Charles Lipson
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E-mail: [email protected]


Charles Lipson

Peter B. Ritzma Professor

Political Science Department

University of Chicago

5828 S. University Ave.

Chicago, IL 60637


Sources of International Order

Political Science 46000
Charles Lipson
University of Chicago
Syllabus for Winter 2005

                     Course meets Mondays, 1:30 til 3:50, Pick 506 Prof. Lipson's office is Pick 418b
                     Office Hours: Monday at 4  E-mail: [email protected]
  Ee-mails about this course should include PS460 somewhere in subject line.
Course Description

What is international order? What are its main sources? What is disorder? Is peace the same as order, or does the term refer to other kinds of equilibria? These questions are the focus of this graduate seminar, which will consider alternative understandings of international order, including the role of force, norms, voluntary agreements, and institutions.

The readings themselves are mainstays of the literature--major works that are covered in most IR theory courses. What is distinctive about this course is our focus. How do these scholars conceive of international order?

Administrative Details
  • Books are available at UC/Barnes & Noble Bookstore and the Seminary Cooperative Bookstore.
  • All assigned books are required for purchase.
  • All materials should be available at Regenstein Reserve.
  • This seminar is exclusively for graduate students. Each will receive a letter grade unless he or she receives written permission otherwise before Week 8.
  • Because this is a seminar, enrollment is limited. Priority will go to students with strong backgrounds in international relations and social theory.
    • All interested students are welcome to attend the first class session.
    • After the first session, Mr. Lipson will decide on final class enrollment. His written permission is required to enroll.
Course Requirements

This is a substantial reading course (one book per week) with two writing requirements:

1) shorter paper, approximately 5 pages, explaining and comparing two different conceptions of international order

2) longer paper, approximately 15-20 pages, plus an abstract, on the problem of international order

Each paper should have a title, plus your name and e-mail address on the first page. Each should be double spaced, stapled, with numbered pages. Please give me a hard copy. You may also send me an e-mail attachment, if you wish, but I will still need a hard copy of each paper.

Shorter paper (approximately 5 pages):

The goal of the short paper is to delve deeper into the assigned readings. Take two of the assigned topics; then compare and critique the concepts of international order they employ. For example, you could compare ideas of order within Realism and Neo-Institutionalism. You may use readings beyond those assigned or, if you prefer, you may stick with only the assigned readings. It's your choice. You may also explore variations within a particular approach, such as Realism, but, even if you do, you still need to cover two of the general theoretical approaches used in the course:

  • English School
  • Realism
  • Hegemonic Stability Theory
  • Neo-Institutionalism
  • Constructivism
  • Contractualism

Due date for shorter paper: Week 6, beginning of class

This shorter paper may serve as a foundation for your longer paper, or the longer paper may be on a different topic.

Longer paper (15-20 pages):

Each student will write a 15-20 page (double-spaced) paper, focusing on the problem of international order. This paper may be either a comparative analysis of several authors or a research paper.

  • Comparative review: A critical analysis and comparison of two or more books or articles dealing with problems of international order. These need not be assigned books. This may build on your short paper or, if you prefer, it may deal with entirely different readings. You may use any readings you choose, whether or not they were assigned for this class.
  • Research paper: Independent research on a topic of your choice dealing with some aspect of international order--modern or historical, theoretical and/or empirical. You have a wide range of choices here; the only requirement is that it explore the problem or concept of international order.

Of particular interest are papers that probe the meaning of international order, discuss how different sources of order are related, or consider how order changes (or is challenged). They may focus on theoretical writings, historical events, or other data, whatever best suits your topic and your interests.

Your sources for this longer paper need not be limited to the assigned readings. Use whatever readings and research materials you wish. The readings and topic need not be related to the shorter paper, although they can overlap if you wish.

The paper should have a title and its text should be organized in sections (each with a title), just as published articles are. Fluid, tightly-edited writing is welcomed, joyously. If you want to learn more about good writing, take a look at William Zinsser's On Writing Well.

