Introduction to International Politics (online)
POLS 1150, Section 080 (x)
First Summer Session, 2008
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Mandatory Centra Sessions: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Dr. James A. Piazza
Office: Fretwell 450 G
This course is an introduction to the basic theories, concepts and issues that comprise
international politics. There are two main objectives of the course. First, the course provides an
introduction to international relations theory and all of its attendant concepts such as levels of
analysis, sovereignty, anarchy, interdependence, balance of power and theories of war and peace
are some examples. These concepts provide a framework for us to understand how international
politics works. Second, the course examines historical and contemporary issues in world affairs
such as the causes and consequences of major armed conflicts in the world, the Cold War and its
legacy, the phenomenon of international terrorism, globalization and regional economic
integration and the history and future direction of U.S. foreign policy.
Blackboard and Centra
This course is taught online and has an asynchronous and a synchronous component. That
means some of the course material is posted online for students to access and complete on their
own time while meeting key deadlines. Other parts of the course require students to log in using
the Centra system at specific times (Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.) from their
own computer and participate in class discussions.
Note 1: You must be able to participate in mandatory Centra sessions from 3:00 to 4:00
p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday if you wish to be in the class. Think of these as ordinary
class sessions except that they are held online.
Note 2: Because the class is an online class, it is especially important that you keep up with
the course readings, powerpoints, etc. on a regular basis. If you have difficulty with
working independently and are prone to getting behind in readings, this course is not for
There is a Blackboard website for the class that you should be able to access using your 49er
Express account if you have registered for the class. All class material, lectures, readings,
assignments and testing will be presented on the Blackboard site. You should make it your
business to check Blackboard every day because I will be periodically updating it and can use it
to post messages for the class.
Centra is an online site for class discussions. Students purchase a headset with microphone,
install the free Centra software onto their home computer, login for class sessions and are able to
participate in class discussions, do class assignments and communicate with the instructor.
Centra allows us to have better contact with each other than would ordinarily be permitted in an
online course. Moreover, student performance during Centra sessions is a graded component of
The following are the software and hardware requirements for using Centra 7.5 SP4:
Windows System Requirements
- Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista 1.0 (32 or 64 bit)
- Internet Explorer 6.0, Internet Explorer 7, FireFox 1.5x or later, Netscape 7.2
- CPU: 500+ MHz processor (1 GHz if Vista)
- Memory: 512 MB RAM (1 GB if Vista)
- Display: 800x600 pixels, 16-bit color display (high color)
- Live Video: 2 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM
- Network: 28.8 kbps or faster Internet connection (Cable or DSL better)
- Sound Card and Headset with attached microphone, or speakers and desktop
Apple System Requirements
- Mac OSX 10.4.4
- Safari 2.0.1
- CPU: G4 700 MHz or Intel-based Mac
- Memory: 1 GB RAM
- Display color depth: Thousands of colors
- Network: Broadband Internet connection (Cable or DSL) or Local Area Network
- Sound Card and USB Headset with attached microphone, or speakers and USB
An online tutorial and frequently asked questions about how to use Centra is also available at the
Email and Contingencies
Like all systems, both Blackboard and Centra can go down at times, sometimes unexpectedly.
This is where email becomes particularly critical to maintain contact. Your UNCC email
account is my official means of communicating with you and I will make use of it to broadcast
announcement to the class, answer questions and respond to comments you have, schedule
meetings (on campus if you are around or via phone if you are not), and to transmit information
that you might miss if Blackboard or Centra are offline. Therefore, you must regularly (daily
at least) check your UNCC email account to stay in touch.
Your grade in the course is determined by the following items:
Participation in Centra Sessions 10%
Quizzes (5) 10% each, total of 50%
Final Exam 40%
Discussion and instructor-student interaction is an important part of the course. Therefore, there
is a Centra participation grade worth 10% of your total grade. I will take attendance for Centra
sessions and if you do happen to miss a session due to illness or some other excused cause, you
are still responsible for all of the material that you have missed. To get a good grade for Centra
participation you should log into the Blackboard website regularly, read all of the unit modules
(Powerpoint slideshows for each unit we cover as indicated in the course schedule below),
complete all readings for the unit and read over and think about the discussion questions
included at the end of every unit module. During our Centra sessions we will discuss the
material for that unit and I will grade your ability to keep up with the discussion and answer
questions that I pose about the material. Preparing to participate in Centra sessions will also help
to prepare you for the final exam at the end of the session. A rubric is included at the end of the
syllabus which explains how I will grade participation. Also, a significant amount of material
for the quizzes and for the final exam will be presented during the Centra sessions. Some of this
material cannot be found in course readings or in the powerpoints. Therefore, you hurt yourself
more than one way by not logging in and participating in the Centra sessions.
Note that work commitments are never an adequate excuse for missing Centra sessions. This
class takes priority over other commitments and if you have work or other conflicts, you should
take another class.
We will also have five quizzes that are administered at the end of each of the five weeks. They
will cover material from the week in which they are administered. To prepare for the quizzes,
make sure that you have read all of the material and powerpoints by Thursday afternoon and
have participated in the Centra sessions for the week. Take-home quizzes are due when
indicated! Quizzes or any other assigned course materials that are turned in late will be
penalized by one full letter grade per day! Note, due to the online nature of the class and the
compressed timeframe of summer classes, no make-up quizzes will be allowed!
