PSCI 4820/4828: Geography, History, and International Relations

Dr. Paul Hensel
phensel@unt.edu
http://www.paulhensel.org
Office: 165 Wooten Hall

FALL 2021: This course is currently scheduled to be taught in a standard face-to-face format, although UNT may change class formats based on the pandemic (administrators have meetings planned for June 1 and August 1 to evaluate the situation and recommend any needed changes). The assigned books/readings for the course and the outline of topics to be taught will not change from the Fall 2020 syllabus, when the class was taught in a hybrid "partially remote" format (lecture videos posted online, then meet in person to discuss the readings and their implications). There may be some change in the assignments, though, as I decide between the assignments I used for that hybrid format and those that I had used previously when the class was taught fully face-to-face; I may not make a final decision on some of the assignments until late in the summer, when we have a better idea of the pandemic situation and the need to keep the course flexible enough to deal with potential changes during the semester.

Please note that this web page is not the full syllabus for this course. The complete syllabus -- including the schedule of assigned readings, course exams, and other assignments -- is only available in the full syllabus (in PDF format). Be sure to print out that complete syllabus and be familiar with it, so that you do not fall behind or miss any assignments during the semester.

Course Description

Most political scientists study international relations "in a vacuum," without reference to the geographic and historical context in which events take place. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the impact of geography and history on international relations, and to reexamine traditional international relations phenomena such as trade or military conflict with a consideration for the influence of historical and geographic factors. A more technically accurate title might be "Geographic and Historical Influences on International Relations," although that is too long to fit in the schedule of classes. Upon completion of this course, students should have a better understanding of how geographical and historical forces influence international relations, and should be able to apply these concepts in following world events. The course will require a range of readings, regular attendance, two essay exams, and a research paper.

It should be noted that this class will address these topics theoretically, drawing from contemporary political science research; this will not be a class in current events. Also, this is NOT a course in geography or history, but rather a course on the ways that geographic and historical factors can influence international relations. The topics covered in this course are traditionally seen as political science topics, and most of the readings and lecture materials are based on research by political scientists that was published in political science journals. Students interested in geography or history as the main topics of analysis are urged to take coursework from UNT's Geography or History departments.

Required Texts

Course Requirements

Rest of Syllabus

The remainder of the syllabus -- course rules, notes about the academic honor code and the Americans with Disabilities Act, assigned readings, and details about the research papers -- is only available in the complete syllabus (in PDF format). Be sure to print out that complete syllabus and be familiar with it, so that you do not fall behind or miss any assignments during the semester.




World News Resources

These are good examples of some of the new sources available on the Internet that international relations scholars can follow. You may find these to be helpful in writing the analytical papers that are required for this course. Note that the point here isn't to endorse news from a particular national or political viewpoint, but to see how major news sources around the world are covering a topic; you will often find that the BBC or Xinhua (for example) are covering stories that aren't in any of the major American papers, and each of these news sources will often provide details that the others missed.

In most cases, these links are to the main news page on each site. Many of these sites offer regional or topical news pages, with many more news stories than they could fit on their main page, so you may want to explore these pages as well as the main headlines page. Many of these sites also offer RSS/Atom feeds, which makes it easy to follow news headlines automatically in your favorite feed reader/aggregator.

World News Sites

These sources offer good coverage of events around the world (please note that I have tried to limit this to sources that provide original content, rather than sources that primarily repackage stories from the major news agencies):

Newspapers and Similar Sources:

News Agencies:

Regional News Sites

These sources may include some coverage of events across the world, but they are best at covering certain regions, offering news or details that the more global sites listed above may miss:

Other News-Related Links on My Web Site


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Last updated: 16 April 2021
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