Due dates for longer paper:

  1. Proposal: A one-page proposal is due in Week 8, at beginning of class. The proposal should indicate the
    • Type of paper you intend to write, a critical book review or research paper;
    • Main themes you expect to discuss; and
    • At least 2 books, articles, or other research materials you expect to use.
  2. Longer paper is due Thursday of exam week (at Professor Lipson's office, Pick 418b, at 4 pm).
Each longer paper should include a brief abstract of approximately 150-200 words.

The abstract should be resemble those in International Organization, briefly summarizing your questions, methods, and findings. Do not follow the misguided model of so many abstracts, which only say only what will be done in the paper: "This paper will examine the problem of international order, using data on modern wars. Important conclusions are reached." Don't do it that way. Instead, treat the abstract as a very condensed version of the paper itself.

Here's an example of a first-rate abstract, for Virginia Page Fornta's "Scraps of Paper? Agreements and the Durability of Peace" IO 57 (Spring 2003).

In the aftermath of war, what determines whether peace lasts or fighting resumes, and what can be done to foster durable peace? Drawing on theories of cooperation, I argue that belligerents can overcome the obstacles to peace by implementing measures that alter incentives, reduce uncertainty about intentions, and manage accidents  A counterargument suggests that agreements are eipiphenomenal, merely reflecting the underlying probability of war resumption. I test hypotheses about the durability of peace using hazard analysis. Controlling for factors . . . that affect the baseline prospects for peace, I find that stronger agreements enhance the durability of peace. . . .  Agreements are not merely scraps of paper; rather, their content matters in the construction of peace that lasts.

Fortna's abstract is brief and clear. It tells readers exactly what her article concludes and how it reaches that conclusion. Use it as a model. For others, please look at the opening pages of International Organization.

Class Presentations: Each student will participate in one group presentation.

At each class session, students will present assigned materials plus some supplementary materials. These presentations will be done by small groups, based on student research interests. Students should select three potential topics (such as the English School or Realism) in order of preference. Based on these preferences, Prof. Lipson will assign each student to one group.

What is International Order? What are its Sources?


The English School: International Society as the Basis of Order

Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics.


Realism: Force and the Balance of Power as the Source of Order

Kenneth Waltz in Robert O. Keohane, ed., Neorealism and Its Critics, chapters 4, 5, and 11.

Chapters 4 and 5 are from Waltz' Theory of International Politics. If you have this important (but expensive) little book, please consider reading all of it. Keohane's edited volume includes several important critiques, plus Waltz' response (chapter 11).

John J. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics

Hegemonic Stability Theories: Leadership to Create Order

Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics.

Robert O. Keohane, After Hegemony

Neo-Institutionalism: International Organizations to Facilitate Order

G. John Ikenberry, After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order After Major Wars

Constructivism: Norms to Constitute Order

Alexander Wendt, Social Theory of International Politics, chapters 1, 5-7, and conclusion.

Contractualism: Order through Self-Enforcing Agreements

Charles Lipson, Reliable Partners: How Democracies Have Made a Separate Peace

All Assigned Books Are Required Purchases for This Course
Available at Seminary Coop or UC/Barnes & Noble

Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics, 2nd ed. (NY: Columbia University Press, 1995). ISBN  paperback: 0231102976

Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics, reprint (1981; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). ISBN  paperback reprint: 0521273765

G. John Ikenberry, After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order After Major Wars (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001). ISBN paperback: 0691050910

Robert O. Keohane, After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984). ISBN  paperback: 0691022283

Robert O. Keohane, ed., Neorealism and Its Critics (NY: Columbia University Press, 1986). ISBN  paperback: 0231063490

Charles Lipson, Reliable Partners: How Democracies Have Made a Separate Peace (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003). ISBN  hardback: 0691113904

John J. Mearsheimer: Tragedy of Great Power Politics (NY: W. W. Norton, 2001). ISBN  paperback: 039332396X

Alexander Wendt, Social Theory of International Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). ISBN  paperback: 0521469600

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