GOVT 262: International Organizations (Instructor: James Raymond Vreeland)  


INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS (Course number GOVT 262, Spring 2018)
WE ARE GLOBAL GEORGETOWN!


Class day & time: Tuesday & Thursday, 2:00pm-3:15pm
Classroom location: ICC, Room 107

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...

  • Course Description
  • Learning Goals
  • Learning Methodology
  • Requirements
  • The course books are available for purchase at the Georgetown Bookstore and on reserve at the library
  • In the event of a campus closure causing the cancelation of class, the instructor will communicate with students through email.
  • Jan 11: Introduction to International Organizations
  • Holiday: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Jan 16: What is the role of international organizations and do they really matter?
  • Jan 18: The IMF Part 1 – History and Background
  • Jan 23: The IMF Part 2 – Who controls the IMF?
  • Jan 25: The IMF Part 3 – Why do governments enter into IMF programs and with what effects?
  • Jan 30: Regional Monetary Funds? (The Asian Monetary Fund)
  • Feb 1: Development organizations Part 1 – The World Bank
  • Feb 6: International institutions, cooperation, and sacrifice through the music of Bob Marley
  • Feb 8: Development organizations Part 2 – Regional Development Organizations (The Asian Development Bank)
  • Feb 13: The United Nations General Assembly
  • Feb 15: The United Nations Security Council Part 1
  • Feb 20: The United Nations Security Council Part 2 – Reform
  • Feb 22: The United Nations Security Council Part 3 – A new permanent seat for Japan?
  • Feb 27: Human Rights Part 1 – The United Nations Human Rights Conventions
  • Mar 1: Human Rights Part 2 – The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
  • Spring Break Mar 4-12
  • Mar 13: Review for the Mid-term Exam
  • Mar 15: Mid-term Exam
  • Mar 20: TBA
  • Mar 22: The World Trade Organization
  • Mar 27: Regional Trade Organizations: Mercosur
  • Mar 29: The Institutions of the European Union
  • Apr 3: The European Monetary Union
  • Apr 5: Preferential Trade Agreements
  • Apr 10: What role do international organizations play in promoting democracy?
  • Easter Break Apr 13-17
  • Apr 17: Who wins the Olympic Games?
  • Apr 19: Global cooperation on the environment: culture & institutions
  • Apr 24: Whither global governance?
  • Apr 26: Review for the final examination
  • Final Exam: Friday, May 11, 4pm-6pm

    Course Description:

    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:

  • Does this international organization represent anything more than the interests of its most powerful members?
  • How are the foreign policy goals of its most powerful members pursued – or not?
  • What role do domestic politics play when countries interact with the international organizations?
  • How does the pursuit of the private incentives of individuals working in IOs influence IO effectiveness?
  • What ideas and norms in international politics influenced the creation of the various IOs and what impact have the IOs in turn had on international ideas and norms?

    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.


    Learning Goals:

    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...


    Learning Methodology:

    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.

  • Doing the readings prior to class will help the students follow and participate in the class sessions.
  • Class sessions will combine a mix of lecture and discussion with puzzles for the students to grapple with as a group. Class notes will be made available to students after each session. The reason to provide the notes only after class is to keep students engaged in an "active" learning mode. The notes include puzzles, questions, and answers. It is important for students not to be able to see the answers to puzzles until we have struggled through them as a group. Beware of my randomize-student-selector. I will use it to call on you to keep you on your toes!
  • Music will be employed to reinforce key lessons (played at the beginning and end of classes - mostly just for fun!). A key theme for the course will be Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” LeAnn Rimes' "Commitment" will also feature prominently. We will also reference “The Dark Knight Theme” by Hans Zimmer, “Stay Together” by 2NE1, “Let’s Stay Together,” by Al Green, “One Love” and “No Woman No Cry” by Bob Marley, and, importantly, “Highway to Hell” by ACDC.
  • Movies illustrate in dramatic fashion some key lessons. If you’re looking for a relaxing way to prepare for class, familiarity with The Godfather could prove useful. (Advanced students may wish to read The Godfather Doctrine: A Foregin Policy Parable. Other films may include Invictus, The Dark Knight, The Whistleblower, It's a Wonderful Life, Hotel Rwanda, La Misma Luna, Biutiful, Shinjuku Incident, No Man's Land, The Yes Men, and many Star Wars references. ("Hey, I'm a movie guy. I can rattle off a bunch of movies.")
  • In class, we will watch short video clips illustrating historical events, including the beggar-thy-neighbor policies leading up to the Great Depression, a currency run, and the end of the Bretton Woods exchange rate system.
  • Human pyramid to reinforce the trilemma. Nuff said.

  • Requirements:

    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.

    Nota bene:
    Please be sure to familiarize yourself with Georgetown’s honor system.


    The course books are available for purchase at the Georgetown Bookstore and on reserve at the library:




    Course Outline


    Jan 11: Introduction to International Organizations


    Jan 16: What is the role of international organizations and do they really matter?


    Jan 18: The IMF Part 1 – History and Background


    Jan 23: The IMF Part 2 – Who controls the IMF?


    Jan 25: The IMF Part 3 – Why do governments enter into IMF programs and with what effects?


    Jan 30: Regional Monetary Funds?


    Feb 1: Development organizations Part 1 – The World Bank

    Feb 6: International institutions, cooperation, and sacrifice through the music of Bob Marley


    Feb 8: Development organizations Part 2 – Regional Development Organizations


    Feb 13: The United Nations General Assembly


    Feb 15: The United Nations Security Council Part 1



    Feb 20: The United Nations Security Council Part 2 – Reform


    Feb 22: The United Nations Security Council Part 3 – A new permanent seat for Japan?


    Feb 27: Human Rights Part 1 – The United Nations Human Rights Conventions



    Mar 1: Human Rights Part 2 – The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms


    March 13: Review for the Mid-term Exam


    DID YOU REMEMBER TO READ THIS YET?
  • Lim, Daniel Yew Mao and James Raymond Vreeland. 2013. Regional Organizations and International Politics: Japanese Influence over the Asian Development Bank and the UN Security Council. World Politics 65 (1): 34-72.



  • March 15: Mid-term Exam



    Mar 20: TBA

      REQUIRED READING ASSIGNMENT:
    • TBA

      SUGGESTED further reading:
    • TBA


    Mar 22: The World Trade Organization



    Mar 27: Regional Trade Organizations: Mercosur



    Mar 29: The Institutions of the European Union



    Apr 3: The European Monetary Union



    Apr 5: The depth of Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs)



    Apr 10: What role do international organizations play in promoting democracy?



    Apr 17: Who wins the Olympic Games?



    Apr 19: Global cooperation on the environment: culture & institutions



    Apr 24: Whither global governance?

      REQUIRED READING ASSIGNMENT:
    • None



    Apr 26: Review for final examination

      REQUIRED READING ASSIGNMENT:
    • None




    WE ARE GLOBAL GEORGETOWN!