International relations is one of the most dynamic and important areas of political science today. Traditionally, international relations focused on relations between national governments, taking them as the dominant actors on the world stage. Over the past several decades, however, the world has shifted away from the traditional state-dominated model of international politics to a more complex one in which transnational corporations, financial markets, international institutions, non-governmental organizations, and terrorist groups have joined governments to give shape to a rapidly changing and, at times, highly unpredictable global political environment. In addition, challenges like the global economic crisis of 2008 and climate change have highlighted the growing need for co-operation between national governments and other important social and economic actors.
These changes and challenges raise the question of what role conventional international politics will play in a world that is increasingly characterized by the mutual dependency of different peoples and regions for things like food, water, energy, economic growth, and security. This course will introduce students to the study of international relations by placing it against the backdrop of the present day globalized world. In this way, it will help students to not only better understand current global politics, but to comprehend and even anticipate future changes.