Reading Guidance and Journal Prompts

This page contains guidance on the assigned readings and journal prompts for each week. Guidance questions  are designed to help students get through difficult readings by highlighting their important points. Journal prompts should be answered in their respective week's section on Moodle. Entries should be approximately 250 words (excluding the question itself and any other 'fluff'). The aim is to have students reflect on what they have read, do not worry about 'getting everything right.'  For a given week you do not need to answer all of the provided prompts, feel free to focus your entry on only one of them.

Week 1: Introduction to International Relations

Chapters 1 & 2: Kaarbo, Juliet, and James Ray. Global Politics. Cengage Learning, 2010. Available on Moodle and online (Google Books):

  • Focus on comparing Realism, Liberalism and Constructivism
  • Skim idealism for a historical understanding
  • Table on p. 8 important
  • Think about how theories focus on different actors
  • Think about how they describe what drives actor’s behavior
  • What were some landmark events that shaped our international system, and why do they matter?

(External Website) Watch “Fog of War.”

  • How does McNamara view the world?  What does he say about rationality and what examples does he give?


Walt, Stephen M. "International relations: one world, many theories." Foreign Policy (1998): 29-46.

Snyder, J. (2004). “One world, rival theories.” Foreign Policy, (145), 52.

Journal Prompts

  • Why do scholars of international relations use theories (i.e., what purposes do they serve?). From the Kaarbo and Ray Chapters, which theory(ies) do you find (are) the most difficult to understand? Why?
  • Given the theories you have learnt about from Kaarbo and Ray (2010), what type of theoretical perspective do you think McNamara (mostly) applied when analyzing the behavior of states?  What does McNamara mean when he says rationality will not save us?  Do you find this persuasive?

Week 2: Introduction to Realism

Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, Fifth Edition, Revised, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978, pp. 4-15). Available on Moodle and

  • “Classical” Realism
  • What is the basis or foundation for Morgenthau’s theorizing (hint: what does it have to do with human nature?)
  • Can you summarize each of the six tenets into one sentence and understand what they mean (e.g. what does he mean by interest, how does he talk about power?)

 Kenneth N. Waltz, “The Origins of War in Neorealist Theory” Waltz, Kenneth N. “The Origins of War in Neorealist Theory.” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, vol. 18, no. 4, 1988, pp. 615–628.

  • “Structural” or “neo” realism
  • What are the differences between Waltz’s ‘Neorealism’ and Morgenthau’s Classical realism (e.g., what is the foundation of the theory, difference between means and end and power, role of anarchy).
  • What is the ‘security dilemma’? (p.619)
  • How does he conceptualize balance of power?

John J. Mearsheimer, “Anarchy and the Struggle for Power,” from The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001), pp. 29-54. Available on Moodle.

  • “Offensive” realism
  • Compare with Waltz – how do states ensure their survival?  
  • How Does Mearsheimer dispute the argument of needing an ‘appropriate amount of power’ (p.34)
  • Security Dilemma again (p.35-36)
  • What does he mean by ‘status quo’ or ‘hegemon’?
  • How does fear matter?
  • How does Mearsheimer conceptualize cooperation? (p. 51-53)


Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War. See Book 5 section 84 to 116 (beginning page 301) and Book 1, sections 18 – 98. Available through Concordia library e-book and Book 5 also available here:

Thomas Hobbes, “Chapter XIII: Of the Natural Condition of Mankind as Concerning Their Felicity and Misery,” Leviathan (1676). Available online:

Journal Prompts

  • The readings this week look at three ‘flavors’ of realist theories. What are the similarities and differences between these three theories?  What are two concepts or issues do you find challenging to understand and would like further clarification?
  • Mearsheimer is (in)famous for arguing that the US should bomb Iran to prevent it from getting nuclear weapons.  Given what he has written, how do you think he might argue for this action?  How might Waltz argue against such an action?  
  • Do you find these conceptualizations of interests, power, anarchy (or human nature) a compelling means of describing state behavior in the international system?  Why or why not?

