A A Email Print Share

Course Descriptions

The following are the course requirements for a major in International Relations. Many of these courses are cross-listed with the departments of Political Science, History, and Modern Languages and Literatures.

For a full list of courses, please review the university's course catalog

IR 101 - Catholic Thought, the State and Security in the Modern World - 3 credits. The increasing tensions of the present security environment can have a strangling effect on the spirit and ethos of moral reason, and faith founded social institutions. The State needs to be secure and have its people secure. Doing so, however, may involve hard choices to do things it would not do ordinarily. How can a principled and faith founded people respond to these exigencies? This course introduces the student to the rich tradition of Roman Catholic thinking on the subject of war, peace, the State and the dignity of the individual. It will then open a conversation with some of the other approaches to contemporary problems, as well as assess responses to pressing security issues confronting the world.  Cross-listed with Political Science.

IR 110 - Current Problems in International Politics - 3 credits.  A survey of issues that states currently face in world politics.

IR 120 - Introduction to Political Economy - 3 credits.  An introduction to how government decisions about trade, investment, debt and market developments impact people domestically and worldwide. Special attention is given to the problems experienced by poorer countries and responsibilities of developed nations. No background in the subject matter is required.

IR 200 - Writing and Research in International Relations - 3 credits.  Students will learn to do research and write papers related to IR issues.

IR 201 - Human Securityin Sub-Saharan Africa - 3 credits.  Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, the course examines human security issues including religious and ethnic conflict within states; genocide and mass slaughter; terrorism; food security; migration and human trafficking; development and aid; and democratization. Among countries considered in the course are some of Africa's largest and most important, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia.      

IR 206 - Japanese Culture - 3 credits.  It introduces students to interdisciplinary approaches to the holistic study of Japanese culture; its tradition and the contemporary society. It draws on case studies of current issues that require students to think analytically and critically about how we approach, interpret, and respond to different cultures. The class will also experience the taste of culture through hands-on crafts and the culinary arts. The course is designed to help students broaden their knowledge of Japan and prepare them for global competition.       

IR 207 - Arab Culture - 3 credits.  This course will engage students in the study of a variety of literary, linguistic, geographical, historical, social, religious, cultural and artistic aspects of the modern Arab world. Many course components are specifically intended to heighten students' sensitivity to racial bias and sharpen awareness of multicultural issues. The course intends to increase tolerance and understanding by providing students with a realistic view of the cultural contours of the modern Arab world and the richness of the Arab cultural heritage.

IR 208 - Politics of Great Powers - 3 credits.  An introduction to government, politics, culture and economic policy in Europe and Japan.

IR 209 - Politics of Emerging Powers - 3 credits.  An introduction to government, politics, culture, and economic policy in the developing world.

IR 216 - Foundations of International Relations Theory - 3 credits.  The goal of this course is to develop understanding of how contemporary international relations theory rests upon a long-standing historical conversation about the conditions for a just international order. Specific objectives include comprehending a) classical realism, idealism, imperialism and cosmopolitanism b) Christian just war theory and cosmopolitanism c) early modern realism, the rise of the state and international law d) modern liberal nationalism and internationalism e) modern cosmopolitanism and imperialism.

IR 245 - International Relations - 3 credits.  A study of politics between states including sovereignty, balance of power, war, and economics.

IR 254 - American Foreign Policy - 3 credits.  A study of American foreign policy since World War II.

IR 296 - Intelligence Operations - 3 credits.  Intelligence existed as a profession long before intelligence organizations became instruments of power.  The development of national intelligence agencies was - in some instances - crucial to a government retaining or increasing control; in other instances intelligence organizations were partly responsible for a government's collapse.  This course examines the role of intelligence in national power, the Intelligence Cycle and basic principles of intelligence operations.  THIS IS A NEW COURSE AND WILL BE OFFERED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE FALL 2016.

IR 300 - Intelligence, Covert Action and Counter-Insurgency - 3 credits.  Covert action operations and counter-intelligence have been employed in counter-insurgency from the 1600's to the present global struggle against terrorism.  The same forms of low intensity conflict are being fought in Afghanistan and the Middle East.  This course will survey counter-insurgency doctrine and analyze the value and problems intelligence operations present in these types of conflicts.  THIS IS A NEW COURSE AND WILL BE OFFERED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE FALL 2016.

IR 303 - The Politics of Immigration - 3 credits.  This course explores the challenges of immigrant incorporation in an increasingly transnational world. Through comparative case studies drawn from the European and American contexts, as well as community engaged learning activities with Pittsburgh partner institutions, students gain both a theoretical and practical exposure to the difficulties that both immigrant groups and policymakers face regarding immigrant incorporation.  Cross-listed with Political Science.

IR 305 - International Political Communication - 3 credits.  An in-depth study of the various political communications means in International Society.

IR 345 (W) - Ethics and International Relations - 3 credits.  The course's principal purposes are to explore the possibilities, limits, and obligations of ethical action in international relations. The course applies the insights of different theories of ethics to a number of issues, including various wars, terrorism, and humanitarian intervention. W=Writing Intensive Course.

