Political Science/International Studies 365 Honors

International Political Economy

Summer 2012

Bill Newmann


Office Hours:  This is an online course, so there will be no office hours.  However, e-mail as often as you like.

e-mail: mailto:wnewmann@vcu.edu

home page with links to other syllabi.  If you are a blackboard use and encounter problems, you can also access this syllabus through my home page: http://www.people.vcu.edu/~wnewmann/index.htm




                This course is an on line course.  All papers will be submitted through e-mail.  Please email an attachment and cut and paste the text of the paper into the body of the email.  The latter part is very important; please don’t forget.

All papers will be returned with comments through e-mail as well.  There will be no class meetings.  A full schedule of the class assignments and expectations is included in this syllabus.   For any questions you may have, e-mail is the first choice.  I will also be available by appointment for face-to-face meetings.  So please ask if you’d like to meet in person.

This course is an examination of theoretical and policy-related aspects of international economic issues.  All readings and all papers explore variations on perhaps the questions that ahs occupied policy makers in any political system more than any other question: How do I make my nation and my people wealthy? As you read the assigned books and write your papers keep that question in mind.  Scholars of international relations and economics have been trying to answer that question for as long as recorded history.  Now it’s your turn.  Linked to the syllabus is a short essay on theories of international political economy.  Read this before you read anything else (unless of course you’ve already started reading).  This is a good preliminary introduction that will be a useful reference for you as you read and write.  Please read this or you may find yourself lost. 

This is a writing intensive class.  You will read five books and write five papers.  You will have an opportunity to rewrite one paper to get a better grade.  That rewrite can be turned in at any time during the class, but must be turned in by the last day of classes.

Your initial papers may be rocky, but I am looking for your effort and indications that you are learning. Early difficulty will be overshadowed by the quality of your papers at the end of the course. Your grade will reflect the improvement. In other words, put the grade aspect aside for the moment and learn. If you learn something, you will ultimately be happy with your grades. What you have learned and your level of effort will be reflected in your final grade.  So, don’t be discouraged if your early grades aren’t what you had hoped.



The Papers

                You will write five papers.  Each should first five full pages in length, at minimum; more is fine (I’ll read as much as you want to write); five full pages is right on target; fewer than five full pages would lead to point deductions. Each paper is worth 20% of the grade.  I base the grade on several things:

1.       Introductory paragraph

2.       Organization of the paper

3.       Command of the theoretical material

4.       Command of the supporting evidence the author introduces

5.       Analysis of the author’s argument

What is the assignment.  In short, the author is making an argument.  Your job is to analyze that argument.  In your paper, please do not simply summarize the book.  Your paper should be 40% summary and 60% your ideas – critical comments on the author’s ideas and argument. When I say critical, I don’t mean that you have to disagree with the author.  I mean that you should assess the author’s argument in terms of:

1.       What is the author’s argument? (this is the summary part of the essay)

2.       Are there major assumptions the author makes that are good assumptions or bad assumptions? (Does the author base the argument on implicit or explicit assumptions about the world, about economics, about nations, about poverty, about whatever? Are those assumptions useful or do they skew the work?)

3.       Is the author theoretically consistent? (are there big contradictions in the author’s argument?)

4.       What about the author’s theoretical logic? (does the theoretical argument make sense to you?),

5.       What about the author’s supporting evidence? (does the author’s evidence support the theory?)

6.       Are the author’s arguments or evidence accurate? (does the author’s argument seem realistic given what you know about the world.  If so, why?  If not, why not? What is the author forgetting or ignoring?)

Be creative.  If you want to redesign the author’s theories, go ahead.  What are your ideas on the subject?  What is the author missing?  Where does the argument miss the point?  What are the logical conclusions of the author’s arguments and your ideas? 


Revision You will be required to rewrite one of your papers based on the comments I make on it after I have graded it. This is a requirement, but it is also an opportunity. If you are unhappy with a grade, you get the chance to fix a paper. Any one of the papers can be chosen for a rewrite except the last paper.  I will replace the grade for the paper you rewrite.  Use my comments on the paper to fix the papers you rewrite.  Please leave my comments on the paper when you submit the rewrite. 




The following books are available at the Virginia Book Company (Franklin and Shafer St.) and at the VCU Bookstore.  I will try to put them on reserve at Cabell Library.  I’ll let you know which ones are on reserve as soon as I have confirmation.

