The Rise and Fall of Great Powers

This upper-division lecture course examines the process of how countries rise to become great powers–and how they ultimately remain or tumble from this rank. We debate what is the nature of power, and how one can measure it. We evaluate how much power a country needs to join the ranks of the great nations of the world. We discuss what are the obstacles to “rise”–both economic and military–that rising states must overcome. At the heart of these discussions is innovation. Innovation is required for fast-rising economies to make the transition to value-added economies and sustainable growth, and for countries to build world-class military power. We consider what kinds of countries (regime type? niche in the global economy?) can innovate–and which cannot. Throughout the class we draw upon historical case studies of rising and declining powers. In a research paper students apply this framework to potential great powers.

East Asian International Relations (Govt 57)

This course has three goals: (1) to introduce students to salient issues in East Asian international politics; (2) to situate current events within a historical context, and (3) to provide students with analytic tools to analyze contemporary issues. We begin with an examination of the regional balance of power: what is power, who has it, and how is the balance of power shifting? We then focus on the military relations between key countries, assessing the conventional and nuclear balance of power, and the prospects for stable deterrence. We next move to the realm of ideas, where we explore how history and national identities affect the security strategies of states, and how they affect regional relations. We will then consider the prospects for a “liberal peace” in the region, made possible through increasing economic interdependence and through democratization. The course ends with a discussion of future American strategy toward the East Asian region. More»

The Rise of China (Govt 50)

This course explores the international strategic implications of the growth of Chinese power. We begin by studying historical periods of Chinese strength and decline, and by studying China’s past relations with the United States and its neighbors. We examine China’s transition from a position of weakness into one of growing wealth and power, and how this may affect its relations with the world’s most powerful country, the United States. Are the United States and China doomed for superpower confrontation, or can China’s rise be accommodated? Next, we explore rising China’s relations and disputes with its neighbors, in particular Japan, the Koreas, and countries of Southeast Asia. This course has two primary goals: (1) to familiarize students with the international strategic issues that are salient to China’s rise (in East Asia, and in U.S.-China relations); and (2) to provide students with analytic tools (theories and military analysis) useful to the study of East Asian international security affairs.

Nationalism in War and Reconciliation (Govt 7 / First-year seminar)

At the root of many domestic and international policy debates are questions related to national identity. In this course we discuss the symbols and stories that every community remembers, forgets, or invents in order to advance its goals. We explore the roots of identity and discuss the extent to which it is “primordial” versus  malleable or constructed. We examine what factors (internal and external) influence the development of national identity and the character of nationalism. The class next turns to the issue of identity politics – how people within a political community struggle for control of the historical narrative (in battles over school textbooks, national holidays, museums, memorials, and so forth). Next we discuss the role of identity in peace and conflict, showing how national identity has powerful effects on threat and conflict, and how peacemaking and reconciliation thus require grappling with how the past is remembered and represented. As we explore these topics, this course explores nationalism and identity within and between several different countries — Austria, Germany, Israel, Japan, Serbia, South Africa, Rwanda, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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