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790-322 - The Strategic Approach to International Politics...

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The Strategic Approach to International Politics Spring 2009 Political Science 790: 322 Mon. & Th., 10:55–12:15 CDL-110 Jeffrey M. Ritter [email protected] Offc. Hrs. TBA 314 Hickman Hall Course Description: This course surveys the contributions of the strategic approach to the study of international politics. We will consider how strategic models have contributed to our understanding of specific topics like crisis bargaining, alliance formation, cooperation, participation in international institutions, and the effects of international “anarchy.” The course does not require any prior mathematics beyond simple algebra or any prior familiarity with game theory. The course proceeds in three parts. In the opening weeks, we will learn the basics of the “strategic perspective” and consider how it can help us understand broad patterns of international conflict and cooperation. In the second part of the course, we will focus more closely on the use of coercive force and the manipulation of beliefs in international relations. In the third part of the course, we will see how the strategic perspective can help us understand different domestic political systems and their effects on international behavior. Attendance is important, because my lectures will include material that does not appear in the readings but which may appear on the tests. By the same token, the readings may include material that does not appear in my lectures but which may appear on the tests. You should complete the required readings each week before the appropriate lecture. Before. Really. I have asked the Douglass Co-Op to stock the student workbook designed to accompany the textbook. The two should be bundled together at a discount. You are not required to do the problems in the workbook that correspond to the assigned chapters in the textbook, but I strongly encourage you to do so in preparation for the in-class exams. Students who do not use the workbook usually regret it. Please note that I may change some of the readings listed on this syllabus. You should be sure to check the course Sakai site regularly for announcements and supplemental material. Assignments and announcements posted on this website should be treated as annexes to this syllabus, and you will be responsible for them. You can access Sakai at
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