International Relations

A. Global climate change politics and International Relations theories (30 points)
We have been focusing on the COP26 climate change talks currently taking place in Glasgow, Scotland. COP26 refers to the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the signature global forum for climate change negotiations since the 1990s. Its goal is to accelerate the central aim of the 2015 Paris Climate Accords to stop the planet from warming more than 1.5 degrees C. This would require the world to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The world is on pace to meet or exceed 3 degrees (at least) by 2100 if current trends continue, as seen in The Economist docu-short we watched in class on Nov. 9.
The Glasgow conference is being pitched by scientists, activists, and some (but not all) politicians as an urgent opportunity to act before it is too late. But climate conferences like these have often disappointed, with many criticizing them as offering empty promises with little enforceable action. Among the sticky issues that have long dragged climate talks include historical responsibility, current & future emissions, financing climate adaptation, compensation for loss & damage, voluntary measures v. strong enforcement, climate justice for vulnerable communities, and accusations of greenwashing. Behind the scenes, it has been challenging to coordinate effective action between 200 countries with different histories of industrialization and consumption, and different levels of ecological deficits and surpluses. See an interesting global map that visualizes which countries are running an ecological deficit and how this is calculated: https://data.footprintnetwork.org/#/
Nonetheless, following the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility,” delegates hope world leaders will commit to robust Nationally-Determined Contributions (NDCs), which are basically long-term, transparent national plans of decarbonization that can be verified every five years to ensure the world is on track to keep to a 1.5 degree world.
Your task in Part A is to apply the analytical power of IR theories to the quandary of global climate change politics, offering perspectives on cooperation and conflict in Glasgow. To do so, select (6) of the following (8) theories and answer the following questions.
• What are the key assumptions of X theory?
• How would this theory describe the problem of global climate change politics?
• How would this theory prescribe effective solutions, if any?
• (1) page per theory will suffice.
Here is a list of IR theories we’ve studied this quarter:

  1. Normative IR theory
  2. Realism
  3. Liberalism
  4. Constructivism
  5. Marxism
  6. Postcolonialism
  7. Feminism
  8. Green Theory

B. Write a response to (1) of the following two questions (10 points):

  1. Write a critical reaction to the Frontline documentary about the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan that we watched earlier in the quarter. What do you see as the most salient issues raised in the documentary? What would you advise the international community to do to ensure peace and a hopeful future in the country? Reference specific moments in the documentary or quotes by individuals to help you compose your answer. To assist your critical reaction, you may also refer to reactions your classmates had in the Canvas discussion space for this film. (1-2 pages)
  2. Write a critical reaction to the textbook we’ve read this quarter – Richard Haass’ The World: A Brief Introduction. What do you consider its strengths and weaknesses as text for an introductory international relations course? What did you learn most from the book in terms of the ideas, concepts, or issues it raises, and what would you like to study further as a result? (1-2 pages)

Bonus Question (2 points):
What have you learned about the international relations of the country you are following this quarter for the World News assignment? (1 full paragraph)

Sample Solution

ACED ESSAYS