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 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.
At the end of this course, the student should have familiarised with a series of ongoing discussions concerning the nature of international politics, both in its theoretical articulation and in its several sectorial dimensions. International political theory will be introduced through an analysis of the major 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 acquaint-ed 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.