The final exam in the course is a longer, cumulative test which covers all course materials:
readings, powerpoints, items discussed in Centra session. As the semester moves forward I will
give you a better idea of what the exams will involve, but keep in mind the following policies.
1) I do not give study-guides or hold reviews for the exams.
2) There will be no makeup exam.
3) I do not give extra credit.
The final grade in the class will be determined using the following scale. Note that it is not a
A = 93-100
B = 85-92
C = 77-84
D = 70-76
F = 0-69
Also note that I do not grade on a curve nor do I offer students the opportunity to do extra credit.
All of the required readings for the class will be posted on the Blackboard website for the class.
Students are not required to purchase additional readings.
Students have the responsibility to know and observe the requirements of The UNC Charlotte
Code of Student Academic Integrity. This code forbids cheating, fabrication or falsification of
information, multiple submissions of academic work, plagiarism, abuse of academic materials,
and complicity in academic dishonesty. Any special requirements or permission regarding
academic integrity in this course will be stated by the instructor, and are binding on the students.
Academic evaluations in this course include a judgment that the student’s work is free from
academic dishonesty. Students who violate the code can be expelled from UNC Charlotte. The
normal penalty for a first offense is zero credit on the work involving dishonesty and further
substantial reduction of the course grade. In almost all cases the course grade is reduced to "F."
Copies of the code can be obtained from the Dean of Students Office. Standards of academic
integrity will be enforced in this course. Students are expected to report cases of academic
dishonesty to the course instructor.
Week 1: Course Overview, Basic Theoretical Concepts in International Politics
5/26 through 5/30
Concepts: The International System; What is International Politics/International
Relations?; Features of the International System; Types of Power;
Structure of Power in the International System; Hegemony.
Readings: Kagan “Power and Weakness”
Centra Sessions: 5/27 and 5/29
Quiz 1: 5/30
Week 2: Realism and Idealism/Liberalism, The Nation-State in the International System
6/2 through 6/6
Concepts: Realism and its concepts; Liberalism and its concepts; Origins of the
Nation-State; Global Exportation of the Nation-State.
Readings: Nye “Toward a Liberal Realist Foreign Policy”
Kissinger “Realists verses Idealists” Can be found online at:
Centra Sessions: 6/3 and 6/5
Quiz 2: 6/6
Week 3: Conflict and War
6/9 through 6/13
Concepts: Causes of War; Collective Security and Collective Defense; Cold War;
Post-Cold War Challenges
Readings: Stephen Krasner and Carlos Pascual “Addressing State Failure”
Centra Sessions: 6/10 and 6/12
Quiz 3: 6/13
Week 4: International Political Economy
6/16 through 6/20
Concepts: Free Trade and Protectionism; Bretton Woods; Globalization and Regional
Economic Integration; International Economic Development
Readings: Kenneth F. Scheve and Matthew J. Slaughter “A New Deal for
Nancy Birdsall, Dani Rodrik and Arvind Subramanian “How to Help Poor
Centra Sessions: 6/17 and 6/19
Quiz 4: 6/20
Week 5: International Organization
6/23 to 6/27
Concepts: The United Nations System; United Nations Organs; Ideas for UN Reform
Readings: Kofi Annan “’In Larger Freedom:’ Decision Time at the UN”
Centra Sessions: 6/24 and 6/26
Quiz 5: 6/27
Final Exam: Will be administered online or via email (6/30)
Participation Grade Rubric
Participation in Centra discussions is an integral part of learning, and I want to reward students
who do take pains to contribute meaningfully to the content of the course and to penalize those
that do not. However, grading participation is more subjective than other types of grading.
Therefore, I will use the following rubric for assessing your participation grade:
A (96) Students in this category are regular attendees of Centra sessions who demonstrate on a
constant basis that they have read the required readings for the week, thought about them and try
to apply them to the discussion. Students in this category also pose questions or make comments
on a regular basis that clarify the material being presented or perhaps bring in a different angle to
the discussion. They are prepared, engaged and pose regular, thoughtful and productive
questions and comments about the material.
B (88) Students in this category might be regular, productive contributors to Centra discussions
or pose good questions, but do so on a much less regular basis. They are usually prepared for
discussion, but not always, thus cannot be considered a regular contributor. Students in this
category might, however, be vocal on a regular basis, but a significant amount of their
participation is in the form of administrative or other non-substantive questions and comments.
C (80) Students in this category are rare, productive contributors to discussion. Most of their
comments or questions are about administrative questions (“Will this be on the test?”), and they
seem to be only minimally prepared. Their attendance may be spotty, but they could also be
regular attendees that are frequently silent during Centra sessions.
D (73) Students in this category are either frequently absent from Centra meetings or are
regular attendees that never participate at any level. Students in this category are disengaged
with the material and discussions.
F (0) Students in this category are rarely to never present and are therefore unable to contribute
to the course in any way. This category is also reserved for students who are disruptive.