Iraq to Syria, political decisions about when, how, and whether to intervene in other countries’ affairs have been framed in humanitarian terms. Why, when, and with what effect do states intervene in the affairs of other states for humanitarian reasons? Who intervenes? What is the responsibility of the international community to people whose governments cannot or will not protect them from war, famine, diseases, and human rights abuses? This course is divided into three sections: (1) Why intervene? (2) Who intervenes? (3) What are the consequences of intervention? It provides students with an overview of the politics of humanitarian intervention, and it asks you to consider a variety of perspectives on the feasibility, effectiveness, ethics, and altruism of protecting civilians with force. The course readings span a number of geographic regions, but we will revisit interventions in Rwanda, the Balkans, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo throughout the semester. This seminar takes up these questions with an in-depth examination of the international relations and comparative politics literature on international organizations, peacekeeping, civil war, and humanitarianism. The goal of the course is to familiarize you with literature on international organizations, peacekeeping, civil war, and humanitarianism as they relate to the scholarly and policy debates on the politics of humanitarian intervention, to help you explore the motivations for intervention, and to make you evaluate its ambiguities and long-term effects.
- Introduction to International Politics (POSC-2501): The study of international relations is the systematic, rigorous study of how states (countries) interact with one another. Are the relations between countries inherently conflictual or inherently cooperative? Why do countries go to war with one another? When do they work with one another to trade for economic benefit? Can they solve collective problems like global warming? How can we explain the continued scourge of conflict and genocide despite human rights movements and the existence of global institutions like the United Nations? What are the causes and consequences of terrorism? Why and how do weapons of mass destruction proliferate? How should we understand and react to the rise of new superpowers in the international system? Can economic globalization improve people’s lives? Scholars of international politics try to answer these core questions about politics and the world by investigating the causes and consequences of conflict, cooperation, and change between states. This course provides students with an overview of the major theories, topics, and approaches to studying international relations. Its overarching objective is for you to think, write, and speak critically about pressing issues in international politics, and then to apply the arguments you will encounter to other cases and questions. The tools and ideas you develop and acquire in this course should enhance your understanding of theoretical concepts in political science and your understanding of critical issues in contemporary foreign policy debates.
- Introduction to International Studies (INST-2500): What international processes, ideas, and questions define the modern world? What political, economic, environmental, historic, cultural, and social dynamics drive contemporary life? How do we study them? How do we understand the relationship between international, national, and local issues? This course addresses these questions. It prepares students to think about the international studies program by introducing the disciplines and methods of inquiry that define the field, and it asks students to think rigorously about the major issues that organize the way we live today. The course is divided into three sections: (1) What are international studies? What are the processes, questions, problems, or dilemmas that define international affairs? (2) How do we study international processes? (3) How do we understand international questions in a regional context? The first section introduces four major questions about the way the contemporary international context is organized. What is the nation, and what is the state? What is colonialism and what is imperialism, how do they work, and what have been their effects? How do processes of international conflict and cooperation—war, aid, development, intervention, and institutions—define relations between countries, people, and cultures across borders? What is globalization, and what are its effects? The second section lays out five major disciplines—anthropology, history, political science, sociology, and economics—in which scholars investigate international processes and outcomes, asking students to think about how we know what we know, and which tools we should use to research topics of interest. Finally, the third section revisits the major international processes we investigated in the early part of the course, placing them in specific regions and asking how global processes interact with local contexts. In this last part of the course, we’ll ask the following questions: how did processes of state building and national identity play out in Europe during the 20th century? How do colonial history and the aftermath of imperialism affect the way we understand and interact with the Middle East? How do international organizations like the United Nations operate in Africa, and what kinds of consequences do we see from international interventions in war-stricken states? What kinds of political and economic practices emerge from the interaction between global and local economies, and how does globalization affect the indigenous populations of Latin America? The tools and ideas you develop and acquire in this course should enhance both your understanding of theoretical concepts in international studies and your understanding of critical issues in contemporary politics, history, economics, and culture.