International Relations

Kavita Khory, Chair

Linda Chesky Fernandes, Academic Department Coordinator


109A Skinner Hall
413-538-2381
https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/internationalrelations

Overview and Contact Information

The Department of International Relations (IR) focuses on the myriad and complex interactions of human beings across state boundaries. It aims to provide students a global perspective on the origins of the current international system, the salient concerns in international relations today, and the emerging challenges humanity will face in the years ahead. These goals can best be achieved through an interdisciplinary approach, drawing upon the theoretical insights and empirical knowledge of several disciplines, including economics, geography, history, and political science. International relations majors are expected to complete a course of study that includes introductory core courses in each of these fields, a course in research methods, as well as advanced courses in a number of more focused tracks. They are expected to attain a level of proficiency in a foreign language that will allow them to do basic research in it. They are also encouraged to study abroad during their junior year. The department strives to educate informed citizens and thoughtful leaders for our emerging global society.

The Five College Certificate in International Relations serves as the minor in International Relations.

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to spend at least one semester studying abroad during their junior year. A suitable program and course of study should be chosen with the help of the student’s advisor.

Honors Work

The department reserves its honors for majors who successfully complete a thesis in their senior year. Seniors writing a thesis must enroll in IR 395, Independent Study for two semesters.

See Also

Faculty

This area of study is administered by the Department of International Relations:

Sohail Hashmi, Professor of International Relations on the Alumnae Foundation and Professor of Politics

Stephen Jones, Professor of Russian Studies

Girma Kebbede, Professor of Geography

Kavita Khory, Professor of Politics

Jeremy King, Professor of History

Eva Paus, Professor of Economics, Teaching Spring Only

Jon Western, Carol Hoffmann Collins '63 Professor of International Studies and Five College Professor of International Relations; Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs

Sarah Adelman, Associate Professor of Economics

Andy Reiter, Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations

Katherine Schmeiser, Associate Professor of Economics, On Leave 2017-2018

Serin Houston, Assistant Professor of Geography and International Relations, On Leave 2017-2018

Christopher Mitchell, Assistant Professor of International Relations and Politics

Bryan Nakayama, Visiting Instructor in International Relations

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 40 credits:

12 credits must be at the 300 level and undertaken in at least two disciplines. These courses must be taken at Mount Holyoke or another of the Five Colleges. Only 4 credits of independent work can count toward the requirement for courses at the 300 level.

ECON-213Economic Development: A Survey 1, 24
or ECON-218 International Economics
GEOG-105World Regional Geography 1, 34
or GEOG-206 Political Geography
HIST-151Modern and Contemporary Europe 14
or HIST-161 British Empire and Commonwealth
POLIT-116World Politics 14
IR-200Research Methods 14
At least 12 credits at the 300 level in two different disciplines (see Focus below)12
8 additional credits in international relations8
Total Credits40
1

These introductory courses provide the foundation for more advanced course work in the IR major. Therefore, they should all be completed within the first five semesters at Mount Holyoke. IR-200 is intended for IR majors in their sophomore year.

2

Please note that the Department of Economics requires ECON-110 Introductory Economics as a prerequisite for ECON-213 and ECON-218.

3

Students with high school preparation in geography should take GEOG-206.

Other Requirements

  • Focus. Each student’s major must have a focus, consisting of at least 12 credits in two different disciplines, only 4 credits of which may be independent study. Students may elect one of the following five foci: global commons, international institutions, international peace and security, international political economy, or international ethics. They may also design a focus, with the approval of their advisor and the chair.
  • Foreign language. Each student is expected to possess or acquire proficiency in a foreign language up to the intermediate level.