·         Thomas Friedman. The World is Flat (New York: Picador, 2007) 0312425074

·         Pietra Rivoli. The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, 2nd Ed. (New York: Wiley, 2007) 0470287160.

·         Paul Collier. The Bottom Billion (Oxford University Press, 2008) 978-0195373387

·         Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty (New York: Public Affairs, 2012) 978-1610390934

·         Arvind Subramanian. Eclipse (Washington, DC: Peterson Institute for International Economics, 2011) 978-0-88132-606-2


Friedman’s book is beach reading!   It is a grand tour of the global economy as it stands in the early part of the 21st century.  Friedman is an excellent tour guide and like most tour guides he is enthusiastic about what he’s showing you.  He has a very optimistic view of globalization.  He doesn’t ignore the complexities or difficulties, but he has faith that those can be overcome.


Rivoli takes you on a different kind of tour of the globalized economy by tracing the life and death of a t-shirt, from Texas cotton to Chinese factories to store shelves to resale in Africa.  It’s the nuts and bolts of globalization as impacts people’s lives around the world.  This book is also beach reading.


Collier examines life for the poorest of the poor in the world, their prospects and challenges. It may be a sobering account than Friedman, but Friedman and Collier are both examining the same phenomenon, but with a focus on different areas of the world.  This is probably not beach reading, though that might depend on what kind of beach you go to.  I read Dostoevsky at the beach.


Bannerjee and Duflo have a new perspective on poverty based in part on behavioral economics, an important one that may be revolutionizing the study of development.  Probably not beach reading. 


Subramanian examines the possibility that China will replace the US as the largest economic power in the world.  What are the implications of this shift?  China has great beaches.



Basic Requirements and Stylistic Issues in Writing for Social Science

1.       Papers should be five full pages, doubled-spaced with one-inch margins, and reasonable sized font (11 or 12 point). Shorter pages with wide margins and large print size font will be penalized.

  1. Quotes: Do not include long quotes!!! You can quote actual participants in an event, but do this sparingly if you feel it is necessary. So don’t quote general information that you found in a scholarly article and don’t quote the conclusions of other scholars.  Paraphrase the information or the idea in your own words and then cite the source. Do not give me a sentence in your paper that quotes that information directly from the source.  If it is basic factual information, it does not need to be quoted, but it does need to be cited.  Even if it is an analyst’s opinion, it does not need to be quoted.  Just paraphrase it in your words and cite the source.  Reserve quotes for direct participants or official statements.  The exact words matter in theses cases.  In general though, go easy on quotes.  Too many quotes means that you’re just cutting and pasting, not writing.  It doesn’t teach you anything and your grade will suffer horribly, terribly, and painfully. 
    1. So, for example, if noted terrorist scholar Reed Richards says in his book that “Al-Qaeda probably only consists of 10,000 people world wide.”  Do not give me a sentence in your paper that reads: Reed Richards says that “Al-Qaeda probably only consists of 10,000 people world wide.”  Give me something that says: One scholar estimates that al-Qaeda only has 10,000 active members globally. (Richards, 2003, p. 27).  The book doesn’t actually exist, but in the example, I’ve used a parenthetical reference, which gives the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number. 
    2. For your paper if you want to cite specific information, use parentheticals or endnotes or footnotes, but you don’t need to include a bibliography if all the citations are from the assigned book. 
    3. Or if Ben Grimm concludes in his book (not a real book) that: “Al-Qaeda’s growth depends on economic reform in the Middle East.  Elimination of poverty is not the biggest problem. Rather it is the ability of the middle class to gain social and economic mobility.”  Don’t quote that, but say: Grimm’s conclusions suggest that economic reforms designed to allow the middle class to grow and prosper will be the key to battling al-Qaeda in the future.  (Grimm, 2004, p. 235). 
    4. A good quote is this: According to Osama bin-Laden, “for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.” (Bin-Laden, 1998).  This is an excerpt from the 1998 fatwa of OBL.  Bin-Laden is a participant, a historical figure.  His exact words are important.

3.       WHEN YOU TYPE YOUR PAPER ON A COMPUTER MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A BACKUP DISK WITH THE PAPER ON IT. AS YOU TYPE THE PAPER SAVE THE FILE TO THE BACKUP DISK EVERY TEN MINUTES OR SO. This is especially important if you type on the university computers. Putting your paper on the hard drive in the computer lab is useless if they sweep the hard drives of files at night. Keep a backup copy for yourself. I have several backup copies of anything I write. You don't ever want to lose work because you didn't back it up.