Week 3: Realism (Continued)

Walt, S. (1987). The Origins of Alliances (Cornell studies in security affairs). Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp. 17-32. Available on Moodle.

  • What is balancing, and what is bandwagoning and when do states choose one or the other?  
  • In Walt’s theory, how does threat figure into the equation, and how is it different than capabilities?

Nexon, Daniel H. "The Balance of Power in the Balance." World Politics 61, no. 2 (2009): 330-59.

  • This work summarizes different approaches and disagreements relating to concepts on balancing power.
  • p.335-347
    • Understand the different conceptualizations (e.g., soft balancing, asymmetric balancing) and disagreements

Monteiro, Nuno P. 2012. "Unrest Assured: Why Unipolarity Is Not Peaceful." International Security 36 (3):9-40. Available online (click download options):

  • What is a ‘revisionist state’?
  • What are the arguments that a unipolar world are more peaceful? What are Monteiro’s counter arguments to these?

Paul, T. V. "Soft Balancing in the Age of U.S. Primacy." International Security 30, no. 1 (2005): 46-71.

  •  What is soft balancing?
  •  What evidence does Paul provide to support his argument?


Grieco, Joseph M. “Anarchy and the Limits of Cooperation: A Realist Critique of the Newest Liberal Institutionalism.” International Organization, vol. 42, no. 3, 1988, pp. 485–507. Available Online:

 Feaver, P. and I. Popescu. 2012. “Is Obama’s foreign policy different to George W. Bush’s?” E-International Relations. Available Online:

Hans J. Morgenthau, “The Balance of Power, Different Methods of the Balance of Power, and Evaluation of the Balance of Power,” from Politics Among Nations, pp. 179 – 208. Available on Moodle.

Rose, Gideon. "Neoclassical realism and theories of foreign policy." World Politics 51.1 (1998): 144-172. Available Online:

Journal Prompts

  • Write 3 things you’ve learned from the readings, two things you don’t understand or are confused about, two terms or concepts you had to look up from the readings (along with the definition you found), and 1 question you’d like to pose one of the authors (that goes beyond a clarifying question about what they meant).
  • Thinking about Canada’s foreign policy, overall, does it change according to the party in power or is it more or less consistent?  That is, are PM Trudeau’s foreign policies different than those of former-PM Harper?
  • Nowadays, are other powers balancing against the United States? If so, what type of balancing are they pursuing? What evidence do you have have to support this claim? 

Week 4: Liberalism

Doyle, Michael W. "Liberalism and World Politics." American Political Science Review 80.04 (1986): 1151-1169. Available online:

  • Focus on Liberal Internationalism
  • What is the essential argument and how does it relate to Kant?
  • What is Doyle’s argument that liberal republics lead to peace?

Andrew Moravcsik, “Liberal Theories of International Relations: A Primer,” unpublished manuscript, Princeton University, 2010. Available online:

  • What are the two assumptions of liberal theory and why do they matter?
  • How is power conceptualized and how is it different than in Realist theories?
  • What are the three types of liberal theories he discusses – what is their central point / tenet?
  • Look at the figure on p. 13, can you understand what it is communicating?

Oye, Kenneth A. “Explaining Cooperation under Anarchy: Hypotheses and Strategies.” World Politics, vol. 38, no. 1, 1985, pp. 1–24. Available online:

  • What three circumstantial dimensions serve both as proximate explanations of cooperation?
  • Don’t get too bogged down on the section on payoff structure
  • What is a prisoner’s dilemma and a stag hunt?
  • Why does iteration (i.e. the shadow of the future ) matter?
  • How can cooperation alter payoff structure?
  • Why does the number of actors matter?

Keohane, R. O. 1998. International institutions: can interdependence work? Foreign Policy (110): 82-96. Available online:

  • Focus on 2 sections: Yesterday’s controversies, and today’s debates
  • Overall good summary of neoliberal institutionalism
  • What is the democratic deficit?


