International Political Thought

A.Y. 2019/2020
6
Max ECTS
40
Overall hours
SSD
SPS/04
Language
English
Learning objectives
The course aims at providing an advanced understanding of contemporary world politics, building on a prior knowledge of traditional International Relations Theory. The overall objective is to enable students to map the key issues concerning the way in which international politics is studied and interpreted. The approach adopted is twofold: on the one hand, the course offers a critical assessment of international political thought through the analysis of some prominent Western thinkers; on the other hand, the course introduces students to the debate on the so-called non-Western International Relations Theories. This will help students to strengthen their awareness of the theoretical lenses that orient the way in which scholars, analysts and decision-makers understand international politics. In doing this, the course will provide students with advanced theoretical tools for the analysis of current political processes at the global and regional level, thus contributing to the learning objectives of the "International Politics and Regional Dynamics" curriculum of the Master's programme in International Relations.
Expected learning outcomes
By the end of the course, students will have consolidated their theoretical understanding of some of the most important issues in the current debates on international politics. In addition, they will have familiarized with the pluralization that increasingly characterizes international political thought, with the contestation of the Western-centric tradition of International Relations Theory, and with attempts at establishing alternative theoretical traditions. Finally, students will have further refined soft skills coherent with the wider objectives of the Master's programme: they will have consolidated their command of the special language of International Relations Theory, familiarized with the role that different historical and cultural backgrounds play in orienting the interpretation of international political phenomena, and developed their ability to critically present and discuss complex theoretical issues.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Responsible
Lesson period
Third trimester
Course syllabus
ATTENDING STUDENTS
The first part of the course introduces the students to International Political Theory as a separate field of enquiry from traditional International Relations (IR). Based on the history of international thought, it delves into key issues of international politics - i.e. sovereignty, global justice, just war, humanitarian intervention. Those issues are explored in the light of some influential Western thinkers and their reflections on world politics (Hans Morgenthau, Edward Carr, Micheal Walzer and others). The second part of the course addresses a specific case of non-Western international political thought: Chinese theories of international politics. It starts from China's traditional view of international relations, with a focus on the tianxia discourse underpinning tributary relations between China and other East Asian states before Western colonization. It moves then to the development of IR studies in China after 1949 and concludes with the current debate on the so-called Chinese School of International Relations.
NON-ATTENDING STUDENTS
The first part of the course introduces the students to International Political Theory as a separate field of enquiry from traditional International Relations (IR). Based on the history of international thought, it delves into key issues of international politics - i.e. sovereignty, global justice, just war, humanitarian intervention. The second part of the course turns to the debate on the so-called non-Western International Relations Theories, with a focus on Asian cases.
Prerequisites for admission
Although the course is open to all students, irrespective of their background, a strong preliminary knowledge of International Relations Theory is assumed.
Teaching methods
Lectures and class presentations by attending students based on pre-assigned readings.
Teaching Resources
ATTENDING STUDENTS
PART 1.
- Chris Brown (2002), Sovereignty, Rights and Justice. International Political Theory Today (Cambridge: Polity).
PART 2.
Reading list for attending students (all the papers will be provided at the beginning of the course):
- Amitav Acharya and Barry Buzan (2010), "Why Is There No Non-Western International Relations Theory?", in Amitav Acharya and Barry Buzan (eds.), Non-Western International Relations Theory. Perspectives On and Beyond Asia (London: Routledge), pp. 1-25; ALTERNATIVELY in International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, Vol. 7, No. 3 (2007), pp. 287-312.
- John K. Fairbank (1974), "A Preliminary Framework", in John K. Fairbank (ed.), The Chinese World Order. Traditional China's Foreign Relations (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, first edition 1968), pp. 1-19.
- David Kang (2012), East Asia Before the West. Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute (New York: Columbia University Press), only Chapter 4: "Diplomacy: The Tribute System", pp. 54-81.
- Alastair I. Johnston (1995), Cultural Realism. Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History (Princeton: Princeton University Press), only Chapter 3: "Chinese Strategic Culture and the Parabellum Paradigm", pp. 61-108; ALTERNATIVELY: Zhang Yongjin and Barry Buzan (2012), "The Tributary System as International Society in Theory and Practice", The Chinese Journal of International Politics, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 3-36.
- Lu Peng (2014), "Pre-1949 Chinese IR: An Occluded History", Australian Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 68, No. 2, pp. 133-155.
- Qin Yaqin (2010), "Why Is There No Chinese International Relations Theory?", in Amitav Acharya and Barry Buzan (eds.), Non-Western International Relations Theory. Perspectives On and Beyond Asia (London: Routledge), pp. 26-50; ALTERNATIVELY in International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, Vol. 7, No. 3 (2007), pp. 313-340.
- Wang Hung-Jen (2013), "Being Uniquely Universal: Building Chinese International Relations Theory", Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 22, No. 81, pp. 518-534.
- Lu Peng (2019), "Chinese IR Sino-Centrism Tradition and Its Influence on the Chinese School Movement", Pacific Review, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 150-167.
NON-ATTENDING STUDENTS
PART 1.
- Chris Brown (2002), Sovereignty, Rights and Justice. International Political Theory Today (Cambridge: Polity).
- Edward H. Carr (1939), The Twenty Years' Crisis 1919-1939 (London: Palgrave) - Chapters I and II, "Beginning of a Science" and "Utopia and Reality".
- Michael Walzer (1977), Just and Unjust Wars (New York: Basic Books) - Chapter I, "Against Realism".
PART 2.
- Amitav Acharya and Barry Buzan (eds.) (2010), Non-Western International Relations Theory. Perspectives On and Beyond Asia (London: Routledge).
Assessment methods and Criteria
ATTENDING STUDENTS
For attending students, the final evaluation will be based on: (1) active participation during classes and the presentation of the assigned papers (30 percent of the final mark); and (2) an oral exam at the end of the course (70 percent of the final mark). The oral exam is aimed at assessing the students' ability to present the main issues addressed during the course in a clear and correct way, by using the special language of International Relations Theory and by making reference to the concepts, models and theories presented in the readings and in class. In order to assess the acquired skills, the oral examination engages the student in an interview based on 3 to 5 questions, with an approximate duration of 15-25 minutes.
NON-ATTENDING STUDENTS
For non-attending students, the final evaluation will be based on an oral exam at the end of the course aimed at assessing the students' ability to present the main issues addressed during the course in a clear and correct way, by using the special language of International Relations Theory and by making reference to the concepts, models and theories presented in the readings. In order to assess the acquired skills, the oral examination engages the student in an interview based on 3 to 5 questions, with an approximate duration of 15-25 minutes.
SPS/04 - POLITICAL SCIENCE - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Educational website(s)
Professor(s)
Reception:
On Tuesdays from 4.30 to 6.30 pm. Students are kindly requested to make an appointment in advance via email. Until the end of the Covid emergency, office hours will take place on Microsoft Teams.
Dipartimento di Studi internazionali, giuridici e storico-politici, via Conservatorio 7, 1st floor, room 8