4.      All paper are to be submitted over email at midnight of the date the paper is due, so if the paper is due June 17, that means midnight June 17 as June 17 becomes June 18.   Please email an attachment and cut and paste the text of the paper into the body of the email.  The latter part is very important; please don’t forget.  Do not put the paper in the Blackboard digital dropbox.



On Writing a Good Analytical Paper

  1. Make sure you have a subject and verb in every sentence. (You would be surprised how many important journals and books allow non-sentence sentences). This is non-fiction, not fiction. So you need to observe the basic rules of grammar.
  2. A long sentence is not necessarily a better sentence -- each sentence should express only one thought. Don't be afraid to break up a long sentence into two or three shorter ones. It will usually flow better that way.
  3. Make an argument in the paper. Do you agree or disagree with the author, and why? Does the author get the answer to his question right, but has faulty evidence? Does he provide strong evidence, but get the answer wrong? Is the author even asking the correct question? I'm interested in your opinions of the issue and the way you back up your analysis. You can summarize the author's argument as you analyze it. Remember what the purpose of your paper is. It is not a summary of the author's argument. It is an analytical examination of the author's argument and the issue the author is addressing. I want to know what you think. I know what the author thinks. I read the book. I don't know what you think.
  4. What do I mean by analytical? If someone makes an argument or statement, it needs to be examined, not taken at face value. As a good reader and scholar, you want to see if you can answer the following questions. (You might not always be able to do this; authors aren't always clear, but if you can't answer them, then you've learned something about the author's argument right there -- it is unclear.) (Some of this is mentioned above as well.)
    1. What is the major argument the author is making? What kind of cause--effect relationship does the author make? Can you summarize the argument for the whole book with one or two sentences?  You should be able to do this.
    2. What are the theoretical assumptions the author makes? They may be explicit or implicit. They might be stated up front or you might have to search for them. Do these basic assumptions stack the deck? If those assumptions were changed does it invalidate or change significantly the author's argument?
    3. What is the author's evidence? What is the quality of the author's evidence? Does the evidence support the argument?
    4. Are there hidden themes within the book, ideas that are not stated explicitly, but are crucial to the author's argument?
    5. If the arguments contain significant theoretical perspectives, do those perspectives fit other cases or the historical record as you know it?
    6. What are the implications of the author's argument? What does the argument say about the future?


For example, someone might say "China is an expansionist nation because it is going to invade Taiwan." So, challenge that idea; analyze it. Ask and answer some questions. Is it valid to prove a point using evidence that has not yet happened? Can someone say "I know that you are hungry because I believe that you will eat soon?" Isn't that simply hypothetical? If China hasn't invaded Taiwan, but the author believes it will, then the entire argument is based not on what China is or has done, but on what the author perceives about China. Have we learned anything about China? No, but we have learned something about the author. (I'm using an example taken from an op-ed piece in the Washington Post from 1997, which used this exact logic.) Now, you may believe that China is an expansionist power, but the author made a poor argument. So, you've got to make the argument stronger. If the author is convinced that China will invade Taiwan because China is building missile batteries along its eastern coast, buying equipment for amphibious landings, practicing amphibious landings, holding military exercises near Taiwan that simulate an invasion of an island, and saying “we will invade Taiwan.”  Then the author has a better argument.  What have we done here?  We’ve done some basic social science analysis. We've challenged the author's argument, examined his cause and effect logic, and revealed his assumptions.



The introduction of your paper (Important!!!)

This is the difference between an “A” and a “B”!

Writing for social science, in particular Political Science, is different from other types of writing.  It is absolutely crucial that you make sure that the reader of your paper knows a few things all within the first couple of paragraphs of the paper.  Here ae the three key things the reader must know: (1) what is your theme or argument; (2) how you are going to go about supporting that theme or argument, and 3) what are your conclusions . In other words, these first paragraphs or first paragraph should provide your reader with a "road map" that explains exactly what you will say during the paper. This is not as difficult as it sounds. Basically, what you need to do is write the outline you have for your paper in complete sentences in the first few paragraphs of the paper.  This is different from journalism, or History, or magazine writing, but it is the way we do it in Political Science. The reader should know what you are going to say by the end of the introduction.  It flows from the nature of government where your boss is a busy governmental official and has about two minutes of time to give to the five weeks of work you’ve been doing on analyzing some issue.  So for instance, if your boss is the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the DNI has asked you to write an analysis of whether Iran has nuclear weapons. He/She needs a quick summary of your answer that can be digested in about five minutes because he/she will be presenting that answer to the President of the US who will give the DNI about two minutes to present the answer.  So the style is to be very clear and concise and summarize everything in those first few paragraphs.


