New Undergraduate Course - Are Things Getting Better? The Question of Progress in World Affairs

Monday, November 16, 2015

Taught by Professor of Political Science, Joseph Grieco, this course addresses an important question about world affairs: are governments and their respective societies making progress in building a more peaceful and just global order? To pursue this question the course will have three main sections. The first will demonstrate that the question of international progress is driving important contemporary debates about foreign policy and world affairs, and has long commanded the attention of writers in the fields of politics, history, sociology, and philosophy. The second part of the course will assess the presence or not of international progress in three key areas of world politics: peace and war, democracy and human rights, and economic development. The final section of the course will examine several possible causal mechanisms that may be contributing to or impeding international progress: global culture and reason/empathy, industry and technology, democracy, global capitalism, and U.S. hegemonic leadership. During the semester we will devote several class meetings to writing workshops centered on the preparation of successive sections of the research paper, discussed in the next section. Students will constitute small working groups, typically four students to a group. Prior to each workshop, students will send the relevant section to the members of their working group electronically. At the workshops, students will provide feedback to one another and will receive suggestions from the TAs and the instructor. This course will be of particular interest to students who wish to pursue an internationally oriented career in government, business, with an NGO, or in the media.

The Duke Signature Courses unite a diverse range of undergraduates in the exploration of compelling challenges or “big questions” of our time. These courses--taught by our most renowned scholar-teachers--highlight Duke's particular strengths in promoting active interchange among faculty and students in the humanities, natural and social sciences, arts, and engineering. Signature courses are designed to integrate curricular and co-curricular engagements, and to foster the skills that prepare you for life-long learning. Drawing explicit connections between the past and present, these courses provide you with an informed analytical context for understanding significant social, cultural, political, or scientific issues, events, or historical moments.