This year we are all directly and personally affected by global challenges, under the form of the COVID-19 pandemic. To fulfill the needs of social distancing and safe environments imposed by the situation, the course will be taught in what has been dubbed a “blended” modality, some time you will be physically in class, attending in person, while in other times you will attend only at a distance, using internet and an online mode. This is the first time I use such a teaching mode. I will try to do my best to make the experience as smooth and effective as possible, but please be aware that there might be blunders and unexpected problems to address.
Keeping all this in mind, the course is organized in three modules.
• In the first module the main concepts and theories at different levels of analysis will be discussed: the international system, dyadic relationships, the domestic sources of foreign policies, decision-makers roles, and psychology in IR. We will do so using a case study: the outbreak of WWI.
• The second module will develop a role-playing simulation. We will use a set of case studies taken from the experience of the EU external cultural relations.
• The third module will focus our attention on the role of culture in international relations, both as a cause and as an effect of foreign policy drawing upon the experience of the role-playing simulation.
Through lectures and readings, group discussions, individual and group exercises, case teachings and out-of-class home-take activities, this course intends to provide the conceptual tools and methodological skills that will enable the student to form her/his own critical judgments about some of the most topical issues in IR. You are expected to play an active learning role both in class and at home. You are invited to carefully study and prepare all assignments. I will do my best to lure you out of passivity if needed. Each week we will cover a different theoretical approach, level of analysis or issue. In some portions of our class, I will adopt a “flipping the class” learning strategy, meaning that you will read assigned readings first while at home and we will then use class time to discuss the new information and put some of the ideas you learned at home into practice. I am also a believer in the importance of teamwork. This is not only because sometimes we all need a little help from one another to learn how to study for a test or complete an assignment but also because making things together often turns out to make both what we do and us better.