17.418 Field Seminar in International Relations Theory

Fall 2005

World leaders at the G8 Summit.President George W. Bush talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao, left, during a luncheon with world leaders during the G8 Summit at the Konstantinovsky Palace Complex in Strelna, Russia in July 2006. Also pictured is Russian President Vladimir Putin, and South African President Thabo Mbeki, far-right. (Photo courtesy of the White House Photo Essays.)

Course Highlights

This course features a detailed list of its assignments and readings.

Course Description

This seminar provides an overview of the field of international relations. Each week, a different approach to explaining international relations will be examined. By surveying major concepts and theories in the field, the seminar will also assist graduate students in preparing for the comprehensive examination and further study in the department's more specialized offerings in international relations, including 17.420, 17.422, 17.424, 17.430, 17.432 and 17.468. Master's students and undergraduates may enroll only with the instructor's permission.


Course Requirements

A successful seminar requires attendance at every meeting, completion of all readings and active, engaged participation. To stimulate discussion, students may be assigned to give short presentations on assigned readings or to serve as "resident expert" for that week's readings.

In addition, this seminar has three writing assignments: short essays, a take-home exercise or research design paper, and research memos. Additional details can be found in the assignments section.


Grades will be determined as follows:

Short Essays30%
Final Exercise or Research Design Paper30%
Research Memos10%


2Anarchy and Power I
3Anarchy and Power II
4International Regimes and Institutions
5Strategic Interaction
6Norms and International Society
7Identity and Agent-Structure Interactions
8Leaders, Psychology and Perceptions
9International Relations and Foreign Policy
10Domestic Preferences and Norms
11Domestic Political Structures
12Domestic Institutions and Organizations
13Paradigms or Problems? (Optional Wrap-up Class)


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Required Readings

Amazon logo Bull, Hedley. The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1995. ISBN: 9780231102971.

Amazon logo Freeman, Charles. The Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1997. ISBN: 9781878379658.

Amazon logo Gilpin, Robert. War and Change in World Politics. Reprinted. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1983. ISBN: 9780521273763.

Amazon logo Waltz, Kenneth N. Theory of International Politics. New York, NY: McGraw Hill, 1979. ISBN: 9780075548522.

Amazon logo ———. Man, The State and War. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780231125376.

Readings by Session

1IntroductionFreeman, Charles. Arts of Power.

Waltz. Theory of International Politics. Chapter 1.
2Anarchy and Power IWaltz. Man, The State and War. Chapters 2, 4, 6, and 7.

———. Theory of International Politics. Chapters 5, 6, 8, and skim chapter 7.

Wagner, R. Harrison. "What Was Bipolarity?" International Organization 47, no. 1 (Winter 1993): 77-106.

Wohlforth, William C. "The Stability of a Unipolar World." International Security 24, no. 1 (Summer 1999): 5-41.
3Anarchy and Power IIGilpin. War and Change in World Politics. Esp. chapters 1, 2, 5, and epilogue.

Schweller, Randall L. "Neorealism's Status Quo Bias: What Security Dilemma?" Security Studies 5, no. 3 (1996): 90-121.

Amazon logo Mearsheimer, John J. Tragedy of Great Power Politics. New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2001, pp. 1-54. ISBN: 9780393020250.

Schroeder, Paul. "Historical Reality vs. Neo-Realist Theory." International Security 19, no. 1 (Summer 1994): 108-148.

Krasner, Stephen D. "State Power and the Structure of Foreign Trade." World Politics 28, no. 3 (April 1976): 317-347.
4International Regimes and InstitutionsAxelrod, Robert. "Effective Choice in the Prisoner's Dilemma." Journal of Conflict Resolution 24, no. 1 (March 1980): 3-25.

Krasner, Stephen D. "Structural Causes and Regime Consequences: Regimes as Intervening Variables." International Organization 36, no. 2 (Spring 1982): 185-205.

Keohane, Robert O. "The Demand for International Regimes." International Organization 36, no. 2 (Spring 1982): 325-355.

Stein, Arthur A. "Coordination and Collaboration: Regimes in an Anarchic World." International Organization 36, no. 2 (Spring 1982): 299-324.

Snidal, Duncan. "The Limits of Hegemonic Stability Theory." International Organization 39, no. 4 (Autumn 1985): 579-614.

Downs, George W., David M. Rocke, and Peter N. Barsoom. "Is the Good News about Compliance Good News about Cooperation?" International Organization 50, no. 3 (Summer 1996): 379-406.

Pierson, Paul. "The Path to European Integration: A Historical Institutionalist Analysis." Comparative Political Studies 29, no. 2 (April 1996): 123-164.

Martin, Lisa L., and Beth A. Simmons. "Theories and Empirical Studies of International Institutions." International Organization 53, no. 4 (Autumn 1998): 729-757.
5Strategic InteractionAmazon logo Lake, David A., and Robert Powell. "International Relations: A Strategic Choice Approach." In Strategic Choice and International Relations. Edited by David A. Lake and Robert Powell. Princeton, NY: Princeton University Press, 1999, pp. 1-38. ISBN: 9780691026978.

