module specification

GI5065 - Shifting Global Power in the 21st Century (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Shifting Global Power in the 21st Century
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 150
 
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Seminar 25%   Seminar assessment
Coursework 75%   2,000 word essay
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Wednesday Morning

Module summary

This module will examine how the nature of power in international relations has changed since the ending of the Cold War. The collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s  was argued by many to be a triumph of the West’s military and industrial might, ushering in what Francis Fukuyama described as the ‘end of history’ – the triumph of western liberal democratic ideas. However, events since then, not least the attacks of 9/11 and the economic collapse of 2008, have highlighted new threats that exist, the increasing role of non-state actors, and the rise of competing economic powers. Using the framework first put forward by Joseph Nye of “soft”, “hard” and now “smart power”, this module will examine how international politics is changing and how the nature of power - defined as the ability to affect others to obtain the outcomes you want - has changed dramatically. It will show that power is not static, but that it may now be more complex in nature, as innovation, technologies and relationships change.

This theoretical approach will then be applied to consider how power may be shifting in the 21st Century from the West to the East, or the so-called “Rest”.  This will involve a regional analysis, examining how and why some states are rising in global prominence, e.g. China, Brazil, India, and South Africa, and why the West may (or may not) be in decline (incorporating European and American specialisms). This will allow for a consideration of the growing role of underdeveloped and developing countries and the challenges they face in the current distribution of power, particularly within the turbulent international political economy and the global transformations that are occurring.

Module aims

The broad aim of this module is to explore the changing nature of power and how relationships between states may develop in the 21st Century, and in particular to:

  • Understand the nature or power in international relations and its impact on international development.
  • Analyse why the West became the dominant power in the world and why its power might decline this century.
  • Assess which states will challenge the West and why (including developing and under-developed states).

Syllabus

Definitions of power; Why the West triumphed; The importance of the International
political economy and the future of Liberal Capitalism; Is the West in decline? How can we
define the “Rise of the Rest”? The role of religion, the media, and cyberspace in changing power
relationships; Regional Case Studies, e.g. the BRICs, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

Learning and teaching

Teaching consists of a weekly two hour lecture followed by a one hour tutorial. Lectures will involve a combination of taught lectures, videos and the use of first hand documents and websites. During the module seminars will combine a variety of methods including discussion based on pre-set questions and role plays. Blended Learning will be a key component of the module. Lecture notes and first hand documents for use in class will be posted on line, as will web links for academic and governmental websites, as well as video links.  Some recorded material by the module tutor may also be made available on line.

Materials for use in class will be posted at least one week in advance on line to allow students to prepare and reflect on the subject. Questions for class discussion will be available from the beginning of the module via the Module Booklet available on weblearn, which will include a list of resources students can use to answer the questions and study the subject in greater depth.

A formative piece of work in the form of a group role play on a contemporary issue will take place mid-module to enable students to reflect on their understanding of the subject matter to date in order to put in place learning strategies for the remainder of the module. The role play will be peer-reviewed in class.

There will be two summative components. The first will be seminar assessment which will take place throughout the module. This is designed to enable students to use a range of learning methods and employability skills, including: independent research; reading a wide range of primary and secondary sources; communicating ideas verbally in class; and working in a group.

The second component is a summative essay which will provide students with the opportunity to submit a major piece of work of their choosing on a key element of the module. This will enable students to develop writing and research skills whilst reflecting on what they have learnt.
An activity week will also be included in the syllabus to expand on subject-specific knowledge and skills.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module students should:

  • Be able to identify key actors and processes in contemporary international relations.
  • Understand the controversy surrounding notions of power and how this may be transforming.
  • Be able to assess and critically analyse international developments, in particular the possible transformations in global power that might occur in the 21st Century, their causes, and their implications.

The transferable skills students should have developed include:

  • The ability to communicate effectively in speech (the ability to work under pressure in seminars, where students must demonstrate the ability to respond to questions orally and also work as a team)and writing (for example, writing an essay using commonly accepted standards of definition, analysis, grammatical prose, and documentation).
  • Research skills, including the ability to synthesise and analyse arguments and exercise critical judgement.
  • The capacity to work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management, as well as co-operating with other students to achieve common goals.

