GOV 360N: The Theory and Practice of International Organizations
Department of Government
The University of Texas at Austin
Unique ID: 38505
Dr. Michael W. Mosser
Course location: SZB 296
Office: Mezes 3.222
Course time: TTh 2:00 pm-3:30 pm
Office hours: W 1000 – 1100
(and by appointment)
This advanced undergraduate course is designed to give the student an in-depth introduction to the theory and practice of international organizations. During the semester, students will learn the history of international organizations from early examples such as the League of Nations to contemporary instances such as the United Nations and the institutions essential to global trade and development. Students will also learn how these organizations are structured, the challenges they face, and their prospects for the future. Finally, students will learn how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) develop, and how they relate both to nation-states and to other international organizations.
Structure of the course:
The course is divided into four sections. Part One of the course will be a combination of the theory of international organization (i.e., why international organizations matter), and the early history of their creation and maintenance. Students will learn why international organizations matter to international relations and how international organizations can help to shape decisions made by all actors involved.
Part Two of the course will examine four specific international organizations: the United Nations (UN), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The UN portion of Part Two will show the UN as the only example of a global security international organization. The IMF, World Bank, and WTO portion will highlight these institutions as prominent examples of global economic organizations.
Part Three will discuss international non-governmental organizations (INGOs). It will principally cover the following questions: How do INGOs differ from more traditional IOs? Why have they become the focus of so much recent attention in international relations scholarship, as well as the general news media? What makes INGOs act the way they do? This section of the course is illuminated with case studies of Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and Doctors without Borders (MSF). We also look briefly at the cases of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), Sea Shepherd and WikiLeaks, to determine whether or not they might be considered to be NGOs.
Finally, Part Four looks at the future of international organizations and their continued relevance to international relations in the face of strong unilateralist tendencies on the part of the major powers of the international system.
This course has two in-class mid-term exams and a take-home final exam. Each midterm exam will be worth 25% of your overall grade. The final will be worth 30% of your overall grade.
Class discussion in a an upper-level seminar is more than expected; it is a given. Everyone has his or her own style of discussion, and I do not expect to turn those who prefer not to speak often in class into debate champions. Nevertheless, I do expect that each of you to post one discussion question per week in the online discussion forum. Participation grades will be given on a five-point basis (100, 95, 90…) and will be determined on the last class day. Coming to class every day but never participating will earn you a grade no higher than an 80. The discussion posting will count for 15% of your grade and in-class participation will comprise 5% of your course grade.
So that we can discuss points raised in the online postings in Thursday’s class, discussion questions for the week on which I am lecturing will be due by 5:00 pm every Wednesday (unless directed otherwise). They should be drawn from the readings or current news events and should reflect any questions, comments, or cries of outrage you may have regarding the arguments set forth by the authors. They most definitely will help you get the most from the class. I will prepare the first set of discussion questions as a template for future assignments.
The total number of discussion postings will be counted at the end of the semester, and also will be examined throughout the semester for evidence of consistent posting. Do not expect to “catch-up” post only at the end of the semester and receive full participation credit.
- 12-15 postings: Full credit
- 8-11 postings: 70% credit
- 5-7 postings: 50% credit
- Less than 5 postings: No credit
A word on late or missed assignments. Over the course of the semester, it is inevitable that some event will cause a time management issue, which might lead to a missed assignment deadline. Though normally handled on a case-by-case basis, there are some baseline penalties for missed or delayed assignments, detailed here:
o Missed exams will receive a 5% deduction per day until made up.
o Discussion postings will not be counted on an individual-post basis, but will be examined throughout the semester for evidence of consistent posting. Do not expect to “catch-up” post only at the end of the semester and receive full participation credit.