Amazon logo Morrow, James. "The Strategic Setting of Choices: Signaling, Commitment and Negotiation." In Strategic Choice and International Relations. Edited by David A. Lake and Robert Powell. Princeton, NY: Princeton University Press, 1999, pp. 1-38. ISBN: 9780691026978.

Jervis, Robert. "Cooperation under the Security Dilemma." World Politics no. 2 (January 1978): 167-214.

Fearon, James D. "Rationalists Explanations for War." International Organization 49, no. 3 (Summer 1995): 379-414.

———. "Bargaining, Enforcement, and International Cooperation." International Organization 52, no. 2 (Spring 1998): 269-305.

Goldsmith, Jack L., and Eric A. Posner. "Moral and Legal Rhetoric in International Relations: A Rational Choice Perspective." Journal of Legal Studies 31, no. 1 (January 2002).
6Norms and International SocietyBull, Hedley. The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics. pp. 1-77, and skim pp. 101-183.

Buzan, Barry. "From International System to International Society: Structural Realism and Regime Theory Meet the English School." International Organization 47, no. 3 (Summer 1993): 327-352.

Kocs, Stephen A. "Explaining the Strategic Behavior of States: International Law as System Structure." International Studies Quarterly 38, no. 4 (December 1994): 535-556.

Finnemore, Martha, and Kathryn Sikkink. "International Norm Dynamics and Political Change." International Organization 52, no. 4 (1998): 887-917.

Gelpi, Christopher. "Crime and Punishment: The Role of Norms in Crisis Bargaining." American Political Science Review 91, no. 2 (June 1997): 339-360.

Spruyt, Hendrik. "The End of Empire and the Extension of the Westphalian System." International Studies Review 2, no. 2 (Summer 2000): 65-92.
7Identity and Agent-Structure InteractionsWendt, Alexander. "Anarchy is what States Make of it: The Social Construction of Power Politics." International Organization 46, no. 2 (Spring 1992): 391-425.

Adler, Emanuel. "Seizing the Middle Ground: Constructivism in World Politics." European Journal of International Relations 3, no. 3 (1997): 319-363.

Amazon logo Jepperson, Ronald L., Alexander Wendt, and Peter J. Katzenstein. "Norms, Identity and Culture in National Security." In The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics. Edited by Peter J. Katzenstein. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1996, pp. 216-270. ISBN: 9780231104692.

Risse, Thomas. "'Let's Argue!': Communicative Action in World Politics." International Organization 54, no. 1 (Winter 2000): 1-39.

Tickner, J. Ann. "You Just Don't Understand: Troubled Engagements between Feminists and IR Theorists." International Studies Quarterly 41, no. 4 (December 1997): 611-632.

Mitzen, Jennifer. "Reading Habermas in Anarchy: Multilateral Diplomacy and Global Public Spheres." American Political Science Review 99, no. 3 (August 2005): 401-417.

Amazon logo Fearon, James D., and Alexander Wendt. "Rationalism and Constructivism in International Relations Theory." In Handbook of International Relations. Edited by Walter Carlsnaes, Thomas Risse, and Beth A. Simmons. London, UK: Sage Publications, 2002, pp. 52-72. ISBN: 9780761963042.
8Leaders, Psychology and PerceptionsByman, Daniel L., and Kenneth M. Pollack. "Let Us Now Praise Great Men: Bringing the Statesman Back In." International Security 25, no. 4 (March 2001): 107-146.

Jervis, Robert. "Hypotheses on Misperception." World Politics 20, no. 3 (April 1968): 454-479.

Stein, Arthur A. "When Misperceptions Matter." World Politics 34, no. 4 (July 1982): 505-526.

Wohlforth, William C. "The Perception of Power: Russia in the Pre-1914 Balance." World Politics 39, no. 3 (April 1987): 353-381.

Levy, Jack S. "An Introduction to Prospect Theory." Political Psychology 13, no. 2 (June 1992): 171-186.

Taliaferro, Jeffrey. "Power Politics and the Balance-of-Risk: Hypotheses on Great Power Intervention in the Periphery." Political Psychology 25, no. 2 (March 2004): 177-211.

Mercer, Jonathan. "Rationality and Psychology in International Politics." International Organization 59, no. 1 (Winter 2005): 77-106.
9International Relations and Foreign PolicyElman, Colin. "Horses for Courses: Why Not Neorealist Theories of Foreign Policy?" Security Studies 6, no. 1 (Autumn 1996): 7-53, and Waltz response.

Fearon, James D. "Domestic Politics, Foreign Policy, and Theories of International Relations." Annual Review of Political Science 1 (1998): 289-313.

Putnam, Robert. "Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level Games." International Organization 2, no. 3 (Summer 1988): 427-460.

Ikenberry, G. John, David A. Lake, and Michael Mastanduno. "Introduction: Approaches to Explaining American Foreign Economic Policy." International Organization 42, no. 1 (Winter 1988): 1-14.

———. "Toward a Realist Theory of State Action." International Studies Quarterly 33, no. 4 (December 1989): 457-474.