Here is an example of what I think is a good introduction to an analytical paper.


This is a sample intro paragraph for an analysis of Fareed Zakaria’s book From Wealth to Power. 


In From Wealth to Power Fareed Zakaria examines what causes wealthy nations to become “great powers” with large militaries and global foreign policy ambitions.  Historically, some nations translate their wealth into power, while others do not.  The reasons why nations make this transition is crucial – in almost all historical cases in which wealthy nations become militarily powerful the result is international conflict and/or war.  Though most analysts say that the transition from wealth to power and ambition is inevitable, Zakaria argues that the key ingredient in a nation’s rise to global power lies within the domestic political system.  When a nation’s government becomes strong, ready to use the nation’s resources for political ends at home, it also becomes ready to harness the nation’s resources to achieve political goals abroad.  His case study of the lag between US wealth (mid-19th century) and US ambition (late 19th century) provides an excellent argument of how the strength of the US government lagged behind the growth of its economy.  However, Zakaria has discounted two other important state-level factors that play a role in this transition: national ideology and historical legacy.  Some ideologies are more aggressive than others and will shape the way a nation deals with the rest of the world.  Some nations have a historical legacy of insecurity (Russia), or sense of international mission (US), or aggression (Japan), or even regional supremacy (China) that deeply influences its foreign policy.  Adding these variables into an assessment of a nation’s potential rise to power brings a more accurate vision of what translates wealth to power. This paper will first examine Zakaria’s argument then discuss the importance of national ideology and historical legacy.  A conclusion considers the shape of the 21st century, speculating on the wealthy nations that will seek to increase their power in the international system.  Ironically, this analysis suggest that the even as the US declines in relative wealth, its ability to use national resources, its ideology, and its historical legacy will lead it to fight – politically and even militarily – to maintain its leadership role.


You could construct an outline of your paper, an outline that could be used to develop headings and subheadings in the paper:

1.       Introduction

2.       Zakaria: Domestic Ability to Use Resources for Foreign Policy Goals

3.       The Missing Variables

1.       National ideology

2.       Historical Legacy

4.       Conclusions: US Hegemony: Same Ambition, Less Wealth


The key here is that by the end of the first paragraph, I know what you will write about.  I know what your analysis will be.  I know your conclusions.



Some other stylistic issues

  1. The use of “I”: Try to avoid using “I” in non-fiction.  Instead of “I will discuss three problems…” say “This essay addresses three problems…” or even better: There are three critical issues missing from Zakaria’s book: 1)….2)….and 3)….”


  1. The use of a semicolon: Semicolons connect two complete sentences that are related to each other.  For example: “I went to the pizzeria to get a pie; it was closed so I had Chinese food instead.”  You could also write them as two separate sentences if you wanted.  The following would be an incorrect use of a semicolon: “I had six very tasty pizzas last week; except for that crappy one from the big chain store.”  That should be a comma, not a semicolon.  The test is this.  If the two sentences you are connecting with a semicolon could stand alone as complete sentences then use a semicolon.  So it becomes obvious: “Except for that crappy one from the big chain store” is not a sentence.


  1. The use of “however”:  This trips everyone up.  It’s a bit similar to semicolons.  “I went to the pizzeria; however, when I got there, it was closed.”  Notice the semicolon, not the comma.  That’s because “When I got there it was closed” could be a complete sentence by itself.  Also, this sentence is like the use of a semicolon.  You are connecting two complete sentences.  In this case, you’re connecting two sentences that are related, but related in a very specific way.  The second sentence is adding the “however” to show a different expectation than the first sentence implies.  The first sentence implies you were going to eat pizza.  The second sentence says you didn’t.   On the other hand, look at this example: “I went to the pizzeria.  Upon arriving, however, I found out it was closed.”  The “however” is surrounded buy commas.  That’s because “upon arriving” is not a sentence by itself. 


  1. Its and It’s: It’s = It is.  Its = possessive form.  Talking about China, for example, would be “Its economy; its industry; its people.”





