Global Issues

Political Science 2401

Fall Semester 1999

MW 1:00-2:15

General Classroom Building 200

Dr. William M. Downs


Offered during the last academic semester of the twentieth century, Global Issues is a course aimed at introducing students to the events, trends, and problems facing citizens and leaders in an increasingly interdependent world. The course is designed to inform, to provoke, and most especially to inspire you to think seriously about pressing political, economic, social, and ecological concerns in the contemporary world. Assuming no prior knowledge of international relations or comparative politics, the course targets a multidisciplinary audience: students in business, education, and arts and sciences. Upon completion of the course, all students will emerge with a more sophisticated understanding of important core concepts (e.g., sovereignty, identity, development, sustainability, security), with a greater awareness of alternative perspectives to interpreting and resolving global dilemmas (e.g., population growth, environmental degradation, transnational crime flows), and with an enhanced confidence in your own ability to articulate informed positions on important issues.

Among the questions we will ask are the following:

For these and other questions we will explore the prospects for governments, individuals, and international groups to address problems in cooperative, competitive, or conflictual manners. The course aims to provide you with an initial overview of these issues - certainly not the last word. It will, further, provide some of the analytical tools needed to study the issues in more depth on your own, or in upper level courses in comparative politics and international relations.


The following books are required and are available at the university bookstore:

Michael J. Strada. Through the Global Lens: An Introduction to the Social Sciences. Prentice Hall, 1999.

John T. Rourke. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in World Politics, 9th edition. Dushkin/McGraw-Hill, 1999.

Samuel P. Huntington. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Touchstone, 1996.

Additionally, it is highly recommended that all students follow international events on a daily basis, either by reading a reputable newspaper in hardcopy form or by utilizing international news sources on the Internet. Useful web-based sources include:


The New York Times

The Washington Post

For additional Internet sites, you should see the Global Affairs Resource Page for this course at:


Most class sessions will combine some mix of lecture and discussion/debate. All students should come to class having read the assigned reading for the day. However, class lectures may not always simply repackage the reading material and may, instead, expand well beyond the reading to related themes or tackle the themes of the reading in different fashion. In other words, lectures will complement the readings, not provide a substitute for doing them. Current events will be discussed throughout the course and may also be part of the exams. Additionally, we will on occasion make use of video resources and guest speakers.


I encourage you to make good use of my office hours (MW, 3:00-4:30). If these hours conflict with your own schedule, please call or e-mail to arrange an appointment. If you show up unannounced at my office outside of scheduled hours, unfortunately I will not be able to be of much help.

Teaching Assistant. Cecilie Lilletvedt, a graduate student in the political science program, will serve as teaching assistant for this course. She will assist in course preparation, grading, and mentoring. If you have a pressing concern and cannot reach me, you can contact her at If there is sufficient demand, Ms. Lilletvedt may hold study sections for interested students on occasion throughout the semester.


Students will be evaluated along four dimensions. A midterm exam and a final exam will determine one half of your grade. The remaining 50% will be determined by quiz scores (25%) and performance on three written assignments (25%).

Quizzes. As a means both of testing your reading comprehension and of requiring consistent attendance, unannounced quizzes will be given from time to time. They will be based on the assigned readings. There will be no make-ups for missed quizzes. Missing a quiz for medical reasons or for attending an official university sponsored inter-collegiate event (but not a practice) will be excused only when accompanied by a written note from the attending physician (one week following absence) or team coach (one week prior to event).

Class Participation. Students must complete the assigned readings on time, and actively participate in class discussions.

Position Papers. There are twelve in-class debates scheduled during the semester, each of which is based on a Yes/No Issue in the Rourke book. You will sign up early in the semester for three of these debate themes. On the day of the debate you must come to class with a three-page position paper setting out an argument for your position on the issue. All debaters will then help contribute to an informed debate on the subject. The rest of the class will be invited to join in with provocative questions and comments.

See Sign-Up Sheet for Positions Papers

Examinations. Two in-class examinations, consisting of a midterm exam and final, will constitute 50% of each student's grade. The exams will consist of a mix of multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions. Material discussed in class and material covered in required readings will appear on the exams.

Quizzes 25%

Position Papers
Paper 1 5%
Paper 2 10%
Paper 3 10%

Midterm 20%

Final Exam 30%


August 23 Introduction

Overview of course goals, format, and requirements
Part I.

A Special Moment in History: Framing Issues Poised to Shape a New Century

August 25 Globalization and Interdependence

Strada, Chapter 1: "A Global Window on the Social Sciences" (pp. 1-12); Chapter 3: "The Evolution of Social Science Disciplines and Methods" (pp. 39-64). August 30 Ethnicity and Global Diversity – The Politics of Identity Strada, Chapter 2: "Patterns of Social Identity" (pp. 13-37).

Huntington, Chapter 1: "The New Era in World Politics" (pp. 19-39)

September 1 Organized Violence – Contemporary Threats to "Security"

Do Serious Threats to U.S. Security Exist?

Rourke, Issue 1 (pp. 2-21)

September 6 [Labor Day holiday—no class]

Part II.

The Nation-State and its Contenders

September 8 Evolution of the Nation-State System

Strada, Chapter 4: "Rise and Decline of the Nation-State" (pp. 65-89).