Assessment strategy

A formative piece of work in the form of a group role play on a contemporary issue, which will be peer reviewed in class, will take place mid-module to enable students to reflect on their understanding of the subject matter to date in order to put in place learning strategies for the remainder of the module. This will encourage the development of a variety of employability skills including: research involving information retrieval from a variety of resources; analysing and advocating solutions to problems; developing a reasoned argument; exercising critical judgement; and collaborating with others towards a common goal. 

The first summative component will involve seminar assessment, which will take place throughout the module. This is designed to enable students to use a range of learning methods and employability skills, including: independent research; reading a wide range of primary and secondary sources; communicating ideas verbally in class; and working in a group.

The second summative component will be an essay, which will provide students with the opportunity to submit a major piece of work of their choosing on a key element of the module. This will enable students to develop further many of the employability skills introduced during the formative assessment, in addition to writing, reflecting on what they have learnt and making use of constructive feedback.

Bibliography

Brooks, S. & Wohlforth, W. (2016) ‘The Once and Future Superpower: Why China Won’t Overtake the United States’, Foreign Affairs, May/June.
Colby, E. & Lettow, P., (2014) ‘Have We Hit Peak America?: The sources of U.S. power and the path to renaissance’, Foreign Policy, July/August
Ferguson, Niall, (2011) Civilization: The West and the Rest, London: Allen Lane.
Jacques, Martin, (2012) When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, New York: Penguin.
Haass, R. (2017) ‘World Order 2.0’, Foreign Affairs, January/February.
Haass, R. (2017) A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order, New York: Penguin Press.
Khana, Parag, (2008) Second World: How Emerging Powers are Redefining Global Competition in the Twenty-First Century, New York: Random House.
Kupchan, C., (2012) No One’s World: The West, the Rest, and the Coming Global Turn, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mahbubani, K., (2013) The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World, New York: Public Affairs.
Moran, A. (2017) ‘Barack Obama and the Return of “Declinism”: Rebalancing American Foreign
Policy in an Era of Multipolarity’, in Ashbee, E. and Dumbrell, J., The Obama Presidency and the
Politics of Change, London: Palgrave.
Moran, A., (2015) ‘The United States: Finding a Role in the Post- Cold War and Post-9/11 World’, in Malik, S. et al, International Security Studies, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
Ministry of Defence, (2014) Global Strategic Trends out to 2045, at www.gov.uk/government/publications/global-strategic-trends-out-to-2045. 
Morris, Ian, (2011) Why the West Rules – For Now: The Patterns of History and what they reveal about the future, London: Profile Books.
Moyo, Dambisa, (2011) How the West Has Lost: Fifty Years of Stark Economic Folly – and the Stark Choices Ahead, London: Allen Lane.
National Intelligence Council, (2017) Global Trends: Paradox of Progress, at www.dni.gov/files/images/globalTrends/documents/GT-Full-Report.pdf
Nye, Joseph, (2011) The Future of Power, New York: Public Affairs.
Nye, Joseph, (2017) ‘Will the Liberal Order Survive?’, Foreign Affairs, January/February.
Nye, Joseph, (2015) Is the American Century Over?, Cambridge: Polity.
Rachman, Gideon, (2010) Zero-Sum World: Politics, Power and Prosperity After the Crash, London: Atlantic Books.
Zakaria, Fareed, (2008) The Post American World, New York: Norton.

On-line resources include: Foreign Policy at www. foreignpolicy.com; Foreign Affairs at www.foreignaffairs.org; The Washington Quarterly at www. twq.elliott.gwu.edu; and the Journal of International Affairs at www.jia.sipa.columbia.edu.  Additional journals include: Journal of Modern History,  Journal of Modern African Studies; International Affairs, Third World Quarterly, and The World Today. There are also a growing number of e-books relevant to this module available via the library.