Introduction to International Politics
The course provides an overview of the main outstanding issues in international politics. First, after a brief historical introduction, it looks at the very definitions of this field of studies under a number of theoretical perspectives, and then focuses on several emerging problems of global nature. Besides the theoretical and methodological discussions characterising international political studies, the course highlights – by making a systematic use of illustrative examples – the relevance of geopolitics, of international economic questions, of international organisations, and of environmental concerns. The course is intended for an audience of post-graduate students with no or limited background in international studies, and aims to provide the information and analytical tools for an effective orientation in the contemporary global political setting. Although this course has an introductory nature, its attendance requires the student to possess a minimal background knowledge in political geography and history, not different from the one nec-essary in order to understand articles and other publications on current affairs (e.g. Financial Times, The Economist, etc…). For the various theoretical parts, a certain familiarity with the basic concepts of political theory is an advantage, as well as a minimal degree of knowledge concerning Western intellectual history. Students who will feel uneasy about any part of the course are required to raise the issue immediately with the course coordinator Dr. Orsi, who will provide additional bibliographical suggestions and explanations.
At the end of this course, the student should have familiarised with a series of ongoing discussions concerning the nature of international politics, but in its theoretical articulation and in its several sectorial dimensions. International political theory will be introduced through an analysis of the ma-jor schools of thoughts providing a definition of what international politics is about (ontology) and how it is supposed to be studied (epistemology). For this initial part (Lectures 1-7), the students will become familiar with the concepts of realism, Realpolitik, anarchy, power, national interest, zero-sum-game, relative vs. absolute gain, polarity, globalisation, sphere of influence, intervention, human rights, emancipation. A second group of four lectures introduces specific sub-disciplines and study fields in international politics, dealing with geopolitics, international political economy, international organisation, and international environmental issues. Student will become acquainted with the influence that geography exercises on the life of political communities, and how much of international political debates and struggles revolve around the position of a certain state within the economic architecture of the globe. International organisations will be illustrated as the key component of a highly interconnected world in need of governance structures, however tenuous. A strong emphasis will be put on environmental questions, particularly climate change, and the student will familiarise with the specific difficulties characterising environment protection in a globalised world with high levels of resource competition. The course will also provide insights into the UN Agenda 2030 or Sustainable Development Goals.