Huntington, Chapter 2: "Civilizations in History and Today" (pp. 40-55).

September 13 Challenges to the Nation-State: NGOs, IGOs, MNCs, IFIs, and the Attack of the Acronyms

Strada, Chapter 5: "New Actors Challenge the Nation-State" (pp. 90-113).
September 15 Evaluating the Impact of Non-State Actors Should Multinational Corporations Be Concerned with the Global Public Good? Debate 1 Rourke, Issue 6 (pp. 100-115)
Part III.

(Under)Development: Economic and Social Dimensions

September 20 Setting the Pace? America’s Transition to the Global Market

Strada, Chapter 11: "Macroeconomics and the Role of the United States" (pp. 225-255).

Huntington, Chapter 3: "A Universal Civilization? Modernization and Westernization" (pp. 56-78).

September 22 Polarization of North and South Strada, Chapter 12: "International Economics" (pp. 256-287). Huntington, Chapter 4: "The Fading of the West: Power, Culture, and Indigenization" (pp. 81-101). September 27 Alleviating Poverty Should the Developed North Increase Aid to the Less Developed South? Debate 2 Rourke, Issue 7 (pp. 116-133) September 29 The "Asian Model" and its Crisis Huntington, Chapter 5: "Economics, Demography, and the Challenger Civilizations" (pp. 102-121). October 4 Economic Cooperation Huntington, Chapter 6: "The Cultural Reconfiguration of Global Politics" October 6 Perspectives on Economic Integration Is the Current Trend Toward Global Economic Integration Desirable? Debate 3 Rourke, Issue 5 (pp. 78-99) October 11 Profit or Principle? When Economic and Political Interests Clash Should China Be Admitted to the World Trade Organization?

Debate 4

Rourke, Issue 4 (pp. 60-75) October 13 Midterm Exam

Part IV. Conflict and Conflict Resolution

October 18 The Psychology of Enemy Making

Strada, Chapter 9: "Psychology and Human Motivation" (pp.169-193). Huntington, Chapter 7: "Core States, Concentric Circles, and Civilizational Order" (pp. 155-179). October 20 Weapons Proliferation

Does the World Need to Have Nuclear Weapons at All?

Debate 5

Rourke, Issue 8 (pp. 136-147)

Huntington, Chapter 8: "The West and the Rest: Intercivilizational Issues" (pp. 183-206). October 25 Fault-Line Wars Huntington, Chapter 9: "The Global Politics of Civilizations" and Chapter 10: "From Transition Wars to Fault Line Wars" (pp. 207-265).
October 27 Nationalism: A Double-Edged Sword

Will Creating a Palestinian State Promote Peace in the Middle East?

Debate 6

Rourke, Issue 2 (pp. 22-41)

November 1 International Peacekeeping: Who’s Responsibility?

Should a Permanent UN Military Force Be Established?

Debate 7

Rourke, Issue 9 (pp. 148-171)

Part V.

Ethics and Human Rights in Peace and War

November 3 Principles and Values in the Global Arena

Strada, Chapter 10: "Ethics and Human Rights" (pp. 194-224). November 8 Policy Relevance of Human Rights

Should Foreign Policymakers Minimize Human Rights Concerns?

Debate 8 Rourke, Issue 12 (pp. 224-239) November 10 Women in Power: Global Consequences?

Would World Affairs Be More Peaceful if Women Dominated Politics?

Debate 9

Rourke, Issue 14

Part VI.

Transnational Challenges: Population Expansion, Crime, and the Environment

November 15 Ecological Problems in Perspective

Strada, Chapter 13: "The Physical Backdrop to the Human Drama" (pp. 288-305); Chapter 14: "Global Ecological Problems" (pp. 306-341). November 17 Institutions for Global Ecological Solutions Strada, Chapter 15: "Solving Ecological Problems" (pp. 342-356).
November 22 International Cooperation to Halt Global Warming

Should the Kyoto Treaty Be Supported?

Debate 10

Rourke, Issue 17 (pp. 310-325)

November 24 [Thanksgiving holiday--no class]

November 29 Population Explosions and Immigration

Readings on Reserve at Library South:

Jennifer D. Mitchell, "Before the Next Doubling," World Watch (1998)

Gerard Piel, "Worldwide Development or Population Explosion: Our Choice," Challenge (1995)

Rony Brauman, "Refugees: The Rising Tide," UNESCO Courier (1996)

December 1 International Crime, Drugs, and Terrorism Do U.S. Efforts to Stem the Flow of Drugs from Abroad Encourage Human Rights Violations? Debate 11

Rourke, Issue 13 (pp. 240-252)

December 6 International Criminal Court

Should an International Criminal Court Be Established?

Debate 12

Rourke, Issue 11 (pp. 208-221)

Part VII.

Global Issues in Perspective

December 8 Making Sense of Disparate Trends…and Projecting the Future

Strada, Chapter 16: "Trends in Our World: What Social Scientists Can Tell Us" (pp. 357-378).

Huntington, Chapter 12: "The West, Civilizations, and Civilization" (pp. 301-321).

December 13 Exam (10:15-12:15)

Note: This course syllabus provides a general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary.

Note: Students are responsible for the information contained in the University’s Academic Honesty policy.

Note: The last day to drop and receive a "W" is October 15.