foreign policy analysis

POLS-Y 109: Introduction to International Relations

Foreign Policy Analysis

The paper will be graded on a 100 point scale and is worth 15% of your overall course grade.

Purpose: The assignment is designed to allow you to conduct original research through selecting, interpreting, and appraising a foreign policy relevant issue of your choice. In developing your paper, you will demonstrate your mastery of core theoretical approaches, and empirical realities related to the field of global politics.

Skills: The purpose of this assignment is to help you practice the following skills and habits of mind that are essential to your success in this course and to your growth as a global citizen:

  • Articulating a theoretically informed, consistent normative and/or empirical position
  • Applying disciplinary knowledge to analyze similar, but unfamiliar content
  • Locating and appraising relevant primary and secondary sources
  • Synthesizing diverse information into a cohesive analysis

Knowledge: This assignment will also help you to become familiar with the following important content knowledge in the field of international relations:

  • Issues and debates related to different theoretical perspectives of international relations (e.g. realism, liberalism, world-systems, feminism, etc.)
  • Issues of contemporary foreign policy (broadly conceived) and how states and other actors approach and/or respond to issues related to:
    • International security, and/or
    • Economic security, and/or
    • Human security

Task: Your task is to write an analytical paper of at least 1000-1250 words, approximately 4-5 double spaced pages, excluding title and reference pages ; there is no maximum limit on length) which presents a focused analysis of a case study that illustrates a central theme from at least one of the weekly security-related themes of our course (Chapters 5-14). You are free to choose the specific topic(s), case(s), theme(s) and analytical perspective(s) that you will address. However, your paper should present or include consideration of at least the following:

  • An argument structured around a clear and unambiguous theoretical frame of analysis (review chapters three and four for more information)
  • Identification of one or more conceptually-informed research questions drawing from (at least) one weekly theme of our course (a theme or set of themes introduced in Chapters 5 through 14 of the course textbook).
  • Identification and description of a case that illustrates or provides a landscape for appraisal of the research questions. This could be, for example, diplomatic exchanges between two or more countries, a specific trade agreement (TPP, NAFTA, etc.), a specific conflict, etc.
  • A sustained, consistent, and well-organized appraisal of the research question(s) identified. The appraisal of the research question(s) should be developed through consideration of no less than five (5) appropriate sources, at least three (3) of which must be peer-reviewed academic journal articles and/or government-produced policy papers.
  • A conclusion that explains the importance of the case study being considered to broader global issues and/or its relevance to a resident of Alabama (or your home state).

Examples: For example, if the causes of war discussed in Week 5 were particularly interesting for you, you might analyze a recent (twentieth or twenty-first century) conflict through a realist lens, and explain the causes and global consequences of that conflict. If trade policy was especially interesting to you, you might examine the recent steel tariffs imposed by President Trump and/or examine arguments in support of and against trade agreements like NAFTA.

Suggested Research Starting Points: Among appropriate starting points (this list is neither comprehensive nor exclusive) for identifying appropriate sources (minimum of five sources are required) are:

You are also encouraged to consider reporting from reliable news sources related to your case study of interest. However, journalistic articles should make up no more than 2 of the 5 sources consulted (or 40% of the sources consulted, in the event that more than five sources are used).

Formatting and Citation Minimum Standards: Papers that do NOT meet the minimum formatting, citation, and word count standards below will be awarded ZERO points. No exceptions will be made.

Support: I strongly encourage you to send me a brief statement of your research topic, once you have settled on one, via email so that we can ensure that your project will be able to meet the goals and expectations of the course. If you would like to take advantage of this possibility, please submit such a statement (1-2 paragraphs) prior to Monday, March 25

I am willing to read draft papers submitted by e-mail and will provide comments to improve the final submission for any draft papers submitted via email to me prior to Monday, April 15.

The paper should be carefully proofread to locate and correct grammar, spelling, and other syntactical errors. I strongly recommend submitting your final draft to the Writing Center for review. They require 24+ hours to review and provide recommendations.

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