History of International Relations
Area of Study
History, International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies
Taught In English
Course Level Recommendations
ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.
Recommended U.S. Semester Credits3
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units4
Hours & Credits
The “history of international relations” could mean several things: it could mean the history of how the
academic field of international relations has been studied over time; it could mean the ways in which nations
themselves have historically related with each other; or it could mean the ways in which international actors
have coalesced and interacted. It is this final concept of international actors, broadly conceived, that will
concern us in this course. We will study not simply conflict and diplomacy between states, but how and by
whom such states were formed, and how the qualities of such formation in turn shaped international relations.
Moreover, we will consider international actors beyond states, analyzing how political lobbies, merchant
groups, companies, and other transnational actors have shaped international politics. We will also consider
how environmental and biological factors (e.g. climate change and diseases) have dramatically impacted
international relations throughout history. Fundamentally, however, this is a course about relations between
diverse groups of people. In a nutshell, it is concerned with how power works over long distances. Power
takes at least four different forms: political, economic, ideological, and military. We will study how each of
these power structures has operated on the global stage, paying particularly close attention to the intersection
between political and economic power.
The purpose of this course and the specific interpretation of “history of international relations” it offers is to give
the student of international business a clear understanding of the processes that have created the complex
world we live in today. Through understanding these processes—witnessing how transnational power
structures have coalesced, developed, operated and interacted over time—the student will finish the course
with a deeper understanding of contemporary transnational politics and economy. Such understanding is
highly useful for those who wish to swim in the rich but treacherous waters of international entrepreneurship
during their professional lives.
The first two weeks of the course will focus on introducing the overarching themes and preparing students for
their presentations. They will also concern the first historical module: the High Middle Ages (represented by
the first floor of the virtual museum). Weeks three through five will deal with the second period of concern,
which witnessed the emergence of European empire (c. 1400-1600). Weeks six through eight will digest the
third historical module and museum floor, from roughly 1600 to 1830, which witnessed the foundations and
emergence of industrial capitalism. Weeks nine through 12 will assess the global effects of industrial
NI0259 Syllabus 2
capitalism during the period from 1830 to 1970. Finally, weeks 13 through 15 will concern the contemporary
period, wherein financial capitalism has become increasingly important and environmental catastrophe looms
large on the horizon.
Week one (July 18)
Conceptual introduction; tutorial in the virtual museum platform, discussion of schedule and assignments,
presentation sign up.
ACTIVITY: WORKSHOP ON COMMODITY PROPOSALS AND HOTSEAT/REVIEWS
First Floor of the Museum: The Reawakening of European Commerce, c. 1000-1400 AD
Week two (July 25)
NI0259 Syllabus 5
The Medieval Commercial Revolution; The Silk Road; Medieval Islam and Song Dynasty China
• Medieval Commercial Revolution in Europe
• The Song Dynasty
• Medieval Islam
• Introduction to first floor of the museum
• Braudel, The Perspective of the World, pp. 89-138
• Abu-Lughod, “The Thirteenth-Century World System”
ACTIVITY: WORKSHOP ON COMMODITY PAPERS
QUIZ: SYLLABUS, GUIDELINES AND FIRST FLOOR
FRIDAY, JULY 28: PROPOSALS DUE
Second floor of the Museum: The Emergence of European Empire, c. 1400-1650
Week three (Aug. 1)
Emerging oceanic networks in the Atlantic and Indian oceans: Fifteenth-century Portugal and China
• Portugal and the Age of Discovery
• The Ming Dynasty & The Treasure Fleets
• Introduction to second floor of the museum
• Braudel, The Perspective of the World, pp. 138-157
• Finlay, “The Voyages of Zheng He”
ACTIVITY: WORKSHOP ON COMMODITY PAPERS, PART II
Week four (Aug. 8)
The Columbian Exchange (The “discovery” of the New World and its immediate consequences).
• The Columbian Exchange
• Charles Mann, “The Dawn of the Homogenocene”
• Nathan Nunn and Nancy Qian, The Columbian Exchange: A History of Disease, Food, and Ideas
• Stuart McCook, “The Neo-Columbian Exchange: The Second Conquest of the Greater Caribbean”
NI0259 Syllabus 6
ACTIVITY: WORKSHOP ON THE COLUMBIAN EXCHANGE
Week five (Aug. 15)
The importance of silver and gold to the emerging capitalist system. The Reformation and the acculturation of
• The Age of Silver
• The Reformation and Capitalism
• Braudel, The Perspective of the World, 157-174
• Graeber, Debt: The First 5000 Years, 307-325
• Flynn, Giraldez, “Born With A Silver Spoon”
QUIZ: SECOND FLOOR
Third Floor of the Museum: From Primitive Accumulation to the Birth of Coal-Powered
Industry, c. 1650-1830
Week six (Aug. 22)
Slavery, debt, & the Triangular Trade
• The Slave Trade
• Introduction to third floor of the museum
• Davis, Inhuman Bondage, ch. 4
• Mann, 1493, ch. 3.
