Please note: This page is archived from the last time I taught this course.
For materials for current courses, please go to my teaching page.

Welcome to the course website for INTL 4240! This course provides students with a comprehensive account of the role of international organizations in world politics, including their creation, dynamics, and their complicated relationship with state behavior. We focus on international governmental organizations (IGOs), but will discuss (international) non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well.

IOs affect many issue areas in international politics, from international security, nuclear proliferation, and human rights to commerce, economic development, public health, and environmental protection. Yet, questions about both the relevance and feasibility of multilateral cooperation through international institutions frequently drive public debates in the United States and abroad. Are IOs undermining American sovereignty? Can states use IOs as a tool to impose their preferences on others? Are international institutions worth the cost for their member states? Is institutionalized multilateralism the answer to global problems?

We will work with the analytical tools commonly used by social scientists to approach these and other questions. First, we survey different frameworks to make sense of the role of IOs in world politics. In the second part of the course, students use these frameworks and their own research to explore contentious issues involving international institutions.

Syllabus (.pdf)


Presentation / Debate
Data Coding Project (Coding Submission Form)
Policy Paper


List of IGOs
Course bibliography


In groups of two or three, prepare a presentation on one or, if feasible, several of the IGOs listed in the syllabus for that day. The presentations must have the following components:
  • Purpose of the organization
  • Brief history
  • Membership: who belongs?
  • Decision-making: how does the organization decide which course of action to pursue?
  • Financing: where do the funds for the organization's operations come from?
For each of these points, you should reference the theoretical arguments discussed in the first part of the seminar: What are the dis/advantages of institutionalization? How do IGOs achieve their purpose? (How) do IGOs alter the calculus of states? What explains variation in compliance with IGOs' mandates? (How) might IGOs and NGOs change norms? etc.

Descriptive presentations of the above points will earn you a C. Incorporating theoretical perspectives into analytical presentations is necessary for an A. Excellent presentations ask questions such as:
  • Why did the founding members of the IO choose to establish an institution rather than address the issue through simpler (and cheaper) forms of cooperation?
  • How can we link the performance of the organization to its structure?
  • What role does the organization take in the institutional regime in that issue area?
On the day before the presentation, email a concise one-page summary and a brief annotated bibliography on a second page to me no later than 9pm.
Evaluation will be based on the following elements:
  1. Your team's complete annotated bibliography (10 points)
  2. The overall quality of your team's presentation (50 points)
  3. The quality of your personal presentation preformance (30 points)
  4. Your evaluations of the members of your group (10 points)
Your evaluation of your team members must be submitted attached to your paper. Use the peer evaluation rubric in this evaluation template for references on how to evaluate your peers.
Sign up for presentation topics via this spreadsheet on Google Docs.

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Alternatively to the IO presentation, you will organize debates on the topics that are given in the syllabus. Each debate team is expected to research the assigned topic and prepare to participate in an in-class debate on the assigned date. The debates will be organized according to the following format (covering about 30 minutes):
  1. 3-5 minute opening statements by each team (pro then con)
  2. 3 minutes to prepare rebuttals
  3. 3 minute rebuttals by each team (con then pro)
  4. 3 minutes to prepare cross-examination questions for the opposing team
  5. 5-10 minutes of alternating cross-examination
  6. 3 minute closing statements by each team (pro then con)
  7. Questions and comments from the audience.
Each team (2-3 students representing one side of a debate topic) should work together to research the debate topic and prepare for the debate in front of the class. In addition to the in-class debate, teams are required to put together a one-page summary of their opening and closing statements (a bullet-point list suffices) and a brief annotated bibliography on a second page. Your annotated bibliography should have a sentence or two summarizing the significance of the source for your side of the debate (in your own words) after each bibliography entry. Email this document to me no later than 9pm on the day before your debate.
Each individual student will be responsible for participating in discussion and planning sessions, contributing to research and preparation for the debate, completing an evaluation of their team members, and participating in the in-class debate.
Evaluation will be based on the following elements:
  1. Your team's complete annotated bibliography (10 points)
  2. The overall quality of your team's debate performance (50 points)
  3. The quality of your personal debate performance (30 points)
  4. Your evaluations of the members of your group (10 points)
Your evaluation of your team members must be submitted attached to your paper. Use the peer evaluation rubric in this evaluation template for references on how to evaluate your peers.
Sign up for presentation topics via this spreadsheet on Google Docs.

