Syllabus for Political Science 453

International Organization

Tues, Thurs., 12:40-2:00 pm, Science 277

Fall 2006, Iowa State University

Christopher L. Ball, Lecturer

Dept. of Political Science

Office Hours: Tu. 2:10-4:10 pm & by appt.

517 Ross Hall

Phone: 515.294.4652


This course studies the politics, theory, and history of international organizations (IOs), in particular the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. The first part of the course examines theories about international organization and “global governance” and the history of IOs. The second part examines IOs and global bureaucracies, focusing on peacekeeping and human rights. The third part of the course focuses on the politics and effectiveness of international economic institutions.  


All students must do the assigned reading. I reserve the right to distribute unannounced in-class quizzes on the assigned readings for the week. In addition to course readings, students should follow current events. The New York Times, The Washington Post or National Public Radio (NPR) news broadcasts (on WOI 640 AM and KTPR 91.1 FM) are excellent daily news sources. I will also post items on the course website.


The main course website is at this URL:  <>. I will post slides displayed in class, relevant links, and information about the course. There is a WebCT site as well. This will be used to post assigned articles, host a discussion forum, and post grades.


Class Participation: All students should be prepared to participate in class discussions. Each student has a D as his or her default grade. If students participate well, their grades will be increased. Students who fail to participate or who do so poorly will get a D. I will call on students in class by name on a rotating basis. Responses to these questions count toward class participation. Participation is worth 20% of the course grade. In addition, there is a WebCT discussion forum. Participation there counts toward class participation.


Students are not expected to perform Periclean orations, but everyone should be prepared to discuss the assigned readings, current events, and question that I pose. Criticisms of points made in readings, by fellow students, and by yours truly are welcome, and debates may emerge among students. Students should respect their classmates’ contributions, and refrain from partisan or parochial philippics. The purpose of these discussions is not to win imaginary debating points, but to learn beyond solitary reading and unexamined listening.


Mid-Terms Essay:  Students will write three essays during the semester based on topics that I provide and on a schedule that I assign. The first essay counts for 10% of the course grade and the subsequent two essays count 20% each.


Final Exam Essay: There is a final exam essay due during finals week. It will be a longer than the mid-term essays. It is worth 30% of the course grade.

Penalties: Students must submit all work on time. There are two exceptions. First, for personal emergencies (e.g., a death in the family, medical problems), students should obtain a note from the dean of students or their physician. Second, for students with extra-curricular activities that conflict with deadlines, arrangements for an alternate date and time must be made at least a week in advance. The student must provide verification of the activity in order to be eligible for an alternate deadline. I do not accept notification after the fact (e.g., “I didn’t turn in my paper last week because I had a match/concert”).

A computer mishap will not excuse a late paper. You should make frequent and multiple back-ups of your work (to at least 2 separate floppy disks or other removable media), so that you never lose more than one hour’s worth of work. If you own your own computer, be sure you familiarize yourself with the ISU’s computer labs in case your system breaks down.

Grade Components

Your final grade will be calculated as follows:

·        Participation: 20%

·        Mid-Terms Essays: 50%

·        Final Exam Essay: 30%


Each component will be assigned a letter grade, converted to a grade point, and multiplied by its percentage weighting. I do not accept make-up assignments, re-writing of papers, or extra-credit work.

Academic Honesty

Iowa State University regulations regarding academic honesty will be enforced. See Iowa State University Catalog, “Academic Dishonesty,” p.38-39. The penalty for plagiarism or cheating on

exams is failure for the course.


ISU advises: “If a student has a disability that qualifies under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and requires accommodations, he/she should contact the Disability Resources (DR) office for information on appropriate policies and procedures. DR is located on the main floor of the Student Services Building, Room 1076; their phone is 515-294-6624.” 


There are six books for purchase at the University bookstore and on reserve at Parks Library. Other articles will be posted to the WebCT.


Barnett, Michael N. & Martha Finnemore. Rules for the world. International organizations in global politics (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, N.Y: 2004)


Iriye, Akira. Global community. The role of international organizations in the making of the contemporary world (University of California Press, Berkeley: 2002)


Karns, Margaret P. & Karen A. Mingst, International organizations. The politics and processes of global governance (Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, Colo: 2004)


Narlikar, Amrita. The World Trade Organization. A very short introduction (Oxford University Press, Oxford : 2005)


Traub, James. The best intentions. Kofi Annan and the UN in the era of American world power (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York: 2006)


Woods, Ngaire. The globalizers. The IMF, the World Bank, and their borrowers (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, N.Y: 2006)



9 & 11 Jan.


Karns & Mingst, chap. 1-2


16 & 18 Jan.

Anarchy v. Governance

Karns & Mingst, chap.3 & 4


23 & 25 Jan.

History of Global Governance

Iriye, introduction and chaps.1-3

Traub, chap. 1


30 Jan. & 1 Feb.

NGOs & Civil Society

Mingst, chap.6

Iriye, chap.4-5


6 & 8 Sep.

IOs and Global Bureaucratic Politics I

Barnett & Finnemore, chaps.1-2

Traub, chaps.3-4


13 & 15  Feb.

IOs and Global Bureaucratic Politics II

Karns & Mingst, chap. 7

Traub, chaps. 15-17 & 19


20 & 22 Feb.

Problematic Peacekeeping I

Karns & Mingst, chap.8

Barnett & Finnemore, chap.5

27 Feb. & 1 Mar.

Problematic Peacekeeping II

Traub, chaps. 12, 14 (pp.240-43 only) & 18

Report of the Secretary-General on the Sudan 25 Jan. 2007 at


“Conflict History: Sudan” International Crisis Group at



6 & 8 Mar.

Human Rights Regime

Karns & Mingst, chap. 10

Barnett & Finnemore, chap. 4

Traub TBA


Spring Break


20 & 22 Mar.

Regional IOs

Karns & Mingst, chap.5


27 & 29 Mar.

Governing the Global Economy

Karns & Mingst, chap.9 & 11


3 & 5 Apr.

The World Trade Organizations

Narlikar, all 

10 & 12 Apr.

IMF & the World Bank I

Woods, chaps. 1-3

Barnett & Finnemore, chap. 3


17 & 19 Apr.

IMF & the World Bank II

Woods, chaps. 4-7


24 & 26 Apr.


Barnett & Finnemore, chap. 6

Iriye, chap. 6

Karns & Mingst, chap.12