PS199/399, INTL 199/399 State of the World

Prof Mel Gurtov
Office: 650D Urban Affairs Building
Telephone: (502) 725-5974


Office Hours: Tues. 2-4, W 9-11

Course Purposes:

The course will critically examine the politics of some of the principal global issues of our time: the arms race, interstate and internal conflicts, human rights, the global environment and ecosystem, the world economy, and poverty, inequality, and other aspects of underdevelopment. Our purposes are to understand the origins and importance of these issues; to identify the specifically political forces at work; to consider the ethical dimensions of problems and remedies; and to see how interdisciplinary as well as political science frameworks can help in analyzing and resolving global issues.


Snarr & Snarr, eds., Introducing Global Issues (2nd ed.) - S&S
Worldwatch Inst., State of the World 2005 - SOW
C. Hedges, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning (for 399 students only)
web site for Internet assignments:

Course requirements:

1) consistent attendance - no more than 3 unexcused absences; (2) midterm examination, May 2; (3) paper, due May 23; and (4) final examination, Tuesday, June 13 at 10:15 a.m. 

Please take note: (1) Students are responsible for being aware of the date and time of the final examination, and making preparations to take it then. Only in exceptional circumstances will a final exam be given at another time. (2) The grade of I (incomplete) will only be given in extraordinary circumstances, and then only if the student has attended class regularly and completed all other assignments. (3) Excessive absences will severely affect your final grade.

Lecture Sequence: ( * are available in the Political Science Library, 650P UPA)

  1. Conflict, Security, and Prospects for Regional and International Stability (2 weeks)
  Readings: From Interdependence to Globalization: S&S, Introduction; SOW, pp. xxiii-xxvii
Internet: Thousands Died in Africa Yesterday
Nationalism and internationalism: S&S, ch. 3
The War System: S&S, ch. 5
Internet: U.S. Remains Leader in Global Arms Sales. For reference on current international conflicts, see:
Weapons proliferation: S&S, ch. 2
Internet: Saving Ourselves From Self-Destruction
New World Order?: SOW, ch.1
  2. Globalization and the Global Economy (2 weeks)
  Readings: S&S, part 2: Trade and Capital Flows (ch. 6); international finance (ch. 7); Poverty and Human Development (ch. 8)
SOW: ch. 2 (meat), 5 (nanotechnology), 10 (global corporations)
Internet: UN Development Program's Human Development Report; A.F.L-C.I.O To Press Bush for Penalties Against China; Reports Finds Few Benefits for Mexico in NAFTA; Wal-Mart; Latin America-Trade and poverty-Bush Meets Skepticism on Free Trade at Americas Conference, Brazil Drops Resistance to Genetically Altered Crops; Foreign Aid - Hard Realities:  World Leaders Rethinking Strategy on Aid to Poor; U.S. Income Gap Widening, Study Says; Washington Consensus: The Way We Live Now; Supermarket Giants Crush Central American Farmers; Newport Mining: Mining Giant Told It Put Toxic Vapors into Indonesia's Air; Fair Prices for Farmers: Simple Idea, Complex Reality

Guest Speaker: Wayne Luscombe, Ten Thousand Villages

  3. Development and Underdevelopment (2 weeks)
  Readings S&S, chs. 9-12: Population, Migration, Women, Children, Health
SOW, ch 8 (trade and sustainable development)
Internet: Spread of AIDS Fast Outpacing Response; A New Future for Spain: Call It Social Socialism; Women's Voices Rise As Rwanda Reinvents Itself; A Country on the Verge-Russia; New Face of Hunger

Guest Speaker: Prof. Suzanne Feeney, Institute for Nonprofit Management, PSU

  4. Human Rights, Genocide, Peacekeeping and Peacemaking (2 weeks)
  Readings: S&S, ch. 4 (Human Rights)
SOW: ch. 7 (disasters)
Internet: War Crimes-Court of First Resort; U.N. is Transforming Itself, but into what is unclear.
  5. The Environment and Resources (1.5 weeks)
  Readings S&S, chs. 13-15: the Atmosphere, Resources, Sustainable Development
SOW: chs. 3 (water), 4 (oil), 6, (mercury), 9 (green civil society)
Video: "The End of Suburbia" 
Internet: Warming May Threaten 37% of Species by 2050; Exxon Backs Groups That Question Global Warming, Private Management of Water
  6. Making a Difference (.5 weeks)
  Readings S&S, ch. 16.
Internet: microloans

Instructions for Papers

For PS/INTL 199 students

1. Using the Internet and related print sources, write a 3-4 page introduction to and appraisal of a globally-focused NGO or IGO. 

2. The paper should be footnoted (with specific page references), double-spaced, 12-point font, and paginated.

3. Examples of NGOs (all of them have web sites that should be consulted as part of your research):

World Vision Acción International Finca
Natural Resources Defense Council Carnegie Endowment Amnesty International
Int’l Committee for the Red Cross Human Rights Watch Northwest Medical Teams  
Mercy Corps Médecins Sans Frontières  SANE
Oxfam Grameen Bank Church World Service
Greenpeace PEN Nature Conservancy    
Habitat for Humanity Save the Children         CARE
Grassroots Int’l UNESCO WHO  UN Development Programme
World Bank     International Monetary Fund World Trade Organization       
NAFTA European Union (EU)  

For PS/INTL 399 students

With the book, War is a Force..., as a foundation, write a 6-8 page footnoted paper that addresses one of the issues the author explores or touches upon:

  •   the psychology of war: why leaders choose war over peace; misperception as a driving force of conflict;

  • The politics of economics of war (political, economic, and other internal forces that seem to drive the choice of war);

  •   internal conflicts—comparisons of; sources of; consequences of;

  • paths to peace: ways to prevent conflict; strategies of conflict avoidance or management;

  • the role of outside parties to conflict: arms suppliers; third-party mediators; NGOs;

  • a case study of a specific conflict or peacekeeping operation;

  •  the individual as peacemaker: personal efforts (e.g., on land mines and Track II diplomacy) that have influenced conflict and peace making; how each of us might make a difference.

Your paper should use a minimum of 6 sources (including two primary sources) in addition to the Hedges book.  The primary source may be an official document, major newspaper report of the time, or memoir.  The Internet may be used for official documents, newspapers, and published, signed scholarly articles.  Do not use news magazines such as Time.

When citing sources, use any consistent form: footnotes, endnotes, or in-text notes.  A bibliography is not needed; include relevant information (author, article and journal or book title, and page numbers) in your notes.

Check spelling, punctuation, and grammar.  A sloppily written paper will count heavily against you. Don't forget to paginate and title your essay.

Use 12-point font, please.

By all means come see me for suggestions about the topic or sources.