GOVT-349 Honors Seminar: International Politics
Fall for 2008-2009
This seminar is designed to prepare you to write a senior honors thesis in International Politics (IPOL). Writing a thesis will deepen your knowledge and stretch your analytic skills in major ways. Yet doing this successfully requires hard work and an ability to break a large task into a series of manageable steps. The seminar’s purpose is to help you navigate these steps. By the end of the semester, you should have (1) a well-defined thesis question on an important topic, (2) a clear plan for answering that question, and (3) some ideas about how you might ground your question, arguments, and evidence in the appropriate substantive and theoretical literature of international politics.
The semester is divided into three sections. First, we examine how scholars choose research questions, evaluate possible answers, and select research strategies. A critical initial task is to frame an important yet manageable question. The question must be one that interests you, but it must also be one that you can answer convincingly with the resources you have available. The more precisely you pose your question and the clearer your plan for answering it, the better the thesis will be (and the less frustrated you will be in writing it).
In the second part of the seminar, we will discuss some major questions and arguments in the IPOL literature on international institutions and rules, trans-state actors, security, foreign policy, and international political economy. These categories are the subfields that make up the IPOL major; together, they comprise the key sets of issues in the overall IPOL field. Even though all of you are choosing specific topics for your theses, you will need to ground your research question and a strategy for answering it in some larger conceptual and empirical bodies of work. By discussing ideas in relation to these major areas of the field, you should come to understand the broader significance of your question.
We will then spend the last part of the semester discussing and critiquing your initial drafts.
Other academic years
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