Immanuel Kant, “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch” (1795). Available online:

Wilson, Woodrow. "Fourteen points." Address to Congress. Vol. 8. 1918. Available online:

Russett, Bruce. "Peace in the Twenty-First Century?." Current History109.723 (2010): 11. Available online:

Keohane, Robert O., and Joseph S. Nye. “Globalization: What's New? What's Not? (And So What?).” Foreign Policy, no. 118, 2000, pp. 104–119.

Moravcsik, Andrew. “Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics.” International Organization, vol. 51, no. 4, 1997, pp. 513–553.

Journal Prompts

  • Realist and Liberal theories present different perspectives on the world.  Which perspective(s) do you think might present the most compelling explanation for the cause of World War II?  What about the signing of a trade agreement like NAFTA or the WTO? Why?
  • Think a bit about international institutions such as the UN, WTO, nuclear non-proliferation treaty etc.  How might realist and liberal theories present divergent explanations on their effect and purpose? Do these institutions ‘matter’? Explain.
  • Can you give an example of an institution that you think made a difference in the behavior of states?  How did it make a difference? Conversely, can you think of one that does not appear to make a difference?  What do you think accounts for this difference?
  • When it comes to conflict, do you find the argument that democracies don’t fight wars against one another compelling?  Why or why not?

Week 5: Constructivism

Wendt, Alexander. “Anarchy Is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics.” International Organization, vol. 46, no. 2, 1992, pp. 391 25.

  • Note: There is a summary of this article in Fierke
  • Focus on Intro and Conclusion: What is Wendt’s central point – that is, what does he mean by “Anarchy is what states make of it,” and how is this in contrast with realist / neoliberal theories

Fierke, Karin M. "Constructivism." International Relations Theories: discipline and diversity (2007): 166-184. Available on Moodle

  • Understand the difference between Logic of Consequences and the Logic of Appropriateness
  • What is ‘agency’?
  • What do they mean by ‘mutually constituted’?
  • What are some ways that constructivism is different from purely rational approaches?


Jeffrey Checkel: “The Constructivist Turn in International Relations Theory” (1998).

Ronnie Lipshutz: “Because People Matter: Studying Global Political Economy” (2001). Available Online:

Parsons, Craig. "Constructivism and interpretive theory." Theory and Methods in Political Science (2010): 80-98. Available on Moodle and Online:

March, James G., and Johan P. Olsen. "The Logic of Appropriateness." In The Oxford Handbook of Political Science: Oxford University Press, 2011-07-07.

Journal Prompts

  • Read the case study on the war on terror in Fierke (p.173).  What role do language and identity play in shaping the actions of the US? Do you find this compelling?  How might it contrast with explanations derived from realist or liberal theories?
  • What does it mean to be ‘Canadian’?  Does this identity shape Canada’s foreign policy?  If so, how?

Week 6: Nuclear Weapons

Jervis, R. 1978. Cooperation under the security dilemma. World Politics 30(2): 167-214.

  • Read the intro part about what a stag hunt is, we will go over this in class
  • Skip to page 199 – understand the argument on offense-defense balance, but don’t worry about the examples – you just need to understand the logic sufficiently to get his argument on nuclear weapons 
  • “Offense-Defense Differentiation and Strategic Nuclear Weapons” beginning on p. 206 –This part is the main argument I want you to understand from this piece!
Note: ABM: Anti-ballistic Missile; ICBM: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

Kenneth N. Waltz, “Why Iran Should Get the Bomb: Nuclear Balancing Would Mean Stability”

  • This article is short – what are the possible outcomes and why should Iran get the bomb?
Tannenwald, Nina. "Stigmatizing the bomb: Origins of the nuclear taboo." International Security 29.4 (2005): 5-49.

