Blog Assignment–PLSC 250-Introduction to International Relations

The function of your blog will be to select, research, analyze, and contribute knowledge and information on a topic of interest to you (the group will select one topic only) in international relations. As we address the theories and principles of international relations over the course of the semester, you will post to your blog analyzing how these theories, principles, and ideas apply to your chosen topic. The goal is for your group to learn more about that topic than we could ever hope to cover in class over the course of a single semester. You will have to post your topic of choice, and a brief description of the topic, by midnight, Sunday, January 27th.

There is a myriad of topics in international relations that may be of interest to you. To help you begin to narrow down your choice of topic, go to the index of Mingst’s Essentials, and browse the list of entries.

Having now just flipped through the index, I find that I may want to choose as my topic:

  • An analysis of nuclear weapons treaties
  • Acid rain pollution
  • the AIDS epidemic
  • do a comparative case study of NGO, such as the Aizhi Action Project, which are addressing the AIDS epidemic world-wide. It may be interesting to comparatively analyze the work of two NGOs, one of which is in a developed, and the other in a developing country. (I have heard that Brazilian NGOs are amongst the best in the world in creating effective solutions to the spread of AIDS. You may want to investigate whether that claim withstands scrutiny.)
  • The effect of television news on public attitudes around the world (compare Al Jazeera to CNN or Fox News)
  • Do a study of Al Qaeda
  • Look at the role of peacekeepers in Bosnia and some other country.
  • Analyze the role of MNCs such as the British East India Company, or Microsoft.
  • Analyze the Cold War
  • Critically analyze the claims of both sides in the DDT (insecticide) debate.
  • Look at ethnonationalist movements like ETA (the Basque country) and the IRA. Why has one decided to use negotiations and stop using violence and the other continues to use violence?
  • Look at the importance (strategic, environmental, political) of energy (in)dependence. Contrast the US with China, for example.
  • Analyze the impact of the International Criminal Court (ICC)
  • etc., etc., etc.,

If you are still having difficulty selecting your topic, you can find help at the International Studies Association (ISA) paper archive: This is an archive of papers that have been presented at recent annual conventions of the International Studies Association. It is full of potential topics.

Select a year from the “Visit Archive” pull-down menu. Then click “Browse Papers” on the upper-right portion of the page. You will now be presented with a list of <font class=”headingtext”>divisions, roundtables and sessions, papers from which you can browse. Select a division that seems interesting to you and browse through the papers in that division. Do this until you find a topic that you feel you may be interested in and may want to spend the semester exploring in greater detail.

Here are some titles of papers that address topics that may be of interest to you:

  • “Child Domestic Workers in Bangladesh: An Exploratory Study of Health Consequences of Child Domestic Workers in Dhaka”
  • Pushkina, Darya. “Cooperation or Conflict: Water in Central Asia”
  • Dietrich, John. “U.S. International AIDS Programs: A New Model of Humanitarian Initiatives?”
  • Ferguson, Yale. and Mansbach, Richard.”Superpower, Hegemony, Empire”
  • Qualtire, Karen. and Hansen, Michelle. “A Grassroots Caravan for Justice Targets Femicide in Cuidad Juarez”
  • West, Steven. and Bushnak, Tarik. “Challenges in the Creation of a New Dialogue Between Westerners and Muslims”
  • Buhr, Renee. “Bad Neighbors on the Border, Bad Neighbors Within: Necessary and Sufficient Conditions Favoring Ethnic War in Post-Soviet States”
  • Achvarina, Vera. and Reich, Simon. “Why Do Children ‘Fight’? Explaining The Phenomenon of Child Soldiers in African Intra-State Conflicts”
  • Bucheli, Marcelo. “Multinational Corporate Strategy in the Face of Host Country Nationalism: The Case of Standard Oil Co. (New Jersey) in Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela, 1917-1976”
  • Sgoutas, Arlene. “Women’s Resistance in a Global Context”

Given that the latter part of the course will be used to address ethical concerns in international politics, you may choose to use your blog to analyze an ethical problem. To help you learn about some of the more important ethical issues in international politics, you can browse through issues of the journal Ethics and International Affairs.