Additional Specifications

  • Soon after declaring their major, students should plan individual programs of study in consultation with one or more members of the faculty committee, one of whom will be designated the student’s academic advisor.
  • Exceptions to the requirements above will be made only in rare cases and require the approval of the chair.
  • The Department of International Relations does not cross-list courses in other departments that satisfy the major’s requirements. Generally, all courses taught by members of the IR Committee count toward the major. For courses offered by other faculty, the policy of the department is to accept any course in any department that is directly pertinent to the student’s focus in her major. Thus, for example, a student whose focus is global commons could conceivably count courses offered by the geology or biological sciences departments. Or a student focusing on international ethics could use certain courses in the religion or philosophy departments to satisfy her requirements in the major. Any questions concerning the appropriateness of a particular course can be answered by the advisor or the department chair. It is important for the student to verify that the course in question will count toward her major before she takes it.
  • The IR major focuses on global issues and institutions, and relationships across regions and nations. This does not preclude students from developing expertise in a particular region or nation; indeed, part of the study of international relations is how global issues find local expressions. But students whose primary interest is in a particular area of the world should elect a more appropriate major, such as Latin American or Asian studies.
  • International relations is an interdisciplinary major. Students who pursue an interdisciplinary major automatically fulfill the College’s “outside the major” requirement.

Certificate Overview

The Five College International Relations Certificate Program offers students an opportunity to pursue an interest in international affairs as a complement to their majors. It prepares students to make interdisciplinary connections between their field of study and the complexities of global challenges such as globalization, regional and ethnic conflict, environmental degradation, resource scarcity, demographic stress, global climate change, wide disparities in global economic development, and challenges to global public health.

The Five College Certificate in International Relations serves as the minor in International Relations.

Requirements for the Certificate

A minimum of seven courses:

One course on introductory world politics1
One course on global institutions or problems1
One course on the international financial and commercial system1
One course on the historical development of the international system since 17891
One course on contemporary American foreign policy1
Two courses on the politics, economy, and/or society of foreign areas, of which one must involve the study of a third-world country or region outside of the United States and Europe2
Proficiency in a contemporary foreign language through the completion of two years of the language at the college level or its equivalent0-4
Total Courses7-11

Additional Specifications

  • A complete list of the Five College courses for each of the seven areas of study is available from the IR certificate advisors and the program’s website.
  • No more than four of these courses in any one discipline can be counted toward the certificate.
  • No single course can satisfy more than one requirement.
  • Students must complete the required courses (with the exception of the foreign language courses) with letter grades of B or better (no satisfactory/unsatisfactory grades).
  • For further information consult with one of the Mount Holyoke College advisors. Additional information also can be found at the program's website.

Course Offerings

IR-200 Research Methods

Spring. Credits: 4

Develops students' skills in writing expository essays and introduces basic quantitative and qualitative research methods used in the social sciences and history. The course provides a foundation for writing research papers in advanced courses, as well as an honors thesis.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
S. Hashmi
Notes: This course should be taken by International Relations majors in their sophomore year.

IR-211 Middle East Politics

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Introduction to the cultures and politics of the Middle East. Includes the situation of the region at the time of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire; the emergence of independent states before and after World War II; the rise of Arab and Zionist nationalism; the Arab-Israeli conflicts; and the superpower rivalry and its influence on regional politics. Other topics include the Iranian revolution, the domestic and regional role of Islamic movements, and the political economy of oil.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Hashmi
Prereq: POLIT-116.

IR-222 The United States, Israel, and the Arabs

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Surveys the constants and variables in U.S. foreign policy toward Israel and the Arabs since the end of World War II to the present. Analysis of domestic determinants of U.S. policy, including lobbies, ideology, and the international system. Consideration of U.S. policy in the Arab-Israeli conflict, intra-Arab disputes, and the Gulf War.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Hashmi
Prereq: POLIT-116.

IR-224 The United States and Iran

Fall. Credits: 4

Explores America's relationship with Iran from the end of World War II to the present. Examines America's close ties to the Shah and the political, social, and economic causes of the Iranian revolution, with emphasis on the role of Shi'ite Islam. Concludes with analysis of politics and society in the Islamic Republic under Khomeini and his successors.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
S. Hashmi
Prereq: POLIT-116.

