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New International Relations Seminar Added for PolSc Majors

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All political science majors with at least 15 credits completed in the major are now able to register for PolSc 373.89 (5014).

Priority: Informational

Rising Powers, the United States and World Order

PolSc 373.89
Professor C. Roberts

Section 900 (5014), Tuesday/Friday 12:45 - 2:00 PM

The rise and fall of great powers is a principal cause of change in international politics, and often war. Yet preponderant powers have also established peaceful orders shaped by rules and institutions that moderate competition while serving their self interests. What are the implications of current power shifts for the American postwar international order?

This seminar will be grounded in theoretical debates about the implications of power shifts for international stability and the character of world orders. We will also consider lessons from historical cases but our principal empirical focus will be on the current challenge to the US-led order from emerging powers, particularly China.

Among the topics this seminar will consider are:

  • the measurement of power, relative national capabilities, the definition and measurement of great powers, absolute and relative power, and polarity
  • Power Transition Theory; Hegemonic Stability Theory; Hegemonic War Theory; mechanisms of retrenchment, economic growth, innovative capacity, governance issues, etc.
  • Implications of Institutionalist Theory and Democratic Peace Theory for power transitions

Theoretical and Policy questions include:

  • Do rising powers and hegemons, such as China and the US, tend to behave as power transitions theory predicts, increasing the probability of a wrenching transition and war?
  • Alternatively do US-led international institutions, as liberal institutionalists predict, provide mutually rewarding incentives to cooperate, including economic prosperity, and bind great powers to general rules of accepted conduct that help stabilize international competition?
  • As China acquires the power to shape outcomes in ways that serve its national interests, will it seek to dominate existing institutions so that they become instruments for Beijing to exercise greater influence, or will China abandon them in favor of building its own global order? What is the present trend line and which past historical patterns are most relevant?

The course assumes prior course work (academic not experiential) in IR (POLSC 115, 270, 274, 275, 282 or equivalent approved by Prof. Roberts)

The course counts as an honors seminar for students wishing to graduate with honors in political science (these students must also register for 1 credit of Honors Independent Study– POLSC 492.01). See PolSc Department for details.