SPRING 2016 SYLLABUS: English Reading for International Politics
Meeting Time & Location: Mondays & Wednesdays, 10AM, Rm 7
Instructor: Mr. Julian Lee 李立安 Class Website: www.omnifoo.info/pages/IRReading.html
Office: 4th floor, Rm 401
Email: omniscientfool@tom.com
Jump to: Exams Class Schedule Midterm

OVERVIEW: This class aims to introduce students to a wide variety of articles, topics, and authors in international politics in English. Primary goals in terms of skill-building are to increase students' critical reading and critical thinking abilities. At first, only short excerpts of larger articles will be studied, along with one or two full, short articles. Texts will become gradually more difficult and academic as the course progresses. For academic articles, emphasis will be placed on the importance of understanding the abstract (including the types of evidence and arguments), introduction, and conclusion. Students may have some input in what topics and perhaps even what texts will be assigned. To make class discussion more interesting, the instructor will try to assign at least two texts with opposing viewpoints and/or arguments. By the midterm, students can expect to read up to five short articles per week for maximum exposure to varying viewpoints on political topics, and it is expected that each student's reading ability will improve to a level where the increase in the amount of reading will hardly be noticed. In order to be relevant and current, readings will not be assigned (posted below) more than a few weeks in advance. 讲课的语言是英语。 听/看不懂英语的学生千万要提前安排助学办法。

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES: Depending on students' receptiveness, a variety of activities will be employed in this class. Most often, class time will be spent discussing (and/or explaining) assigned readings, but sometimes we will read new texts in class. On topics with readings presenting opposing viewpoints, students can expect to debate the merits and drawbacks of different positions in small groups and as a class. Occasionally we will play team and individual games. Above all, class sessions will be ACTIVE, with lots of student participation and a goal of minimizing lecture time by the instructor. If the instructor finds that student preparation (reading assigned texts) is lacking or insufficient, small comprehension quizzes will be given at the beginning of classes as "daily grades" (平时成绩).

TEXTUAL COMPREHENSION & INTERPRETATION: As a reading course, texts will be approached as documents to be understood and evaluated individually and as a class. For each text of significant length, in-class discussion will follow a structural approach which will be, at least for the first few weeks, very rigid. Discussion will be structured as follows, with volunteers or possibly assigned roles to be prepared before class if a few students dominate the early discussions. Texts will be introduced by their title, author, and media source and discussed first in terms of the credibility of the latter two categories. The instructor will ask what the topic of the text is. The instructor will ask what the "main idea" or main argument is and, if it contains a persuasive argument, whether students are convinced by the argument (and why/why not). At some point the instructor will also ask what assumptions the author makes and what biases, whether acknowledged or unacknowledged, s/he carries in the text. After these basic points are established, deeper discussion of the text will follow, based on the individual points the author makes, especially with regard to the evidence used to make the main argument. At various points, the instructor will also interject with comprehension questions. The question of who the intended audience is (Whom is the author trying to convince?) should also come up. While students are encouraged to have a copy of the texts to be discussed for a particular session, whether they are printed or on a digital screen, the instructor will generally try to have all texts projected onto the screen at the front of class for discussion.

EXAMS: Both the midterm and final exams will test students' comprehension of texts and topics we have read and discussed in class but also introduce at least one new text. Care will be taken to make sure that the new text will either be easy or on the same topic as texts studied in class. The purpose of introducing new texts on the exam is to be sure that the course is not only building knowledge but also reading skills while also presenting students with real-life scenarios of trying to understand a text without prior preparation or outside aid. If desired, we may take a practice exam with a new text before the midterm.

GRADING: The midterm and final exams will be the main determinants of the final grade, with the quality of the student-compiled vocabulary lists, attendance and daily grades influencing borderline cases.

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: Students wishing to practice their English are welcome to join the instructor for lunch on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:40 to 12:30 on the first floor of Cafeteria #1. The instructor needs sports partners; let him know if you are good at badminton or tennis. Once the weather warms up, the instructor will announce times and locations for a regular meet-up for a popular American college sport: frisbee!

Care to see what Julian's other classes are doing? Visit the NENU landing page for his reading, writing, public administration, and IR theory courses. All classes should have received a copy of EFL student guides to Western music and Western movies. Feel free to share and distribute them.

Every effort will be made to present class materials in a fair manner which does not unconciously or excessively privilege Western thought and theories over Chinese and other approaches. However, given the instructor's training in a U.S. university, the majority of the material will be presented as closely as possible to an "Intro to IR" class in the USA. Anyone wishing to object officially, of course, has the option of reporting the instructor to the hotline reported below:


It is hoped that will not be necessary, and we can use this class to learn and discuss collegially how China and the U.S. view international politics!



WEEK 1 (2-29, 3-2): MON. Class Introduction, introduce various concepts and kinds of texts. WED. TOPIC - Energy Security READINGS: Excerpts on oil price crash, Wolf's article, "Crude Economics, Crude Politics"

WEEK 2 (3-7, 3-9): MON. Finish Wolf's article, debate whether low oil prices are good or bad for international politics. WED. TOPIC - The U.S. is a force for good or evil? READINGS: McFarland on why she's "Proud to Be an American" , Chomsky on the U.S. as the world's #1 Terrorist State

WEEK 3 (3-14, 3-16): MON. The USA as an "indispensable nation"? READINGS:

http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/06/the-myth-of-the-indispensable-nation/ &

https://www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/why-united-states-remains-indispensable-nation WED. Debate role of U.S. in world politics? We will use this recent, long, and important text for coming weeks and decide how best to divide it: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/04/the-obama-doctrine/471525/

WEEK 4 (3-21, 3-23): MON. Compare The Bush Doctrine to The Obama Doctrine. WED. HOMEWORK: Write a paragraph or two on the main differences between the past two American presidents' foreign policy (or if there is little or no real difference) and whether the next president should follow one or the other.