  • This article makes the argument on the use of nuclear weapons I presented in class
  • Parts to focus on:
    • Introduction
    • Characteristics of The Nuclear Taboo
    • Explanation of The Nuclear Taboo
    • Analysis of the Taboo (p. 33)
    • Challenges to the argument (terrorism part optional)
    • Conclusion

Mahoney-Norris, Kathleen and Derek S. Reveron. “Incorporating Human Security into National Strategy.” Georgetown Public Policy Review 17, no. 2 (2012): 61-78. Moodle and
  • The article begins on p. 61
  • Although this article may seem like a non-sequitur, my aim is for you to understand that there are different ways of conceptualizing ‘security’ and to contrast ‘human security’ with ‘national security’
  • What is ‘human’ security (p.66)?
  • How is it different or the same as national security?
  • What are the implications for states such as the US? o (Thus, focus on parts II, III and IV)


Drezner, D. W. (2010). Night of the Living Wonks. Foreign Policy, (180), 34-38,10.

Waltz, Kenneth N. "Policy Paper 15: Peace, Stability, and Nuclear Weapons." Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (1995).

Carl von Clausewitz, “War as an Instrument of Policy” from On War. Vol. 1. London, N. Trübner & Company, 1873.

Fearon, James D. “Rationalist Explanations for War.” International Organization, vol. 49, no. 3, 1995, pp. 379–414.

Price, Richard. “A Genealogy of the Chemical Weapons Taboo.” International Organization, vol. 49, no. 1, 1995, pp. 73–103.

Sagan, Scott D. “Why Do States Build Nuclear Weapons?: Three Models in Search of a Bomb.” International Security 21, no. 3 (December 1, 1996): 54-86.

Journal Prompts

  • How are ‘nuclear’ weapons different from ‘conventional’ weapons? 
  • Do you think the world would be a safer place without any nuclear weapons, or would there be more war? Why or why not? 
  • Should Canada develop (or procure) nuclear weapons?
  • Should Canada join the American ‘missile shield’ that uses ABMs?
  • Is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (i.e. the Agreement with Iran to halt its development of nuclear weapons) a success or a failure? Why or why not?
  • Is North Korea’s nuclear program a threat to Canada? What about the US? Why or why not?

Week 7: The European Union

Parsons, Craig. "Showing ideas as causes: the origins of the European Union." International Organization 56.1 (2002): 47-84.

Moravcsik, Andrew. "Preferences and power in the European Community: a liberal intergovernmentalist approach." JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 31.4 (1993): 473-524.  or:

Rosato, Sebastian. "Europe's troubles: Power politics and the state of the European project." International Security 35.4 (2011): 45-86. or

  • These sets of readings present three different accounts of why the EU was created – each using a different type of explanation. Don’t focus on the nitty gritty – can you identify which author is making a constructivist / liberal / realist argument? What is the main argument of each – you can again get this by looking at the introduction and conclusion.
  • For Parsons, where does the idea of the EU come from?
  • For Moravscik, don’t worry too much about neo-functionalism, instead focus on liberal intergovernmentalism and the rationality assumption. The conclusion does a good job summarizing his argument.
  • For Rosato, what do the EU’s institutions reflect?
  • Note: See the optional readings to read the authors arguing with one another.


Moravcsik, Andrew. "Did power politics cause European integration? Realist theory meets qualitative methods." Security Studies 22.4 (2013): 773-790. or

Parsons, Craig. "Power, patterns, and process in European union history." Security Studies 22.4 (2013): 791-801. or

Rosato, Sebastian. "Theory and evidence in Europe United: A response to my critics." Security Studies 22.4 (2013): 802-820. or

Journal Prompts

  • These readings present three different accounts of why the EU was created – each drawing from different theories. Can you identify the theoretical perspectives each of the authors use in their explanation?
  • What is the main argument of each author – you can again get this by looking at the introduction and conclusion.  
  • Which arguments do you find most and least compelling?  Why?

Week 8: International Institutions

Milner, Helen V. "Globalization, Development, and International Institutions: Normative and Positive Perspectives." Perspectives on Politics 3, no. 4 (2005): 833-54.