Hudson, Valerie M. "Foreign Policy Analysis: Actor-Specific Theory and the Ground of International Relations." Foreign Policy Analysis 1, no. 1 (2005): 1-30.

Snyder, Jack. "Science And Sovietology: Bridging The Methods Gap in Soviet Foreign Policy Studies." World Politics 40, no. 2 (January 1988): 169-194.
10Domestic Preferences and NormsMoravcsik, Andrew. "Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics." International Organization 51, no. 4 (Autumn 1997): 512-553.

Legro, Jeffrey W. "Whence American Internationalism." International Organization 54, no. 2 (Spring 2000): 253-289.

Narizny, Kevin. "The Political Economy of Alignment: Great Britain's Commitments to Europe, 1905-39." International Security 27, no. 4 (Spring 2003): 184-219.

Haas, Mark L. "Ideology And Alliances: British And French External Balancing Decisions In The 1930s." Security Studies 12, no. 4 (Summer 2003): 34-79.

Friedberg, Aaron L. "Why Didn't the United States Become a Garrison State?" International Security 16, no. 4 (Spring 1992): 109-142.

Amazon logo Johnston, Alastair Iain. "Cultural Realism and Strategy in Maoist China." In The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics. Edited by Peter J. Katzenstein. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1996, pp. 216-270. ISBN: 9780231104692.

Amazon logo Goldstein, Judith, and Robert Keohane, eds. "Ideas and Foreign Policy: An Analytical Framework." In Ideas and Foreign Policy: Beliefs, Institutions, and Political Change. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994, pp. 3-30. ISBN: 9780801499883.
11Domestic Political StructuresDoyle, Michael W. "Liberalism and World Politics." The American Political Science Review 80, no. 4 (December 1986): 1151-1169.

Owen, John M. "How Liberalism Produces Democratic Peace." International Security 19, no. 2 (Autumn 1994): 87-125.

Maoz, Zeev, and Bruce Russett. "Normative and Structural Causes of the Democratic Peace." American Political Science Review 87, no. 3 (September 1993): 624-638.

Fearon, James D. "Domestic Political Audiences and the Escalation of International Disputes." American Political Science Review 88, no. 3 (September 1994): 577-592.

Schultz, Kenneth A. "Do Democratic Institutions Constrain or Inform? Contrasting Two Institutional Perspectives on Democracy and War." International Organization 53, no. 2 (Spring 1999): 233-266.

Rosato, Sebastian. "The Flawed Logic of Democratic Peace Theory." American Political Science Review 97, no. 4 (November 2003): 585-602.

Mansfield, Edward, and Jack L. Snyder. "Democratic Transitions, Institutional Strength, and War. " International Organization 56, no. 2 (Spring 2002): 297-337.
12Domestic Institutions and OrganizationsAllison, Graham T. "Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis." The American Political Science Review 63, no. 3 (September 1969): 689-718.

Krasner, Stephen. "Are Bureaucracies Important? Or Allison Wonderland." Foreign Policy 7 (1972): 159-179.

Amazon logo Levy, Jack S. "The Diversionary Theory of War: A Critique." In Handbook of War Studies. Edited by Manus I. Midlarsky. London, UK: Routledge, 1989, pp. 259-288. ISBN: 9780044970552.

Amazon logo Snyder, Jack L. Myths of Empire: Domestic Politics and International Ambition. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993, chapters 1-2. ISBN: 9780801497643.

David, Steven R. "Explaining Third World Alignment." World Politics 43, no. 1 (January 1991): 233-256.

Gause, F. Gregory, III. "Balancing What? Threat Perception And Alliance Choice In The Gulf." Security Studies 13, no. 2 (Winter 2003/2004): 273-305.

Herbst, Jeffrey. "War and the State in Africa." International Security 14, no. 4 (Spring 1990): 117-139.
13Paradigms or Problems? (Optional Wrap-up Class)Katzenstein, Peter J., Robert O. Keohane, and Stephen D. Krasner. "International Organization and the Study of World Politics." International Organization 53, no. 4 (Autumn 1998): 645-685.


The assignments constitute a substantial part of a student's final grade. Descriptions of the course assignments are presented below.

Writing Assignments

Short Essays

Three short essays of no more than 1,000 words will be assigned. The essays should critically examine a hypothesis, theory, question, concept or controversy contained in the readings for each week. The essay may address only a subset of the readings, but under no circumstances should the essay summarize assigned texts. A copy of the essay must be e-mailed to Professor Fravel as an attachment (.doc or .pdf) by 5 pm on the day preceding each meeting.

Take-home Exercise or Research Design Paper

Either a take-home exercise or a research design paper of no more than 3,000 words in length is due at the end of the term. The question for the take-home will be distributed during Lec #12 and will be designed to assess critically the material from the seminar. The research design paper should:

Research Memos

Research memos of no more than 250 words will also be assigned. Based loosely on the topic or issues raised in discussion each week, these memos should outline a hypothesis, state its importance and describe how it might be tested. The memo should be emailed to Professor Fravel within 24 hours after each meeting with the subject heading "17.418 memo."



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