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Syllabus—Spring 2010

University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW)

PLS 427: International Organizations

Days and Times: Tuesday-Thursday: 2:00pm-3:15pm

Location: LH 111

Course Homepage: http://people.uncw.edu/tanp/PLS427.html

Professor: Paige Johnson Tan, Ph.D.

Phone: (910) 962-3221

E-mail: tanp@uncw.edu

Professor's Homepage: http://people.uncw.edu/tanp/index.htmlOffice Hours: Tuesday/Thursday 12:30pm - 1:45pm and by appointment

Office Location: Leutze Hall 257

Signpost put up by peacekeepers, Western Sahara (2003). From United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations.


Absent an authority greater than the individual state, the inter-state system is often characterized as anarchical. Over time, however, states have createdinternational organizations (IO’s) which, in addition to contributing to the solution of cross-national problems, also help to provide rules and structures to manage inter-state interaction. Further, IO’s serve as venues in which learning processes can occur and expectations about norms of international interaction can be created and reinforced. A more sanguine view of international organizationssees them as merely another venue in which states pursue their national interests. This course will explore and analyze a number of approaches to understanding IO’s.

The study of international organizations includes the exploration of formal international organizations (the United Nations), treaty organizations (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO), regional organizations (theEuropean Union, EU, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN), and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), like Amnesty International.

From this course, students will develop an understanding of the field of International Organizations. They will understand the evolution of international organizations as well as their roles, processes, and functions in the contemporaryworld. Students will explore several organizations in greater depth and analyze how international and regional organizations are meeting the challenges posed by such developments as the end of the Cold War and globalization.

Student Learning Outcomes:

In this course, students will acquire foundational knowledge in the subfield of International Relations.

Students will develop theirabilities to find information and apply it effectively.

Students will demonstrate the ability to express their ideas, both in writing and in oral presentation.

Students will develop their understanding of the variety of global organizations which exist, including inter-governmental, international non-governmental, universal, regional, multi-purpose, and single purpose.


Studentswill be evaluated on the basis of class participation, a map quiz, several papers, a midterm and a final examination. The distribution of the final course grade from the various assignments is:

Class participation: 10%
Map quiz: 5%
Midterm: 20%
Negotiation paper: 15%
Research paper: 20%
Final Exam: 30%

Class participation. In the old days, students were seen to be an empty vesselinto which the professor poured his or her knowledge (more than likely, it was “his”—since it was the old days!). However, this old-model of education has come under severe challenge in recent years. Rote memorization is now seen to offer little to students. How often have you “crammed” for a test and then forgotten everything you learned within a few weeks?

The philosophy behind this courseis that students learn better when that learning is active. Students are expected to attend class (with a maximum of two absences for the semester). They are also expected to participate in class discussions, considering, manipulating, testing, and questioning the topics presented in class in order to develop their knowledge of the field of International Organizations and their familiarity with...
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