  • Written as a review of several books, this article discusses institutionalist understandings of international institutions.  
  • Note: Counterfactual: What would have happened if these institutions had not existed  Read intro, but don’t worry about the discussion of counterfactuals  Skip or skim “A Brief Review of the Books”
  • Understand sections “The Role of the International Economic Institutions” & “The Experience of the Developing Countries”
  • The Section “Theories about the Functions and Benefits of International Institutions” is the main reason I included this reading, understand the four functions she identifies.
  • The Section “Four Sources of the Problems with International Institution” is also important, understand the four problems (Focus on the concepts! Not the examples of IMF or Worldbank).
  • Skim or Skip “International Justice and Institutions: Normative Perspectives” this introduces the ideas we’ll be looking at the following week .
  • Read the conclusion to reinforce your understanding of the two sections I have identified as important, but don’t worry about her recommendations.

Barnett, Michael N., and Martha Finnemore. "The Politics, Power, and Pathologies of International Organizations." International Organization 53, no. 4 (1999): 699-732.

  • Read intro – note this is a constructivist take on International institutions
  • Then skip to p. 710, and the section on “The Power of IOs” (pp.710-715)  Understand the “three broad types of IO power”
  • Note: We’re using IOs (international organizations) and international institutions synonymously at this point
  • Then skip to Conclusion on p.726.
  • The goal of this article is to understand a constructivist conceptualizations of how international institutions exert influence.

Mearsheimer, John J. "The False Promise of International Institutions." International Security 19, no. 3 (1994): 5-49.

  • Introduction is important lays out the article – this is a realist critique of institutionalism
  • Skim “What Are Institutions?” for context
  • Skim “Realism” as it should largely be review, but focus on the section “INSTITUTIONS IN A REALIST WORLD”
  • Then Focus on “LIBERAL INSTITUTIONALISM,” which should largely be a review, but understand his critiques in “FLAWS IN THE CAUSAL LOGIC” on pp. 19-21
  • Then skip to Conclusion
  • The Main goal of this article: How does Mearsheimer argue that institutions have little independent effect from states, and what are his critiques of institutionalist approaches?


Koremenos, Barbara, et al. “The Rational Design of International Institutions.” International Organization, vol. 55, no. 4, 2001, pp. 761–799.

Journal Prompts

  • Each of the articles presents a very different view of what international institutions ‘do’.  Which do you find compelling?  Is the realist argument presented by Mearsheimer compelling, and institutions don’t usually matter much?  Is there a more nuanced argument, that institutions help foster cooperation in some situations, but not in others (Milner)?  Do you think that the constructivist argument, for example by defining and classifying terms, is really a distinct form of power or influence?
  • Using a current event that is related to an international institution (e.g., North Korean nuclear crisis, Iran and nuclear weapons development, climate change, human rights in Burma) provide contrasting explanations (or hypotheses) of state behavior using each of the theoretical lenses discussed.  In other words, what are the empirical implications of these theories within the context of a current event?

Week 9: Normative Theories

V. Spike Peterson. Feminist Theories Within, Invisible To, and Beyond IR. Brown Journal of World Affairs X, 2 (Winter/Spring 2004): 35-46.



  • As this article is not very dense and is written clearly, I will provide only a few guide points – take the time to read this one thoroughly.
  • What is feminist theory?
  • What are the three overlapping feminist knowledge projects the author identifies?
  • How do they differ?
  • What contributions does feminist theories make compared to constructivism, realism, and liberalism?
  • How is gender different than sex?
  • What three claims does she make?

Tickner, J. Ann. "You Just Don't Understand: Troubled Engagements between Feminists and IR Theorists." International Studies Quarterly 41, no. 4 (1997): 611-32.

  • Read the Introduction and Abstract
  • Skim 614-617, can you get the gist of the misunderstandings?
  • Skim 617 – 623 ‘Epistemological Divides: Where Is Your Research Program?’
  • There are a lot of references to theories and literature we haven’t read, interspersed with clarifying paragraphs on feminist theories. The clarifying paragraphs largely echo the description of feminist theories described in the first article, so don’t get hung up on this part, or references to theories we haven’t explored.
  • The section ‘Feminist Perspectives on Security’ from 623 onwards is what I want you to focus on in this article. 
  • What are some ways feminist theories conceptualize security, and how is it different than other theories?
  • What do feminists focus on?
  • Understand the examples she provides.

