Making Everything ‘Great Again’: International Relations Theory

Course Description: 

This course will attempt to change the perception, or at least to engage with it seriously. It will do so by taking as its starting point of the most striking developments in todays world politics, a promise of making things ‘great again’ that can be heard in the US and China, in Russia and Hungary, in Turkey and Poland, and (re)examine it by looking at four interrelated sets of ideas:

-    concept of power as it is discussed in International Relations theory (IR)

-    idea of greatness, as it is found in the history of political thought

-    history of great powers in Europe

-    various takes in recent IR theorising on the concentration and diffusion of power.

The main objectives of the course are:

-    to provide students with an understanding of intellectual and practical functions of theorising in international relations;

-    to dispel the idea of ‘theory’ as a boring but mandatory engagement with abstract literature or a junk-shop of ready-made frameworks to be applied to various cases;

-    to present theorising as a dramatic engagement with context-specific questions;

-    to indicate how advances in understanding, once these occur, may be seen as outcomes of dialogical engagements between theories.

Learning Outcomes: 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will:

-    develop ability to place their own research-questions into the overall context of IR theorising;

-    critically engage with ideas discussed by various theorists and schools of thought;

get an overview or some of the state-of-the-art theorising in the filed

Assessment: 

Requirements:

-    Active participation in the seminars - 10%

-    Three position-papers for weeks 2-7 (the exact allocation of this assignment to be discussed in detail during the first session) - 45% (15% each)

-    Take-home exam (essay) - 45%

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