PS 0500 (Spring 2021)

PS 0500: Introduction to International Relations
William Spaniel
Spring 2021
Lecture: Tu/Th 11:05-11:55 G18 William Pitt Union Sunroom
Recitation: As Scheduled
Office Hours: Tu 1:00-3:00 Posvar 4446
Email: williamspaniel@pitt.edu
Syllabus
YouTube Playlist

Assignments: Homework 1, Homework 2, Homework 3, Homework 4, Homework 5, Homework 6

International relations is the study of how states interact with each other. This course builds a working knowledge of our field, introducing the background, theoretical, and empirical tools necessary to understand international relations today. Students will learn about important findings in a variety of subfields, including war, international political economy, institutions, nuclear proliferation, and terrorism. To do so, the course emphasizes readings from original research material rather than from a textbook. Students will also solve problem sets and work with common international relations datasets to obtain a working understanding of the discipline’s methodological foundations.

Topic 11: Terrorism
Slides: Here

Readings: The Strategies of Terrorism, Democracy, Foreign Policy, and Terrorism

Lectures: The Definition of Terrorism, Are Terrorists Rational?, The Frequency of Terrorism, The Profile of a Terrorist, Understanding Suicide Terrorism, Provocation and Terrorism, Spoiling the Peace, Counterterrorism as a Collective Action Problem

Topic 10: Nuclear Weapons
Slides: Here

Reading: Why Do States Build Nuclear Weapons? Three Models in Search of a Bomb

Lectures: Who Has Nuclear Weapons?, Mutually Assured Destruction, Is War Obsolete?, Nuclear Pessimism, Why Not Proliferate?, Covert Nuclear Programs, The Iraq War

Clip: Here

Topic 9: The United Nations
Slides: Here

Lectures: United Nations Security Council Membership, Veto Power, Insincere Voting, Bribery, Rally ‘Round the Flag Effects, Ideology in the General Assembly

Topic 8: International Institutions
Here

Lectures: Goods, Monitoring Institutions, Collective Action Problems, Hegemonic Provision of Public Goods, Issue Linkage, Unintended Consequences, The Justice Dilemma

Topic 7: Economic Sanctions
Readings: The Hidden Hand of Economic Coercion

Slides: Here

Lectures: Economic Sanctions Basics, Selection Problems, The TIES Database, Costly Signaling, Leaders and Sanctions

Topic 6: Leaders
Readings: International Conflict and the Tenure of Leaders: Is War Still Ex Post Inefficient?

Slides: Here

Lecture: Principal-Agent Problems, Diversionary War, Gambling for Resurrection, Democratic Accountability, Leader Retirement, Fighting for Survival and Peace through Instability, Bargaining and Leaders, Pandering, Leaders and Uncertainty



Topic 5: The Democratic Peace Theory
Slides: Here

Lecture: The Democratic Peace Theory, Explaining the Democratic Peace, Correlation versus Causation, The McDonald’s Peace Theory, Economic Interdependence

Topic 4: International Trade
Slides: Here

Lecture: Absolute Advantage, Comparative Advantage, Trade Rivalry, Resolving Trade Disputes, The Relative Gains Problem

Topic 3: Bargaining and War
Readings: Rationalist Explanations for War and The Rationality of War (Chapter 2)

Slides: Regular lecture, COVID bonus


Lecture: The Rationality of War (Online Bonus Lecture), The Unitary Actor Assumption, War’s Inefficiency Puzzle, The Algebraic Bargaining Model of War, War’s Bargaining Range, Crisis Bargaining (Online Bonus Lecture), Preventive War, Information Problems and Incentives to Misrepresent, Issue Indivisibility, Preemptive War, The Causes of War, Militarized Interstate Disputes, Correlates of War and the Long Peace, Full COVID lecture

Topic 2: Basic Models of Conflict and Cooperation
Readings: The Cult of the Offensive and The Evolution of Cooperation, Chapter 1 and Chapter 4

Slides: Here



Lecture: Conflict versus Cooperation, The Prisoner’s Dilemma, The Cult of the Offensive and the Origins of World War I, Tariffs and the Barriers to Free Trade, Arms Races, The Shadow of the Future, Grim Trigger, Benevolent Cooperation

Topic 1: IR Basics
Slides

Lecture: Introduction, Sovereignty, Anarchy, Proximate versus Underlying Causes, The Strategic World

Topic 0: Logistics
Slides