Chandhoke, N. (2013), The Great Global Poverty Debate: Is Something Missing?. Global Policy, 4: 420–424.


  • Focus on the conclusion and the argument on p. 422, beginning with the paragraph: “The right not to be poor should logically form part ofa wider struggle for the realization . . . ”
  • What is the argument put forth with regards to the right to not be poor?
  • What is poverty?


Le Melle, T. J. 2009. Race in international relations. International Studies Perspectives 10(1): 77–83.

Keohane, R. O. 1989. International relations theory: contributions of a feminist standpoint. Millennium 18(2): 245-253.

Weber, C. 1994. Good girls, little girls and bad girls: male paranoia in Robert Keohane's critique of feminist international relations. Millennium 23(2): 337-349.

Fukuyama, Francis. "Women and the Evolution of World Politics." Foreign Affairs 77, no. 5 (1998): 24-40. doi:10.2307/20049048.

Tickner, J. Ann. "Why Women Can't Run the World: International Politics According to Francis Fukuyama." International Studies Review 1, no. 3 (1999): 3-11.

Journal Prompts

  • What types of research questions related to IR might feminist or normative theorists ask?  How are these different?  
  • While recognizing that feminist and queer theories are used not only in the context of gender and sexuality, but also in other issues to examine power and oppression, do you find such arguments compelling?  Why or why not?  
  • Given that practitioners (and professors) in international relations still tend to be predominantly white, male, straight, might analyzes using these theories trigger defensive reactions, rather than substantial discussion?  How / Should these issues be discussed, and barriers overcome?  
  • If this course were taught by a woman, would it change your perception of the course and content?  If so, how?  
  • How do you feel when scholars talk about gender as being a social construct (or more controversially, race)?

Week 10: Human Rights and Justice

Shue, Henry. "Global Environment and International Inequality." International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-) 75, no. 3 (1999): 531-45
  • This piece is interesting as Shue manages to avoid heavy philosophical language and references to discuss ideas of justice and link them to the problem of mitigating climate change.
  • Why do ‘rich’ states need to cooperate with ‘poor’ states?
  • How does he define ‘equity’ or fairness?
  • What are the three principles of equity?
  • What counterarguments do he make, and how does he refute them?
Neumayer, E. (2005). “Do International Human Rights Treaties Improve Respect for Human Rights?” The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 49(6), 925-953.
  • The main goal for this reading is to understand their findings and review what different theories would lead us to expect.
  • The abstract does a good job summarizing the findings
  • The Section on Theoretical Expectations (pp. 926 -936) is great because it summarizes most of the Theories we have discussed (and more) and what we should expect.  Pay close attention to Table 1 on page 932.
  • Skim through Review of existing studies
  • Skim or skip through the Research Design
  • Skip the Results and Sensitivity Analysis and go down to the Discussion and Conclusion (p.950)
  • What do they find (should mirror the abstract) ?

Mutua, Makau. "Savages, Victims, and Saviors: The Metaphor of Human Rights." Harv. Int'l LJ 42 (2001): 201. Moodle and

  • According to Mutua, what is the Savages-Victims-Saviors metaphor?
  • Why is it problematic? • Focus on Part I and VI that summarize the argument
  • Read through III, IV and V, to make sure you understand why Mutua is critical of the human rights movement.


Roth, Kenneth. "The Case for Universal Jurisdiction." Foreign Affairs80, no. 5 (2001): 150-54.

Kissinger, Henry A. "The Pitfalls of Universal Jurisdiction." Foreign Affairs 80, no. 4 (2001): 86-96.

Simmons, Beth A. "The future of the human rights movement." Ethics & International Affairs 28.2 (2014): 183-196.

Pogge, Thomas. “World Poverty and Human Rights.” Ethics & International Affairs 19, no. 1 (2005): 1-7.