• Palmer, “Capitalism and Slavery” and the Politics of History
Commodity papers due: salt, wool, silk, jade
ACTIVITY: THE SLAVE VOYAGE DATABASE
Week seven (Aug. 29)
The Dutch Empire and the VOC; Tulipmania; Mississippi and South Sea Bubbles; The "Fiscal-Military State" &
The "Second Hundred-Years War"
NI0259 Syllabus 7
• The Dutch Empire
• Economic bubbles
• Gelderblom, “The Golden Age of the Dutch Republic”
• Galbraith, A Short History of Financial Euphoria, ch. 3-4
• Emmer, "The rise and decline of the Dutch Atlantic, 1600-1800"
Commodity papers due: tobacco, silver, sugar, pepper, indigo
ACTIVITY: SIMULATION ON ECONOMIC BUBBLES
Week eight (Sept. 5)
From Industrious Revolution to Industrial Revolution
• The Fiscal-Military State
• The Industrial Revolution
• Braudel, The Perspective of the World, 352-385
• Allen, “The Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective”
• Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution, ch. 2
• Jan de Vries, “The Industrial Revolution and the Industrious Revolution”
QUIZ: THIRD FLOOR
FRIDAY, SEPT. 8: SLAVE VOYAGE PROJECTS DUE
POINTS THRESHOLD FOR 15% OF COURSE GRADE PERTAINING TO ACTIVITIES
Fourth floor of the museum: The Age of Industry, c. 1830-1970
Week 9 (Sept. 12)
Nineteenth century globalization, liberalism and the Second Industrial Revolution
• Globalization and the Great Divergence
• The Second Iron Age
• Introduction to fourth floor of the museum
• de Vries, “The Limits of Globalization in the Early Modern World”
NI0259 Syllabus 8
• Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution, ch. 9.
• Peer H.H. Vries, Are Coal and Colonies Really Crucial?
• Landes, D. S. (2006). Why Europe and the West? Why Not China?
Commodity papers due: ivory, mahogany, rice, porcelain
ACTIVITY: DEBATING THE RISE OF THE WEST, PART I
Week 10 (Sept. 19)
The Great Age of Imperialism and its causes
• Nineteenth-century imperialism
• World War I
• Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, ch. 3, 13
• Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts, ch. 1
Commodity papers due: cotton, tea, diamonds, opium
ACTIVITY: DEBATING THE RISE OF THE WEST, PART II
Week 11 (Sept. 26)
Crisis renewed: The Great Depression and its consequences
• The 20 Years’ Crisis
• World War II
• Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes, ch. 3-4
• Cargill and Mayer, The Great Depression and History Textbooks
• E.H. Carr, The Twenty Years’ Crisis, ch. 3
Commodity papers due: beef, soy, shrimp, guano
ACTIVITY: DEBATING THE RISE OF THE WEST, PART III
Week 12 (Oct. 3)
NI0259 Syllabus 9
The Bretton Woods System and the emergence of the Cold War
• The Bretton Woods System
• The Cold War
• Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes, ch. 8-9
QUIZ: FOURTH FLOOR
Fifth floor of the museum: Neoliberalism and Ecological Peril, c. 1970-present
Week 13 (Oct. 10)
The Breakdown of the postwar capitalist compromise and the neoliberal “solution”
• The Crisis of the 1970s
• Introduction to fifth floor of the museum
• Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes, ch. 14
• Greaber, Debt, ch. 12
• Rodrik, The Globalization Paradox, ch. 5
Commodity papers due: rubber, bananas, natural gas, palm oil
ACTIVITY: THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF CLIMATE CHANGE, PART I
Week 14 (Oct. 17)
Climate and the changing face of international relations
• Climate geopolitics
• Foster, “The Fossil Fuels War”
• Dalby, “Environment and International Politics”
• Diamond, “Prologue: A Tale of Two Farms”
Commodity papers due: oil [petroleum], copper, cacao [and/or cocoa], coltan, lithium
NI0259 Syllabus 10
ACTIVITY: THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF CLIMATE CHANGE, PART II
Week 15 (Oct. 24)
• Lessons for Colombia
• Hylton, “Medellin’s Makeover”
• Bedoya, “Seguridad y Ciudadanía”
QUIZ: FIFTH FLOOR
Week 16 (Oct. 31)
ACTIVITY: SCAVENGER HUNT
FINAL DAY TO SPEND CLIOS: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6
Abu-Lughod, J. (1987). The Thirteenth-Century World System. Studies in Comparative International
Development. 22/4, pp.3-25.
Allen, R. C. (2006). The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective: How Commerce Created The
Industrial Revolution and Modern Economic Growth. Working paper, Oxford University.
Braudel, F. (1984). The Perspective of the World. New York: Harper & Row.
Braudel, F. (1979). The Wheels of Commerce. New York: Harper & Row, 1979.
de Vries, J. (2010). The Limits of Globalization in the Early Modern World. Economic History Review 63/3, pp.
Finlay, Robert. (2008). The Voyages of Zheng He: Ideology, State Power, and Maritime Trade in Ming China.
Journal of the Historical Society 8/3, pp. 327-347.
Foster, J. B. (2013). The Fossil Fuels War. Monthly Review 65/4, pp. 1-14.
Galbraith, J.A. (1990). A Short History of Financial Euphoria. Penguin..
Gelderblom, O. (2011). The Golden Age of the Dutch Republic. In The Invention of Enterprise:
Entrepreneurship from Ancient Mesopotamia to Modern Times. Ed. David Landes et al. Princeton,
2011. Pp. 156-182.
NI0259 Syllabus 11
Graeber, D. (2011). Debt: The First 5000 Years. New York: Melville House.
Hobsbawm, E. (1977). The Age of Capital, 1848-1875. London: Abacus.
Hobsbawm, E. (1987). The Age of Empire, 1875-1914. New York: Vintage.
Hobsbawm, E. (1996). The Age of Extremes, 1914-91. New York: Vintage.
Hobsbawm, E. (1996). The Age of Revolutions, 1789-1848. New York, Vintage.
Hylton, F. (2007). Medellín’s Makeover. New Left Review 44, pp. 70-89.
Mann, C. (2011). 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. New York: Knopf.
Mann, C. (2011). The Dawn of the Homogenocene. Orion magazine 30, pp. 16–25.