The United States in Global Affairs
Course Syllabus
Peter Lassey
plassey@berwickacademy.org

Course Description:

This discussion and project-based seminar will introduce the fundamentals of international politics by exploring the “current history” of global affairs. Combining current events and recent history, we will explore the geographic, cultural, political and economic forces that continue to shape our world. With a focus on building essential skills for college, you will complete a number of projects and participate in three topical simulations that focus on American foreign policy toward global security, human rights, poverty, the environment, or economic globalization. Moreover, you will be challenged to pursue your own topics of interest, stay abreast of current events, and start to develop your own role as a citizen in our global community.

The goals for this seminar are centered around these guiding questions:
  1. What is the role of the United States in the global community? How did this develop in the 20th century? What should it be in the future?
  2. How has the world order changed in the past century? What will a “new world order” look like?
  3. What challenges will shape global affairs in the future? Can we all get along? Can we survive?
  4. What is my role in the global community?

Required Reading:
The Global Future: A Brief Introduction to World Politics, 3rd Edition; Kegley/Raymond
ISBN10: 0-495-56927-5, ISBN13: 978-0-495-56927-5

Rather than purchasing the entire textbook, you are encouraged to purchase and download the
  • Chapter 1: Exploring 21st Century World Politics -
  • Chapter 2: Theories of World Politics -
  • Chapter 4: Great-Power Rivalry and the Lure of Hegemony: Cycles of War and Peace in Modern World History
  • Chapter 5: Rich and Poor in World Politics: The Plight of the Global South
  • Chapter 6: Nonstate Actors and the Challenge of Global Governance

Additional sources for this course will be furnished throughout the semester. It will combine a variety of print and online resources and will include historical texts, recent periodicals, and current media.

Current Events Students will select, after collaborating with their instructor, one periodical (either in print or online) they can access for international news. These can be found in the library, or can be a subscription from home.

Evaluation:
  • Final Portfolio (50%): This is intended to be an electronic portfolio of your work this trimester. It will combine your own individual research as well as your response to assigned readings.
  • Geography (20%): There will be 6 weekly quizzes focusing on different regions of the world, their political boundaries, landforms, waterways, and topical relevance.
  • Current Events Journal (20%): You will be expected to write a weekly journal reflecting on current events. Each entry should summarize and reflect on a current news story relevant to global affairs. You are encouraged to explore issues that are either particularly interesting to you or are particularly relevant to the topics we are discussing in class.
  • Participation (10%): In a discussion-based class, student participation is essential. Therefore, students are expected to participate daily by preparing for class, engaging in discussion, and actively contributing to group projects.