Power, S. 2001. Bystanders to genocide. Atlantic Monthly 288(2): 84-108.

Nicholas D. Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn, “Two Cheers for Sweatshops” New York Times (Sept. 24, 2000). Moodle

Sen, Amartya. "Human rights and capabilities." Journal of human development 6.2 (2005): 151-166.

Journal Prompts

  • What do you think is ‘just’ or ‘fair’ when it comes to splitting costs or receiving benefits? Should those with less get more? Should those with more pay more? Do you think this should apply to states? When solving international problems, should richer and poorer states contribute equally, or should richer states pay more of the costs?
  • What did you think of Matua’s argument - do you find it compelling (i.e., the SVS metaphor)? Why or why not?
  • Do human rights NGOs make a difference?  If so how?  
  • Do human rights treaties make a difference?  Use an example to support your answer.

Week 11: International Environmental Politics

Hardin, G. 1968. The tragedy of the commons. Science 162(3859): 1243-1248.

  • This piece is considered a seminal work in environmental politics. Hardin lays out a stag hunt type situation which he refers to as the ‘tragedy of the commons.’ It is not an easy read, but it is worth going through. The main goal: What is the structure of this prisoner’s dilemma type situation as referred to by Hardin? What role does population play in it? What solutions does he propose? 
  • The first part of the article up until ‘How to Legislate Temperance?’ is Hardin laying out the problem of the tragedy of the commons and also links it to pollution. 
  • Note: He lays out the solutions in this section: ‘What shall we do?’ On p. 1245 (bottom left) 
  • See if you can follow his argument for institutions in the section ‘Mutual Coercion Mutually agreed upon’ (p. 1247)
Hirata, K. (2004). Beached whales: examining Japan's rejection of an international norm. Social Science Japan Journal7(2), 177-197.
  • What’s interesting in this piece is that it examines the role of norms according to realist, institutionalist and constructivist theories to examine whaling in Japan.  
  • Parts 1 & 2 are important as the author lays out different theories and why they don’t do a good job explaining the decisions Japan has made.
  • Part 3 lays out the explanation of culture & political structure, parts 4 & 5 provide the empirical evidence to support the theory of part 3.
  • Focus your reading on parts 1 & 2, and the conclusion.  Skim parts 3,4,5.  Consider this piece a review on the theories we have learnt, and be sure to understand the author’s thesis.
De Coninck, H., & Bäckstrand, K. (2011). An International Relations perspective on the global politics of carbon dioxide capture and storage. Global Environmental Change, 21(2), 368-378
  • What makes this piece interesting is that (like the previous article) it uses the theories we have learnt to examine global governance of carbon capture and storage. 
  • Parts 1 & 2 are important as they present the different lenses to explain CCS governance.
  • Part 3 presents the empirical evidence
  • Part 4 uses the lenses to analyze the empirical evidence
  • The main task is to understand Parts 2 & 5 and the conclusion.

Lappe, Frances Moore (2013). “Commons Care: How Wrong Was Garrett Hardin?!”. Huffington Post.

  • This blog entry summarizes some of the take-aways from Hardin’s piece, and drawing from the work of Elinor Ostrom argues that there are alternatives. 
  • Notice that he is largely referring to local-level environmental problems 
  • What exactly are the alternative types of solutions she is proposing, in contrast to Hardin?


Ronald B. Mitchell. "International Environment" In Handbook of International Relations. Editors: Thomas Risse, Beth Simmons, and Walter Carlsnaes. Sage Publications, 2002, 500-516. Moodle and

Epstein, Charlotte. "The making of global environmental norms: endangered species protection." Global Environmental Politics 6.2 (2006): 32-54.

Keohane, R. O. 2015. “The global politics of climate change: challenge for political science.” PS; Political Science and Politics 48(1): 19-26.