IR-232 Introduction to International Political Economy

Fall. Credits: 4

This course examines the theory and practice of the politics of international trade and economics, focusing on the spread of global trade, global financial flows, causes and effects of globalization and migration, and the intersection of trade and environmental issues. Major themes include tensions between the developed and developing world, various development strategies, and the impact of a rising China on both the developed North American and European economies and developing economies.

Crosslisted as: POLIT-232
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
C. Mitchell
Prereq: POLIT-116.

IR-250 Topics in International Relations

IR-250CW Topics in International Relations: 'Imagining Cold War Competition'

Spring. Credits: 4

The development of nuclear weapons and the ascendance of the Soviet Union following World War II led to the rise of an influential class of professionals tasked with managing the contours of American Empire. This course seeks to answer three questions: first, how did these thinkers understand the dynamics of world order and the place of the United States in superpower competition? Second, what were the social, cultural, and political contexts that influenced and underwrote these theories of global domination? And finally, how were these theories put into practice in American foreign policy and with what consequences for competition with the Soviet Union and the rest of the world?

Crosslisted as: POLIT-248CW
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
B. Nakayama

IR-270 American Foreign Policy

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

In this examination of American foreign policy since 1898, topics include the emergence of the United States as a global power, its role in World War I and II, its conduct and interests in the cold war, and its possible objectives in a post-cold war world. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between domestic interests and foreign policy, the role of nuclear weapons in determining policy, and the special difficulties in implementing a democratic foreign policy.

Crosslisted as: POLIT-270
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
B. Nakayama
Prereq: POLIT-116.

IR-272 Trade and American Foreign Policy

Spring. Credits: 4

Trade policy has been central to American political debates since independence. Whether free trade, fair trade, or protectionism is best for America has been hotly debated for centuries. Decisions to trade or not to trade have also long been linked to other domestic and foreign policy issues including abolitionism and the Civil War, securing allies in the Cold War, building peaceful relations with China, and cementing U.S. global leadership. This course examines the shifting coalitions arguing over U.S. trade policy, the shifting goals they seek to accomplish via U.S. trade policy, and the international effects of U.S. trade.

Crosslisted as: POLIT-272
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
C. Mitchell
Prereq: POLIT-116.

IR-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

IR-305 International Society

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

An intensive reading course in theories of international society: the idea that states and peoples are or should be linked to each other through a web of shared values and institutions. It focuses on the work of Hedley Bull, Immanuel Kant, and John Rawls. How did these three men understand international society? What are or should be the values and institutions that give rise to it and support it? What implications do their visions of international society have for war and peace, state sovereignty, religion, democracy, capitalism, distributive justice, human rights, and international law? What responses and criticisms have their arguments engendered?

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
S. Hashmi
Prereq: POLIT-116.

IR-323 Comparative Politics of the Middle East

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course presents the rise (and sometimes collapse) of modern states in the Middle East; the nature of legitimacy, modernization, state-civil society relations, and political culture and economy; and the role of religion with specific reference to Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Hashmi
Prereq: 8 credits in Politics or International Relations, including POLIT-106 or IR-211.

IR-324 Islamic Political Thought

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course examines Islamic political thought from the origins of Islam to the present. It considers how Muslim thinkers over the past 14 centuries have understood such fundamental political concepts as the state, leadership, and law. The seminar also includes modern Muslim reflections on political concepts of Western origin, such as democracy, nationalism, and civil society.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Hashmi
Prereq: POLIT-116 and 8 credits in IR or POLIT.

IR-333 Just War and Jihad: Comparative Ethics of War and Peace

Fall. Credits: 4

Why do we moralize about war? When is war justified, if ever? What restraints should soldiers accept? This course examines these issues within the context of Western and Islamic thought. Study of the origins and evolution of both traditions is combined with consideration of important topics of current concern, such as intervention, weapons of mass destruction, and women and war.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Hashmi
Prereq: Politics 116 and 4 additional credits in Politics.

