concepts and theories of international relations

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General Guidelines:

Read this entire page before writing your essay. You will read a recently published opinion piece from either a major newspaper or policy think-tank, and then you will respond to the opinion expressed by writing a cohesive essay from your perspective as a scholar of international relations. Whether you agree with, disagree with, or have no position towards the opinion expressed in the article you choose, you should be able to offer a theoretically-informed analytical appraisal of the assigned article.

Purpose: By completing this assignment, you will reinforce your knowledge of concepts and theories of international relations learned over the second half of our course, and practice the following critical-thinking skills that are essential to your success as a student and to your future as a civically engaged citizen:

  • Applying basic disciplinary knowledge from international relations to analyzing and understanding contemporary events.
  • Analyze and evaluate the positions of other individuals on issues relevant to students of international relations and respond in a theoretically informed way.
  • Defending your positions/opinions in a well-supported and academically defensible way.

Choose one of the two options below. In response to the option that you choose, write a well-organized essay of not less than 500 words (approximately 2-3 double-spaced pages, excluding title and reference pages) that carefully addresses the prompt. Your essay must show direct evidence of reading the appropriate articles linked below, and also show direct evidence of application of concepts, theories, and/or approaches from the course materials (in particular from the course textbook). Therefore, it must include both in-text and reference citations in APA. Be sure to give your essay a title reflective of the option you choose. Your essay must be submitted to Canvas no later than 11:59 pm (CT) Friday, May 3rd. Late exams will NOT be accepted under any circumstances.

Option 1 – International Trade: Read one of the two opinion articles below:

Then, evaluate the article. Address at least the following in your cohesive essay built around a clear thesis statement (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (do not submit a list of bullet point responses – this will earn zero points; the expectation is a cohesive essay with a clear thesis statement and clear structure).

  • Summarize:
  • What is/are the major geopolitically-relevant issue(s) is the author writing about? Find at least one other source that addresses this issue (you might search your preferred news source and/or use Google News (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. or another news aggregator). Use the opinion piece above and the article you located to summarize the key features of the issue(s) addressed. Be sure to provide a full APA-style citation for the article you located in the works cited section of your essay.
  • Evaluate:
  • Identify the core opinion or arguments presented in the opinion piece. How does the assigned opinion piece diverge from merely factual reporting? Be specific.
  • Consider the levels of analysis (Ch. 1) and theoretical approaches (Ch’s 3, 4, and 14) we have examined in our course. What level(s) of analysis are utilized in advancing / informing the opinion presented in the article? What single theoretical approach is most consistent with the argument advanced / position taken in the article? Why? Be specific and support your evaluations with specific evidence from the assigned opinion piece.
  • Analyze:
  • The opinion piece discusses contemporary issues related to economic security, and specifically, trade and some elements of economic statecraft. Consider the goals and functions of international trade and of economic statecraft (described in Ch’s 8 and 9). Which of these goals and functions is being focused on in the piece? Is the prevailing liberal international economic order being defended or critiqued by the author? How so? Be specific and support your analysis with evidence from both the text and the assigned article.
  • Reflect:
    • In your theoretically-informed opinion, does the argument presented in the opinion piece argue in favor of, or against, increased economic security? Use concepts and evidence related to economic security from the course textbook (esp. Ch’s 8 & 9) to develop and support your opinion.
  • Do you agree with the opinion / proposed course of action presented in the opinion piece? Why or why not?

Option 2 – Human Rights & Human Security: Read one of the two opinion articles below:

Then, evaluate the article. Address at least the following in your cohesive essay built around a clear thesis statement (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (do not submit a list of bullet point responses – this will earn zero points; the expectation is a cohesive essay with a clear thesis statement and clear structure).

  • Summarize:
  • What is/are the major geopolitically-relevant issue(s) is the author writing about? Find at least one other source that addresses this issue (you might search your preferred news source and/or use Google News (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. or another news aggregator). Use the opinion piece above and the article you located to summarize the key features of the issue(s) addressed. Be sure to provide a full APA-style citation for the article you located in the works cited section of your essay.
  • Evaluate:
  • Identify the core opinion or arguments presented in the opinion piece. How does the assigned opinion piece diverge from merely factual reporting? Be specific.
  • Consider the levels of analysis (Ch. 1) and theoretical approaches (Ch’s 3, 4, and 14) we have examined in our course. What level(s) of analysis are utilized in advancing / informing the opinion presented in the article? What single theoretical approach is most consistent with the argument advanced / position taken in the article? Why? Be specific and support your evaluations with specific evidence from the assigned opinion piece.
  • Analyze:
  • The opinion piece discusses contemporary human rights issues at the international level. Consider the issues of human security introduced (Ch’s 11, 12, 13). Which generation of human rights is it focusing on? What human rights norms are discussed? What role (if any) do any transnational advocacy networks play in shaping the norms related to the issue(s) being discussed? How does the argument presented align with the contemporary human rights regime? Be specific and support your analysis with evidence from both the text and the assigned article.
  • Reflect:
    • In your theoretically-informed opinion, does the argument presented in the opinion piece argue in favor of, or against, increased human security at the international level? Use concepts and evidence related to human security from the course textbook (esp. Ch 11) to develop and support your opinion.
  • Do you agree with the opinion / proposed course of action presented in the opinion piece? Why or why not?

Formatting and Submission Guidelines: Your essays should be submitted as a Word document that adheres to the following formatting guidelines:

  • Minimum response of 500 words (excluding title, works cited, and any appendices); ideal range is between 500 and 750 words (approximately 2-3 double-spaced pages, excluding title and reference pages). No penalty for going over the word count.
  • Organized into a clear narrative structure with distinct introduction, multiple body, and conclusion paragraphs. You are encouraged to submit drafts of your essay to the Writing Center for review before submitting your final version here.
  • Double-spaced with one-inch margins on all sides.
  • Written in a 12 point font (Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, or similar).
  • Including in-text and reference page citations, formatted in APA.

Evaluation Criteria: The essay is worth 60 points and will be graded according to the following criteria (see the attached rubric for more detail):

20 Points: Clarity of Argument: Is the argument clearly stated, well-supported, cohesive, and consistent throughout the essay?

20 points: Demonstration of Conceptual Knowledge: Are all concepts clearly defined, and, in the case of contested concepts, are competing definitions or interpretations taken into account?

10 points: Effective Use of Relevant Sources: Does the essay effectively utilize course materials (or other authoritative sources) to advance its argument?

10 points: Technical Criteria: Is the essay well organized, with a clear paragraph structure including introduction with thesis statement, body paragraphs, and conclusion? Is it free of typos, grammatical errors, and/or other stylistic issues that impede readability? Is there proper in-text and reference citations in APA format?

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