International Relations

Course Syllabus

Instructor: M. Laskowski
Office: Room 292, Upper School
Telephone: 919.847.0900 ext. 2643

This course examines trends and nuances within international relations focusing on the period between 1945 and the present. It begins with an American focus and becomes more global in perspective as the semester progresses. It is divided into two major sections: “The Rise to Globalism”(in which students examine the political and diplomatic challenges that faced the world community in the wake of the Second World War, the birth of the United Nations, the Cole War, post-colonial tensions in non-western societies, revolution, reform, the rise of Globalism, and geopolitics in the post-September 11Th era) and “the Politics of Interdependence” (in which students focus on present-day crises, complete case studies in crisis areas, and take part in United Nations-based simulation with an eye toward diplomacy and crisis resolution).
--Ravenscroft School Curriculum and Registration Guide, 2003, p. 48

One of the most repeated expressions in the wake of the September 11th attacks was, “we’re living in a different world.” That was an easy and obvious statement to make, but understanding that different world is something that few Americans have bothered to attempt. The fact that you signed up for this class indicates that you are part of the small minority of people who cares about world issues, strives to understand how public policy can be seen in a global context, and is not afraid to learn how political and cultural systems interact. And so the goal of this course is to help give you the background and context for understanding the “different world” so that the next time something happens in Liberia or North Korea, you will know not only know what happened, but why, and what should be done about it. Get your passport, and let’s go!

Books: You have two several source materials for this course. The first book is Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy Since 1938, by Stephen Ambrose. The second book is The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization by Thomas Friedman. Both of these books are available for purchase in the bookstore. Other readings will be given to you as the semester progresses.

Other Supplies: You will need a notebook and a folder or three-ring binder to hold all of your papers, of which there will be many. Please bring a pen or pencil to class every day.

Effort: This will be a challenging course, but do not become anxious or overwhelmed about it. You can do it, and Mr. Laskowski will be here to help you along the way. The most important thing you need to remember is this: DO YOUR BEST! You are not expected to be perfect scholars of international politics; you are expected to make a real effort and to show progress. If you do these things, you will succeed.

Attendance: You are expected in class EVERY DAY. If you are absent on the day of a test, you must make it up the first day you are back. Special accommodations will be made for students who are absent for a number of days. Please let Mr. Laskowski know well in advance of expected absences.

Timeliness: You are expected in class on time everyday, and Mr. Laskowski employs the “Benoit Rule” for tardies. If you are late to class and do not have a note from a teacher, you will have to attend a detention after school at 3:15 in Room 296. The first offense will result in a 15-minute detention; the second will result in a 30-minute detention, and any offense thereafter will result in 45-minute detentions. Missing a detention will result in an additional detention and further disciplinary action.

Participation: This is a brand-new class, and so everyone bears an equal responsibility for making the class a success. Because we have only a small number of students, there will be no room to hide. Come to class prepared to participate, eager to learn, and ready to work hard on assignments or group projects.

Tests and Quizzes: Tests and quizzes are designed to measure your command of factual material covered in class. You will be given at least one week’s notice on all major tests and papers, but Mr. Laskowski reserves the option to administer quizzes (pop or otherwise) on assigned reading or on review material.

Essays: Essays will not have absolute, single, correct answers. Instead, your work will be judged by how effectively it analyses the issues, how focused is your response, how comprehensive is your coverage, how developed are your arguments, how well-supported are your arguments, how accurate is your information, and how organized is your presentation.

Respect: You have a responsibility to be considerate of your fellow students and your teacher. You will be treated as adults, with all the responsibility that comes with that. Failure to show respect will not be tolerated and will be dealt with harshly.

Grading: It is hoped that you will do your best at all times. However, do not become preoccupied by grades. No one grade will ruin you or bring you eternal happiness. Instead, focus on learning to love government. It is its own reward. That said, the following factors will be considered in determining your grade: participation, tests, quizzes, homework, essays, and projects. Creativity and ingenuity will also be rewarded. The standards for grading are in line with those set forth by Ravenscroft. Your grade will be determined roughly (and therefore not absolutely) according to the following scale:
30% Class Participation (Subjective)
30% Homework and Projects (Objective)
30% Tests and Quizzes (Objective)
10% Effort and Progress (Subjective)

Extra Assistance: Remember, Mr. Laskowski is here to help you learn. And if you feel you need extra assistance in completing your work or understanding concepts, see him either before or after class to discuss the matter or to set up an appointment.