IR 349 - United Nations I (1 credit).  IR 350 - United Nations II (1 credit). IR 353 - United Nations III (2 credits). IR 354 - United Nations IV (2 credits) Examines the processes and policies of the United Nations through classroom lecture and experiential (lab) activities. A strong focus will be placed on reinforcing professional skills such as research, negotiation, and public speaking. The required lab portion of this course will consist of student participation in all parts of local and/or national Model United Nations conferences, amounting to at least 12 hours of this lab/activity outside the classroom. Permission of instructor required.

IR 351 - US Foreign Relations to WWI - 3 credits.  An examination of the history of American foreign relations from the American Revolution to WWI. This is a study of the nation's exercise of sovereignty in foreign affairs, its rise to world power, and the internal and external conflicts that resulted.

IR 352 - US Foreign Relations Since 1917 - 3 credits.  The United States emerged as a major player on the world stage during and after World War I. This course will discuss the role that the country has played in international relations during the course of the 20th century and will also examine the domestic implications of the United States' rise to world dominance.

IR 360 - Crisis Management in Complex Emergencies - 3 credits.  This course considers crisis management in theory and practice, drawing from the periods since World War II. Theories of crisis prevention, escalation, management, de-escalation, termination, and post-crisis management will be covered. In addition, alternative decision-making theories, structures, and processes, the nature of crisis bargaining and negotiation and the role of third parties will be addressed. Special attention will be paid to the role of military force in post-Cold War crisis scenarios. The course will include case studies and a simulation designed to provide context to the study of crisis management.

IR 393 - Political and Economic Geography - 3 credits.  This course is intent upon providing an in-depth understanding of world geography and its corresponding relationship to the rise and decline, existence and maintenance of nation-states.  Of necessity, students will be engaged in political and economic realities that may contribute to the future of the world, in war or in peace.                                                                                                                                                                                   

IR 394 - Historical Geography - 3 credits.  A survey of the physical world which is the basis for a human civilization, past present, and future. What are the possibilities and limitations of different places for human development? How successful or unsuccessful were human settlements? Emphasis also on geography as an intellectual discipline and cultural phenomenon.

IR 406 - Homeland Security - 3 credits.  This course aims to enhance the students' ability to see through to the crux of contemporary policy issues efficiently, quickly, and logically. The course explores techniques of policy analysis in depth, as well as the practical constraints imposed by the policy-making environment in several policy areas, in order to hone those critical analytic skills.

IR 407 - Terrorism - 3 credits.  The phenomenon of transnational violence perpetrated by non state actors against civilians has become the single most pressing security issue in the modern era. This sort of violence - terrorism - is studied here in all its facets: motivations, organization, funding, tactics and goals. Furthermore, kinetic as well as soft-power counter-terror strategies are also reviewed from the policy, legal and moral perspectives, among others.

IR 408 - Democracy, Conflict and World Politics -  3 credits.  Examines power, conflict and democratization primarily in countries outside the U.S.

IR 409W - Ethnic Conflict:Politics and Policy3 credits.  Ethnic conflict threatens political stability in countries around the world. From Iraq to Bolivia, from Spain to Indonesia, conflicts have erupted over a wide variety of "ethnic" issues in recent years. Yet, despite its ubiquity, ethnic politics remains poorly understood: Why do people identify with ethnic groups? Why does ethnic identity sometimes lead to private ritual, sometimes to peaceful mobilization through mass movements or political parties, and sometimes to violent conflict, pogroms, and genocide? Most pressingly, are there solutions to ethnic conflict, particularly in deeply-divided, violence-ridden countries?

IR 413W - Human Rights: Politics and Policy - Explores the international human rights regime including philosophical sources, legal instruments, governmental and non-state actors, and impacts on the international system.  Cross-listed with Political Science.

IR 419W - European Union - 3 credits.  The course traces the development of European integration over the last decades. It analyses the role of major actors in shaping the European Union, the main institutions and the key political processes that drive EU politics and governance, and discusses main EU policies. Current challenges facing the European Union at home and abroad, such as the consequences of the recent enlargements for the Union, the Euro-crisis, and contestation and co-operation between the EU and European governments on the European economy and EU-US relations will be studied. Case studies of political events unfolding during the semester will be used to supplement the course. We will complement our analysis with more in-depth readings on the politics and policies of specific countries. The course includes various simulation games, in which students "representing" the EU member states negotiate current issues following the actual negotiation format of the EU institutions.

IR 423W - Comparative Intelligence Agencies - An examination of the development, structure and usage of intelligence agencies with particular emphasis on how such functions impact upon national policy makers and the policy making process. The primary focus of the course centers on a study of the CIA, British M16 and Russian KGB/FSB. W=Writing Intensive Course.  Cross-listed with Political Science.

IR 499 - Advanced International Relations Theory - 3 credits.  The central substantive aim of the course is to develop a deep and nuanced understanding of how different theories explain international politics and which ones are most persuasive under what conditions. Theories are important because they affect both how we intepret our environment and how we respond to it. Theories, in short, drive action. Theories representing all of the major approaches to the study of world politics (material, institutional, and ideational) and levels of analysis (international, domestic, and individual) will be examined. A central objective of the class is for students to develop their critical reading abilities, i.e., what are the authors read in the class arguing? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each piece? What are the authors' (often hidden) assumptions? Correctly answering these questions is important not only in the context of this class, but in terms of how you - curent citizens and future leaders - see the world.