This course will use the following books as primary texts:
1 Thomas Weiss and Rorden Wilkinson, 2013. International Organization and Global Governance. Routledge. ISBN: 978-0415627603
2 Linda Fasulo, 2015. An Insider’s Guide to the UN (Third Edition). Yale University Press. ISBN: 978-0300203653
3 Ngaire Woods, 2007. The Globalizers: The IMF, the World Bank, and Their Borrowers. Cornell University Press. ISBN: 978-0801474200
4 Amrita Narlikar, 2005. The World Trade Organization: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0192806086
In addition to the books above, this course will utilize scholarly articles, “applied academic” pieces from think tanks and policy research organizations, and relevant information from IO websites to provide a broad and wide-ranging set of readings. The majority of readings for the course will be taken from scholarly articles related to the theory and practice of international organizations. Most of these will be available online from the PCL. Those that are not accessible due to PCL holding limitations will be made available as PDFs on Canvas. Befitting an upper-level class, the reading load is somewhat larger than you may be used to. I will make every effort to address the main points of the readings in class, but do not expect a synopsis or a replay of the readings. It is up to you to bring up questions you may have had while doing the readings.
- Strunk, William and E.B. White (2000). Elements of Style, 4th edition. (Pearson Allyn & Bacon)
Suggested news sources:
I will use the following grade standards. All grades will be converted to a 100-point scale.
- 93 and higher: A
- 90-92: A-
- 87-89: B+
- 80-86: B
- 77-79 B-
- 75-76 C+
- 70-74 C
- 67-69 C-
- 60-66 D
- lower than 60: F
Other important information
Plagiarism / academic misconduct:
Don’t do it. Minimum penalties for cheating are zeroes on quizzes or exams where the cheating takes place, and a grade of F on a paper that has been plagiarized. Questions about what constitutes academic misconduct should be brought to my attention.
Undergraduate Writing Center:
The Undergraduate Writing Center, FAC 211, 471-6222: (http://www.uwc.utexas.edu/) offers free, individualized, expert help with writing for any UT undergraduate, by appointment or on a drop-in basis. Any undergraduate enrolled in a course at UT can visit the UWC for assistance with any writing project. They work with students from every department on campus, for both academic and non-academic writing. Their services are not just for writing with "problems." Getting feedback from an informed audience is a normal part of a successful writing project. Consultants help students develop strategies to improve their writing. The assistance they provide is intended to foster independence. Each student determines how to use the consultant's advice. The consultants are trained to help you work on your writing in ways that preserve the integrity of your work.
University of Texas Honor Code:
The core values of The University of Texas at Austin are learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility. Each member of the university is expected to uphold these values through integrity, honesty, trust, fairness, and respect toward peers and community. Any student found guilty of scholastic dishonesty may receive an “F” in the course and be remanded to the appropriate University of Texas authorities for disciplinary action. For more information, view Student Judicial Services at http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/sjs.
According to UT-Austin policy, students must notify the instructor of an impending absence at least 14 days prior to the date of observance of a religious holy day. If a student must miss a class, an examination, a work assignment, or a project in order to observe a religious holy day, the student will be given an opportunity to complete the missed work within a reasonable time after the absence.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires that student privacy be preserved. Thus the posting of grades, even by the last four digits of the social security number, is forbidden. All communication will remain between the instructor and the student, and the instructor will not be able to share details of the student’s performance with parents, spouses, or any others.
Documented Disability Statement:
The University of Texas will make reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Any student with a documented disability who requires academic accommodations should contact Services for Students with Disabilities at 471-6259 (voice) or 1-866-329-3986 (Video Phone) as soon as possible to request an official letter outlining authorized accommodations.
Emergency Evacuation Policy:
In the event of a fire or other emergency, it may be necessary to evacuate a building rapidly. Upon the activation of a fire alarm or the announcement of an emergency in a university building, all occupants of the building are required to evacuate and assemble outside. Once evacuated, no one may re-enter the building without instruction to do so from the Austin Fire Department, University of Texas at Austin Police Department, or Fire Prevention Services office. Students should familiarize themselves with all the exit doors of each room and building they occupy at the university, and should remember that the nearest exit routes may not be the same as the way they typically enter buildings. Students requiring assistance in evacuation shall inform their instructors in writing during the first week of class. Information regarding emergency evacuation routes and emergency procedures can be found at http://www.utexas.edu/emergency