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POLS 480 (Kirsch)

POLS 480 (Kirsch)


Class Evaluation

Your Assignment

Research paper due April 27 (8-10 pages)

The instructor will answer questions, but the final paper will be due Friday, April 23 online.

Presentations will be made by video, and due before that, on Tuesday, April 5th.

We will spend at least one day in the library, and you will have the opportunity to upload your video (not more than 10 minutes) to the Canvas website.

Your assignment is to understand a classic argument in international relations as well as critiques of it. Your reader is your primary source, but you also need to go to the library to look up scholarly critiques, other writings by the same author, as well as other sources on the same subject.

You will need to locate 8-10 total sources.

This is not a book report. Don’t copy Wikipedia or Sparknotes or its facsimiles. This is an original research paper that will be used as a writing sample in your transfer, job, and scholarship applications, something to be proud of. It should be the crowning achievement of your work in this class. The rest is just learning and assessment. This is application, synthesis of ideas, and analysis of scholarly work, and involves your highest cognitive function.

Research Task:

Explain the argument, background to the argument, and essential reasoning of one of the principal theorists of international relations as understood in your reader. You will be expected to give a thorough presentation of this person’s thinking in your paper and your research presentation. Your main source of information will be the reader in this course, but you may need to find additional sources of this person’s writing.

Explain the counter-arguments of this person’s critics, as well as this person’s supporters. This is the main research component of this paper. This will enable you to better understand the writer’s thinking, and your own. You will be graded and judged on the basis of your clarity of understanding and communicating these ideas to the class (in your presentation) and the instructor (in your paper).

The main questions you will be answering are:

What is the argument this person is making? Why are they making it?

What is the historical circumstance this person is primarily addressing? Who is their intended audience?

What examples or evidence does this person offer to support their argument? Are they credible? How much of a point do their critics have in seeking to question its credibility?

What type of writing is this? Scholarly? For general readership? What type of scholarship are they involved in? Would you say it was more philosophical, historical, or behavioralist?

What school of thought does this person belong to? Realist? Liberal? Feminist? Constructivist? Marxist? Another school? What is their perspective, and why?

Can their writing be expected to inform us in our wider view of International Relations or Global Politics? Why or why not?

Are you persuaded by their writing? How would you have written the same essay/article/book selection differently? Could anyone make the same argument in a more effective way, or is their central premise simply too shaky?

Give an assessment as to whether the main critics (a decision you will be making, as to who they actually are) are themselves credible, or if they are problematic, and why.


  • Snyder
  • Thucydides-Dakota
  • Hobbes-Anna
  • Kant-Sam
  • Lenin-Danny
  • Wilson-Kenia
  • Kennan-Kim
  • Morgenthau-Sundus,
  • Mearsheimer-Jose
  • Wendt-Cameron
  • Tickner-Eloise
  • Morgenthau-Venura
  • Putnam-Daniel
  • Hoeber-Rudolph--Ammar
  • Jervis;
  • Clausewitz
  • Schelling
  • Jervis
  • Fearon
  • Waltz
  • Power-Karanbir
  • Keohane-Lucas
  • Mearsheimer
  • Keck and Sikkink-Meryl
  • Barnett and Finnemore-Dominic
  • Gilpin
  • Simmons
  • Hardin
  • Hudson-Cho
  • Barrett
  • Lindsay
  • Garrett