Journal Prompts

  • Compared to issues of security, trade, and/or human rights, how much of a priority should solving environmental problems be to the Canadian government?
  • Would you support increased taxes, and if so, by how much, to solve problems like climate change, or the extinction of species?
  • Often, among those who believe that action should be taken to solve an environmental problem, debates over solutions are linked to ideological beliefs. On the one hand, market-based solutions might entail taxing or creating a system of permits, and have limited government involvement; on the other, proponents of action might seek more ‘intensive’ forms of government regulation such as setting rules on what is allowed and not allowed, monitoring/fining/punishing violators. Using an example of an environmental problem you are familiar with, how involved do you think governments should be in solving it?
  • Now think about NGOs such as Greenpeace or PETA. Do you think these organizations matter in the context of international environmental politics? If so how? What roles do they serve? Have they ever influenced you, or changed your opinion on an issue?

Week 12: International Political Economy

Milner, Helen V. "The political economy of international trade." Annual Review of Political Science 2, no. 1 (1999): 91-114.

  • This article is largely a re-hash of the points presented by the Hiscox reading, but makes clearer implications on trade and development.
  • There are four parts to this article, focus only on these sections:
Brawley, M. R. (2005). "Chapter 17: The Passage of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff." Power, money, and trade: decisions that shape global economic relations. University of Toronto Press. ON MOODLE

Milanovic, Branko. "The two faces of globalization: against globalization as we know it." World Development 31.4 (2003): 667-683.

  • Focus your reading by going through Parts 1, 2, and 3 and especially on part 6 (skip all the data in parts 4 and 5, unless you are interested)
  • What are the two ‘narratives’ or ‘faces’ of globalization?
  • What position does the author take and why?


Michael J. Hiscox, "The Domestic Sources of Foreign Economic Policies". Moodle and

Rodrik, Dani. "Trading in Illusions." Foreign Policy, no. 123 (2001): 55-62.

Ghemawat, Pankaj. "Why the World Isn't Flat." Foreign Policy, no. 159 (2007): 54-60.

Krasner, Stephen D. "State Power and the Structure of International Trade." World Politics 28, no. 3 (1976): 317-47.

Rogowski, Ronald. "Political Cleavages and Changing Exposure to Trade." The American Political Science Review 81, no. 4 (1987): 1121-137.

Journal Prompts

  • Should Canada sign more free-trade agreements? Why or why not?
  • If you were in a coffee shop or a bar chatting with your friends, and one of them was arguing against promoting trade, what would you argue?
  • When you vote in federal elections, do you even think about trade as an issue that is important? Why or why not?
  • The conventional wisdom is that increased trade, investment and interlinkages between wealthy and less wealthy countries will benefit all parties.  That is, globalization provides opportunities for less-wealthy countries to develop.  Do you find these types of arguments compelling?  Why or why not?

Week 13: Future of International Relations

*Note: No guiding questions this week*

Zakaria, F. 2008. “The rise of the rest.” Newsweek 

Ikenberry, G. John. "The rise of China and the future of the West: Can the liberal system survive?." Foreign Affairs (2008): 23-37.

Brina Seidel and Laurence Chandy, “Donald Trump and the future of globalization,” Brookings Institute (2016).

Stephan Frühling. “Managing escalation: missile defence, strategy and US alliances,” International Affairs, Volume 92, Issue 1, 1 January 2016, Pages 81–95,


Gordon, Philip H. "Can the War on Terror Be Won? How to Fight the Right War." Foreign Affairs 86, no. 6 (2007): 53-66.

Fortna, Virginia Page. “Do Terrorists Win? Rebels' Use of Terrorism and Civil War Outcomes.” International Organization 69, no. 3 (2015): 519–56.

Journal Prompts

  • For this week’s readings I didn’t provide any guidance questions.  Compared to when you began this course, do you find it easier to read academic articles and get their gist, even when you don’t have guidance questions?  
  • Take a moment to look through your journal prompts from the last 12 weeks. Have you learnt anything about IR?  Have your thoughts on any topics or issues changed?  What are some concepts you struggled with at the beginning of the course, but now feel your understanding of them has improved?  Has anything surprised you?
  • What issue or topic would you like to study in your next IR course? Why?