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Global Justice and International Politics

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Course DatesWeeksMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRN
June 23, 2014 - July 11, 20143M-F 3:50-6:40PWaitlistedMinh Ly10466

Course Description

Do we have duties to help the poor in other countries? Should the UN and World Bank be made more democratic? This course introduces students to the most important ethical debates about global politics. The course strongly appeals to students who are interested in ethics, political philosophy, public policy, and international relations.

The course will engage students with three major debates. The first is global poverty. Malaria, a major poverty related disease, kills a child every thirty seconds in the developing world, according to the United Nations Children Fund. Do we have a duty of justice to prevent and treat illness in other countries? Should we go further, and reduce poverty globally? Or should we give greater priority to people in our country?

The second part of the course turns to the United Nations, World Bank, IMF, and other global governance institutions. As countries cooperate more closely to solve the largest ethical issues of our time, from poverty to disease and security, global governance institutions have grown more powerful. How can we ensure that they will also be accountable, legitimate, and fair? How can global governance be made more democratic and responsive to the concerns of ordinary people?

Finally, students will turn to the justice or injustice of war in international politics. This issue is of great timeliness and relevance, as the United States is fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a global war on terror. Is it right or wrong to wage certain kinds of war? What are the limits on the means that we can use in war? Should we do more to protect civilians?

By the end of the course, students should develop:

1. A deeper understanding of the most important debates in global justice, as an introduction to further work in this field.

2. The ability to analyze normative arguments from political philosophy, taken from journal articles, scholarly books, and public policy case studies.

3. The skills to present a fair, informed, reasoned, and confident position in both written and oral assignments. These written assignments include position papers and a final course paper. The oral assignments comprise presentations on the readings in the beginning of class, and debates between sections during class.

To learn the most in the course, students are recommended to follow the international news in the New York Times in the months leading up to the summer. A helpful book to read is "One World" by the Princeton philosopher Peter Singer.