INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS (Course number GOVT 262, Spring 2018)
WE ARE GLOBAL GEORGETOWN!
Class day & time: Tuesday & Thursday, 2:00pm-3:15pm
This web-syllabus is designed to be used throughout the semester. Below you will find links to the readings for each of the 28 class sessions. Where possible, reading assignments have been linked to electronic versions available on the Internet. Otherwise, the assignment is available at the library and the bookstore. Students visiting this page for the first time should read through the entire syllabus: the course description, the course requirements, and the course outline. If you have any questions or comments about the web page or the course, please contact me.
Students should note that about 75% of the readings listed below are simply suggested not required. I put them here just in case some day in the future students decide to do further research on anything we cover – so students should not be scared by the length of this syllabus. As for the required reading, there is about one article or chapter per class, and some class sessions require only that you read some web pages. Students should plan just to study the readings marked "required" before and after class– the lecture will reinforce the main points of the readings.
Are the readings really available online? In most cases, yes! (The exceptions are a few readings from books – which are available for purchase e-books.) HOWEVER, many of the articles require a library subscription. So, the links below should work fine IF you are on campus. If not, you can still get the reading online for free, but you need to go through the library search page. So, if any of the links below do not work while you are off-campus, please try again when on-campus (and if it still doesn't work, please email me).
Be sure to click on the links throughout the syllabus – there are some Easter eggs...
This course is about cooperation and sacrifice. Specifically, it is about "institutionalizing" cooperation at the international level. The focus is on intergovernmental organizations. We will examine their historical origins, ostensible functions, the international and domestic political forces that impact their operations, and their effectiveness.
What role do International Organizations (IOs) play in global politics? Some think their role is trivial. Others argue that they fulfill their important stated purposes. Still others argue that governments use them to pursue their own private goals. In my research, I have argued that international organizations can be used to do the "dirty work" of governments – they can "launder" dirty politics – they can be scapegoats – in short, they can be the "dark knight" (sometimes for better, sometimes for worse).
We will begin the course by addressing some overarching theoretical and methodological issues so that we have a core set of analytical tools we can apply to our study of specific IOs. From a theoretical perspective, we will consider various approaches, such as realist, liberal, bureaucratic, and constructivist. From a methodological point of view, we will be concerned with questions of endogeneity and non-random selection. That is, separating the circumstances under which IOs take action from the inherent effects of their actions.
Delving into specific IOs, we begin with the International Financial Institutions (the IMF and the World Bank). We then turn to the United Nations (Security Council, Peacekeeping Operations, Human Rights). We subsequently analyze IOs dealing with Europe (NATO, EU). Next we consider international trade organizations (the GATT/WTO and regional trade organizations). We end the semester by considering some broad themes regarding IOs, such as the effects that they may have on the promotion of democracy and on how democratically (or not) they are governed themselves.
As we examine each institution, we will keep several questions in mind:
Thus, we are concerned with the political economy of international organizations. As in other courses in political economy, we will grapple with centralized versus decentralized mechanisms of allocation, where the two mechanisms often interact. In the study of International Political Economy, we consider the ways in which the various centralized and decentralized mechanisms of allocation have effects across borders. The market forces and government policies in one country affect those in other countries – for example, there are economic, security, and environmental "externalities."
From this point of view, IOs can be considered responses to failures of decentralized mechanisms of allocation at the international level, or, simply put, responses to international market failures. IOs are thus supranational centralized allocation mechanisms, which may or may not effectively achieve their ostensible goals. When evaluating whether these centralized mechanisms of allocation achieve their intended goals, it will be important to consider not just their inherent effects, but also an important counterfactual: what the world would be like in their absence? Note, the course makes no a priori judgments about the value of IOs, and students are encouraged to think critically about the constellation of IOs in the world. The course requires only that students consider both centralized and decentralized mechanisms of allocation as viable solutions to international problems – there is no assumed ideological preference for one approach over the other.
The challenges of trying to understand the interests, institutions, and information of actors in an international context are great, and much remains to be learned. The course is designed not just to familiarize students with IOs, but also to stimulate their curiosity about questions that really have yet to be answered satisfactorily. An important goal of the course is also to equip students with the analytical tools required to address such questions.
Each class lecture will focus on one substantive question and apply one analytical tool. My goal is to be highly focused in each class on teaching about just a pair of ideas, one substantive and one analytical. In this pursuit, I am well aware that over the course of your lives, your interest in international affairs may wax and wane. But the analytical tools that we cover in class should travel with you throughout your life as your interests evolve. I will thus stress the wide applicability of the analytical tools we cover in each class, which extend well beyond the study of international cooperation.
Note that the exams will be based on the substance and analytical tools. At the end of each lecture, I provide a summary of the main points we have learned. Along with the TA, I construct the exam questions based on these summary points. (We also construct some questions based on the main points of the readings.) The stress is on big ideas, not minutia. Moreover, the exam itself reinforces one of the analytical tools we learn about in class: Solving "time-inconsistent preference problems" using "credible commitments." Not sure what this means? You will be (or better be) by the mid-term...
The lectures for this course are packed over a relatively short time period in your lives. During the semester, you're going to be busy with lots of other courses and activities, and when the semester is over, you're going to move on to many wonderful adventures and accomplishments. You won't remember everything from GOVT 262 (least of all the course number). But hopefully you'll remember some key lessons. My strategy is to teach the course with life-long learning in mind (so you might remember something you learned in this class in 20 years). We will, therefore, use multiple methods to reinforce the main take-away messages of the course.
The course grade will be determined by the mid-term examination (25%-75%) and the final examination (25%-75%). Regarding the weight of the exams, students will be given the opportunity to choose how much the mid-term exam is worth for their individual final course grade (between 25% and 75%). The choice must be made during the exam (before turning it in). The decision about the mid-term weight obviously implies the weight of the final exam.
Students are expected to prepare for the exams by coming to class, studying their notes from class, and doing the *required* reading (but NOT the suggested reading). Readings (only those marked "required") should be read thoroughly before and after each class – they will be reinforced through lecture. For each class, copious amounts of "suggested further reading" are provided. Students are *NOT* expected to do the "suggested further reading." It is provided for you in case you ever decide to do further research on a topic in the future.
The course books are available for purchase at the Georgetown Bookstore and on reserve at the library:
Jan 11: Introduction to
Jan 16: What is the role of international organizations and
do they really matter?
SUGGESTED further reading:
Jan 25: The IMF Part 3 –
Why do governments enter into IMF programs and with what effects?
Feb 6: International institutions, cooperation, and sacrifice through the music of Bob Marley
FURTHER *REQUIRED* READING – co-authored by a Georgetown undergraduate! Either read it for today or by the mid-term exam:
Feb 15: The United Nations Security Council Part 1
Feb 20: The United Nations Security Council Part 2 – Reform
March 13: Review for the Mid-term Exam
Mar 22: The World Trade Organization
Mar 27: Regional Trade Organizations: Mercosur
Apr 3: The European Monetary
Apr 5: The depth of Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs)
Apr 19: Whither global governance?