IR-341 Political Islam

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course covers Islamic responses to European imperialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly the emergence of Islamic modernism; the growth of Islamic movements in the Arab world and South Asia and their responses to secular nationalism and socialism; and a survey of the ends to which religion is applied in three types of regimes: patrimonial Saudi Arabia, revolutionary Iran, and military-authoritarian Pakistan.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Hashmi
Prereq: POLIT-116.

IR-343 Law and Religion

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course explores the relationship between law and religion through a comparative study of eight countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Israel, and India. It focuses on the role of religion in the constitutional law of these countries, both in the text of constitutional documents and in judicial interpretation of these texts. Starting with an analysis of the religion clauses in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the seminar explores questions relating to the separation of religion and state, religious liberty, and the proper role of courts in negotiating societal disputes over religion.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
S. Hashmi
Prereq: POLIT-116.

IR-350 Advanced Topics in International Relations

IR-350SP Advanced Topics in International Relations: 'U.S. Foreign Policy in Space'

Spring. Credits: 4

Once the crown jewel of U.S. Cold War public diplomacy, NASA has fallen into decline due to faltering public interest and budget. At the same time, there has been a "space rush" as private corporations have sought to normalize civilian space travel. This seminar explores the dynamics of the United States' foreign policy in space -- how it was developed and with what effects. By engaging with archival materials and scholarship this course will answer the following questions (among others): Why hasn't space been weaponized? What role does technological prestige play in public diplomacy? What are the roots and future of the commercial space industry?

Crosslisted as: POLIT-387SP
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
B. Nakayama
Prereq: 8 credits from Politics or International Relations.

IR-350TF Advanced Topics in International Relations: 'Technology and United States Foreign Policy'

Fall. Credits: 4

This course examines how the United States has sought to manage global politics through technology since World War II. Beginning with a discussion of how to understand the relationship between technology and politics, this course will cover such topics as nuclear weapons and peaceful nuclear technologies, space exploration and national prestige, the relationship between the Vietnam War and contemporary border surveillance, Internet technologies and the Arab Spring, and the rise of drone warfare.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
B. Nakayama
Prereq: POLIT-116 and an additional 4 credits in international relations.

IR-363 Political Economy of the European Union

Fall. Credits: 4

This course examines the political, economic, and cultural forces driving debates around the creation, expansion, and reform of the European Union. It examines the economic and political logic for integration, as well as the cultural and economic challenges pushing against integration, and provides an in-depth look at the specific challenges facing the EU.

Crosslisted as: POLIT-363
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
C. Mitchell
Restrictions: This course is open to Juniors and Seniors.
Prereq: 8 credits in Politics/International Relations.

IR-365 Ethics and International Relations

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Do ethical considerations matter in international relations? Should they? These questions are examined from the perspective of Western writers on these specific issues: just war, intervention, human rights, weapons of mass destruction, and distributive justice. The course also considers challenges to the international system posed by the critiques and responses of non-Western states and peoples.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
S. Hashmi
Prereq: POLIT-116 and 8 credits from International Relations.

IR-382 Global Capitalism and Its Critiques

Spring. Credits: 4

Beyond the immediate debate about the political and economic dynamics of the global economy is a centuries-long conversation about the social, political, and economic consequences of a capitalist global economy and its potential variants and alternatives. This course will engage with this conversation by reading major thinkers both within and outside of the West who seek to alternately defend, critique, or overturn the global economic order, including Smith, Keynes, Marx, Polanyi, and their intellectual followers. Our goal will be to explore both the intellectual conversation and how it both shapes and explains the political and economic struggles over the global liberal economic order.

Crosslisted as: POLIT-382
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
C. Mitchell
Prereq: IR-232 or POLIT-232.

IR-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.