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Data Coding Project

In this project, you will work individually to review the structure and provisions of an international organization from the ones listed in the syllabus and in this list. This should be an organization from an issue area you address in your presentation or debate, and in your paper. If students sign up for the same organization, they still must conduct their coding separately.
  • The coding worksheet template provides you with specific factors to evaluate, how to evaluate these factors, and then how to code the information you find about the IO.
  • You will individually code the IO according to the coding rules provided.
  • In the last section, you will evaluate how "successful" you believe the IO you have chosen has been.
  • You will submit the final coding on a Google form at the link specified in the coding template.
  • This project will be due on June 1 at 9am. Submissions after 9am on June 1 are considered late and will be deducted one letter grade for each day that they are submitted late.
  • Wikipedia should not be a source for your actual research.
In evaluating the IO, you will focus on the design and structure of the organization. You will need to perform the following steps:
  • Thoroughly inspect the organization's website for information about the organization. Then find secondary sources (monographs or scholarly articles on the organization) through the UGA library.
  • You will use this information to answer a small number of questions about the organization's structure and features.
  • Based on this data collection, code the organization on two dimensions according to the scale given in the coding template (LOW, MEDIUM, or HIGH). Note that many organizations may seem to fall between two of these categories – make your best judgment as to which coding category you believe the organization belongs.
Sign up for your IGO via this spreadsheet on Google Docs.
Submit your coding via this form on Google Docs no later than 12pm on June 1, 2011.

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Policy Paper

Write a short paper, identifying an issue related to the treaty/agreement you are coding and/or debating. Discuss its success or failure in addressing its purpose. Provide a theoretical justification for your answer as well as evidence for the (relative) success or failure of the treaty or agreement. I strongly suggest that you use the required and recommended references for your topic/issue area given in the syllabus as the core of your sources.
All sources must be properly cited in this paper, using the Chicago Manual of Style author-date guidelines. Your writings should be analytic, insightful, creative, and integrate previous readings and your knowledge of the field. Do not regurgitate any of the readings or well-known arguments. Instead, use your theoretical and empirical knowledge creatively to argue for the position you have taken. Excellent papers will make clear points and tell the reader something new and enlightening.
Think of this assignment as a practice for writing concise briefs later in your professional career. Writing this position paper will ideally deepen your understanding of a controversial issue and improve your analytical and persuasive writing skills. You should write to inform and to persuade.
The papers must follow this structure:
  1. Informative title that sums up the thesis of the paper
  2. Brief statement of the issue the paper is exploring. This issue should be derived from the mission of the IGOs/NGOs that you address. For instance, you could start by stating that economic growth is linked to economic exchange, which necessitates inter-state coordination about the rules and procedures of trade.
  3. Formulation of the position the paper is taking (e.g. The WTO is an efficient instrument to promote growth in developing countries; or: For future strategies to spur economic growth in developing countries, pursue regional cooperation instead of global trade liberalization efforts.).
  4. Brief summary of the arguments the paper is making.
  5. A clear definition of the major technical terms used in the paper (e.g. "growth", "justice", "democratic", "war", etc.)
  6. Clearly structured arguments. Present at least three separate arguments. I strongly suggest that you state what theoretical approach your argument is following (e.g. realist/liberal-institutionalist/constructivist/etc.).
  7. At least 4 references to scholarly work backing up your arguments. These works can be articles or book (sections) we have read in the class, additional readings from the syllabus, or additional work you have found. You are free to use other citable material, such as opinion pieces by scholars or policymakers as well, but you need to provide at least 4 references to journal articles or books.
  8. A conclusion, summing up your arguments and pointing to the implications of your position.
The paper is due at the beginning of class on Monday, June 6. It should not exceed 2 pages, typed on single-spaced paper and submitted as a hard copy. You may print on both sides of the paper.
Sign up for your paper topic via this spreadsheet on Google Docs.
The paper will be evaluated along the following criteria, also available in more depth here:
  • Consistency and coherence
  • Quality of argument & evidence
  • Style
  • Clarity of the relevance to the subject of international organizations
  • Smart use of source material
  • Creativity
  • Adherence to the structure outlined above
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  • Foreign Policy - Passport Blog
  • UN Dispatch - News and Commentary on the United Nations
  • Foreign Policy - Turtle Bay Blog on the UN
  • Foreign Policy - The Multilateralist Blog on IOs in general
  • The European Convention on Human Rights Blog
  • International Economic Law and Policy Blog
  • IntLawGrrls Blog, with an extensive blogroll
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List of IGOs

General Security Regional Trade Development Human Rights Environment Back to top

Course bibliography

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