WEEK 5 (3-28, 3-30): MON. Debate differences in American foreign policy. Introduce academic articles and American college textbook's page on Hegemonic Stability Theory. HOMEWORK: Read excerpts of academic articles and the instructor's paper on Hegemonic Stability Theory. WED. Discuss academic excerpts on Hegemonic Stability Theory. HOMEWORK: Read as much as you can of Finnemore's constructivist article on unipolarity. Try to answer these comprehension questions: 1. Why can't a "unipole" do whatever it wants? 2. How are hypocrisy & legitimacy related for the unipole?

WEEK 6 (4-4, 4-6): MON. Tomb-Sweeping Day (No Class?) WED. Discuss Finnemore's article. HOMEWORK: Read about Thucydides' Trap and Brzezinski's interview about Xi Jinping's reference to it. Be ready to answer these discussion questions: 1. Why is Thucydides' Trap a "trap"? 2. What evidence is there for the existence of such a trap? 3. What creates the trap? 4. Think of a future where the U.S. and China fall into the trap and another in which the trap is avoided. What is done differently? 5. Why is much of the world, especially Realist political scientists, skeptical of China's claims never to "seek hegemony"?

WEEK 7 (4-11, 4-13): MON. Discuss Thucydides' Trap. HOMEWORK: Read introduction & conclusion of Schweller & Pu's article, "After Unipolarity". WED. Read Schweller & Pu's article's introduction & discuss. Discuss what will be on midterm exam and when to have it. HOMEWORK: Read/skim as much as you can of the rest of Schweller & Pu's article to prepare for a practice exam on MON.

WEEK 8 (4-18, 4-20): MON. Practice comprehension exam on Schweller & Pu's "After Unipolarity". WED. Vocabulary Game

WEEK 9 (4-25, 4-27): MON. Midterm Review Game. WED. Midterm Exam

WEEK 10 (5-2, 5-4): MON. INT'L LABOR WEEK (SPRING BREAK) NO CLASS. WED. Return & discuss midterm exam. HOMEWORK: Read instructor's handout on Bilateral Interstate Relations. The handout is missing a link (to be repaired) after the sentence ending the first paragraph, "Also note that most 'games' in Game Theory are for two 'players':" List of Games in Game Theory

WEEK 11 (5-9, 5-11): MON. Discuss bilateral interstate relations based on instructor's handout. HOMEWORK: Read handout about Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979 (Third Indochinese War) WED. Discuss readings on Third Indochinese War. HOMEWORK: Write about what you think are the 1, 2, or 3 most important causes of the Sino-Vietnamese War and one from the list in class that you think was not important in causing the war.

WEEK 12 (5-16, 5-18): MON. Continue discussion of Sino-Vietnamese War with a new paragraph from Mertha's book. In teams, answer questions about the four paragraphs. HOMEWORK: Familiarize yourself with vocabulary and concepts about Humanitarian Intervention (HI) and R2P. WED. Discuss genocide, HI and R2P in the context of Just War. HOMEWORK: Read as much as you can of Hurd's article about the legality of HI.

WEEK 13 (5-23, 5-25): MON. Discuss article on HI, the sources of international law. WED. Practice quiz on Hurd's article on HI.

WEEK 14 (5-30, 6-1): MON. Read in class and discuss two pieces on the Yazidis, one from the advocacy group Yazda and another from a newsmagazine. Discuss whether what ISIL/ISIS/"Daesh" has done to the Yazidis should be called a genocide and what the standard is or should be to differentiate a genocide 大屠杀 from a massacre 屠杀. HOMEWORK: Write a multiple choice question based on the texts. As a supplement to his own questions, the instructor will compile and edit the best ones to be a practice quiz for WED. Take practice quiz based on Yazidi texts from previous session. HOMEWORK: Read the first three sections of Amy Chua's controversial essay on "market-dominant minorities", excerpted from her 2003 book, "World on Fire".

WEEK 15 (6-6, 6-8): MON. Discuss the concept of an MDM (market-dominant minority), whether and where Chinese are one, and the consequences of it. Is the U.S. a global one? Introduce & discuss concept of "Overseas Chinese" HOMEWORK: Read about anti-Chinese violence and policies in history and more recent examples. WED. Discuss anti-Chinese sentiment's causes and expressions in history and contemporary examples. Compare examples which are anti-PRC and those which target the ethnic Chinese diaspora. HOMEWORK: Divide into five groups to make presentations about the Chinese diaspora in five different articles about five different contexts: Kenya, Malaysia, NYC, Canada, and Australia.

WEEK 16 (6-13, 6-15): MON. Meet in groups to prepare a 5-15-minute presentation on your article. HOMEWORK: Be ready to present. WED. Groups present on their articles. If time remains, we will compare and discuss the articles and the Chinese diaspora as a whole as a class. HOMEWORK: See also the video and interview about the Canadian reality TV series "Ultra Rich Asian Girls"

WEEK 17 (6-20, 6-22): MON. Vocabulary game? WED. Final review game. Class photo?

WEEK 18 (6-27, 6-29): NO CLASS?