The VCU honor system covers plagiarism. It is not a fine line. Either ideas are yours, or they are not. But just because someone else has already written an idea that you agree with 100% doesn't mean you can't discuss it in your paper. Just point out whose idea it is; paraphrase it in your own words, cite the source of the idea, and expand upon it. Generally, that is how Political Science works. 90% of all Political Science articles and books do the following:


There are various analyses of al-Qaeda’s power. Stan says al-Qaeda is a nuisance, but has no real ability to achieve any of its regional and global goals. (Stan 2004). Kyle, disagrees, arguing that al-Qaeda can use its passive support to instigate the overthrow of many governments in the Middle East; however, once it does so, it makes itself more vulnerable to destruction by conventional-style US military operations.  (Kyle 2005). Cartman contends that al-Qeada could successfully achieve its goals.  Once having taken control of several regimes in the Middle East, the US will not have the capability to fight four or five simultaneous wars such as the current war in Iraq; the US will only have one option – containment of a new revolutionary ideology in a new cold war, in which terrorism will play a key role in the balance of power. Cartman 2005). Each analysis has merit; however, this essay concludes that a significant effort by the US at bringing populations in the Middle East into the realm of global capitalism and democracy, if accompanied by a new emphasis on human rights and international labor standards, will isolate al-Qaeda from Muslim populations around the world and leave it an extremist and fringe organization.


The article would then outline the theories of Stan, Kyle and Cartman, analyze each one, and then develop the fourth theory. There is no problem as long as Stan, Kyle, and Cartman get credited with developing their theories, and the fourth theory is new. If the fourth theory belongs to a fourth author (Kenny? Timmy?), the reader must be told that the fourth theory is Kenny's or Timmy’s and your article will show why his theory is superior to the other three.


I will catch any plagiarism.  It takes me less than ten seconds to take any sentence from your paper and cut and paste it into a google search engine.  If you have taken the paper from a document on the web, google will identify the source in under a second.  I know none of you would ever try this, so tell your friends.



My Comments

I will try to mark up your papers pretty heavily with grammar, substance, and devil’s advocacy, but the grade will reflect more of the substance.  But this is a writing intensive class, so expect to work on the writing style.  Even if your first papers are a bit ragged, your last papers will be sharply analytical and organizationally elegant.


I will get your papers back to you as soon as I can.  I will get them back before the next paper is due, so that you can use my comments to improve your next paper.


Last points

  1. Have you performed a spell check?


  1. Have your performed a grammar check?



LATE PAPERS I will mark late papers down ONE GRADE for each day late. That means that an almost perfect paper -- one that I would give 98 points to -- becomes an 88 if one day late, 78 if two days late, etc,... all the way down to 8 points if nine days late, and zero points if ten days late. Talk to me if you are having some family or personal problems. If there is a serious need to get an extension on the paper, I will give you an extension.  I do realize that there are more important things in life than this class and this assignment.  So if you run into a problem, talk to me. Computer problems do not count as a problem that warrants an extension.  If you are writing your paper at the last minute and you have a problem, the moral of the story is that you should not have been writing your paper at the last minute.  If you have a printer problem, no problem, give me your disk and I will print up the paper, or come to my office hours and we'll print up the paper at my office.  If you have some kind of computer problem, and you are not writing your paper at the last minute, let me know.  Maybe I can help.


Class Schedule

This is a tight schedule.  Don’t fall behind because you may not be able to catch up. 


Remember to submit all the papers through email.  Please email an attachment and cut and paste the text of the paper into the body of the email.  The latter part is very important; please don’t forget.


Before you read anything else, read the small essay called “A Brief Introduction to Theories of International Political Economy” linked to the syllabus.


June 11: Begin reading Friedman (I am expecting you to read Chapters 1-4 (pp 3-259), Chapters 10 and 11 (pages 403-474), and Chapter 15 (pp. 533-579).  You do not need to read the rest of the book.  You can, of course, but it is not required.


June 19: Friedman paper due at midnight (as the19th becomes the 20th)


June 20: Begin reading Rivoli


June 26: Rivoli paper due at midnight (as the 26th becomes the 27th)


June 27: Begin reading Collier


July 3: Collier paper due at midnight (as the 3th becomes the 4th)


July 4: Begin reading Bannerjee and Duflo


July 18: Bannerjee and Duflo paper due at midnight (as the 18th becomes the 19th)


July 13: Begin reading Subramanian


July 23: Subramanian paper due at midnight; rewrite also due (as the 23th becomes the 24th)

(Note that the course is technically over on July 19.  But that makes this schedule almost impossible.  I’ve extended the deadline for the final paper to give you more time.  You may turn the paper in earlier if you like).