Regional Studies: North America

Universidad EAFIT

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Regional Studies: North America

  • Host University

    Universidad EAFIT

  • Location

    Medellín, Colombia

  • Area of Study

    American Studies, Business, International Affairs, International Business, International Relations, Multicultural Studies, Political Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

    48
  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4
  • Overview

    I. COURSE JUSTIFICATION:
    North America is considered by most academics and politicians as one of the
    greatest and more influential regions of the world. Beyond the perceptions about the
    United States, the dynamics of the entire region make it one of the most important
    markets in the world and a key player in global politics. Along with this idea, anyone
    interested in studying the dynamics of the international community must understand
    the role of this region in International Relations and business. Making special
    emphasis on the role that North America has played through history, and specifically
    how it has related to Colombia.
    For this previously mentioned country, the United States represents the main trade
    partner, which affects not only the commercial perspectives but also the country’s
    international actions. It is in this context that a historical, political and commercial
    analysis of this great power of the 20th century is required. In the case of Canada,
    the establishment of internationalization strategies and the strengthening of
    International Relations with Colombia make this country an important subject of
    studies. Regarding Mexico, it is important as well, to analyze what kind of role it plays
    in North America and how its Latin heritage affects the role of this country in this
    region.
    This course addresses economic development and competitiveness issues, and the
    commercial ties between Colombia and the three countries; as well as political,
    cultural, and historical issues. The particular characteristics of Canada, the United
    States and Mexico, are of special importance, looking to set a place for debate and
    research on North American International Relations issues, specially, the bilateral
    agenda with Colombia.
    II. COURSE GENERAL OBJECTIVE:
    The purpose of this course is to introduce the students into the historical, economic,
    political and social analysis of the United States, Canada and Mexico and to provide
    them with the systematic skills to interpret U.S. – Canada – Mexico-Colombia
    relationships in the context of politics, trade and development. It is also oriented to
    understand the role and the importance of these countries as trade partners and
    diplomatic allies for Colombia, from the perspective of the internationalization of the
    national organizations, and considering the Government initiatives to consolidate
    strong political and economic ties with diverse countries of the world.
    This program has been developed considering the impact of a broad spectrum of
    disciplines providing an introduction to the analysis of historical, economic, political
    and social issues of North America, and focusing on key issues faced by Canada,
    the United States and Mexico in the international scenario and the ongoing prospect
    of the bilateral agendas.
    III. ANALYTIC DESCRIPTION OF CONTENTS:
    Unit 1 - Introduction and Geography
    This unit offers an approach to the geography of Canada, the United States and
    Mexico; as well as the general elements characterizing each country. The objective
    is to understand the impact of geographic variables on the socio-economic and
    political organization of each unit.
    This module is important because it gives the student a more holistic view of the
    regional geography, therefore having the knowledge to locate into a map, its political
    division, its more important natural resources, and elements of its human geography,
    such as the urban concentrations, which can be useful.
    Objectives:
    • To present the students with the course program, in order to coordinate the
    activities for this part of the course and to explain its pertinence in the program
    of studies for the emphasis in International Relations.
    • To identify the main geographic characteristics of the United States, Canada
    and Mexico, including the name of political divisions, its location, the most
    important cities and most relevant features in terms of natural resources and
    economic development.
    First class – 17 July
    • General presentation and introduction to the program.
    • Relevance of the course for International Relations.
    Activities:
    • Introduction to the course, methodology and evaluation.
    • Students’ introduction.
    • Lecturer’s speech.
    Second class – 24 July
    • Geography and territorial definition of North America.
    • North America as a subcontinent of America.
    • Basic geography of Canada, United States and Mexico.
    • Impact of geography in the socio-economic and political organization of North
    America.
    Activities:
    • How to write a research paper.
    • Lecturer’s speech.
    • Students’ presentation.
    Reading:
    • Birdsall, S. & Florin, J. (1998) Outline of American Geography. A publication
    of the U.S. State Department.
    • Brescia, M.M. & Super, J.C. (2009) North America: An introduction, Toronto:
    University of Toronto Press, p.37-54, 59-61.
    Unit 2 – History
    History is important because it shaped the current structure of Canada, the United
    States and Mexico. It also determined their political organization; each government’s
    relations with its citizens, and it established the values guiding each country´s role in
    the international scenario.
    Objective
    • To study the most important events in the history of the three North American
    countries, such as the European explorer’s arrival, the disputes that surged
    among settlers and the tribes; the independence processes and the nationbuilding
    period. It is also important to determine the key events in the case of
    each country and their impact on their current status in the world.
    Third class – 31 July
    • General stages of U.S. History.
    • Role of the United States in the 19th/ 20th centuries.
    • General history of Mexico.
    Activities:
    • Lecturer’s speech.
    • Students’ presentation
    Readings:
    • Westin, R. (2012). Americans' Unwillingness to Pay Taxes Before the
    American Revolution: An Unconfortable Legacy. The Journal of
    Jurisprudence , 11-25.
    • Coclanis, P., & Engerman, S. (2013). Would Slavery Have Survived Without
    the Civil War? Southern Cultures , 66-90.
    Fourth class – 7 August
    • General elements of Canadian history.
    • Canada as a colony of the United Kingdom.
    • HAND IN PAPER PROPOSALS
    Activities:
    • Lecturer’s speech.
    • Students’ presentation
    Reading:
    • Michael Hart (2002). The Old Mercantilism. In: A Trading Nation. p. 14-44.
    Unit 3 – Political Framework and Foreign Policy
    This unit about the Political and Legal framework and Foreign Policy, is oriented to
    understand the operation of each country’s government, how the different institutions
    are linked and what is their scope and level of influence in the decision making
    processes, in both the political and socio-economical levels and at the national and
    international scenarios.
    This unit also discusses the principles and values that forge the Foreign Policy of
    each country, to understand the historical and social issues and events that shaped
    its current international profile. The analysis is developed through the historical, the
    geopolitical and international relations perspectives, giving the participants a broad
    comprehension of how the Foreign Policy is highly articulated to the national interests
    of each State.
    Students will review the current relations among the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Latin
    America, through a review of the events that have made the headlines during the last
    months. Specific attention will be paid to the case of Colombia and the key issues of
    this country’s bilateral agendas with the North American countries.
    Objectives
    • To clearly identify the American, Canadian and Mexican political systems, the
    concept of federalism and its consequences for the government operation and
    power distribution.
    • To compare the Canadian Parliamentary system of government to the
    American Presidential system of government.
    • To describe the main political institutions of each country in terms of their
    scope of action, role and influences in the economical sphere.
    • To make an analytical review of each country´s historical position in terms of
    foreign policy.
    • To contextualize U.S., Canada and Mexico geopolitical scope and its
    implication in the relation with Latin America from the perspective of current
    events.
    • To understand the foreign policy of each of the North American countries and
    the context of their bilateral relation with Colombia, in order to underline the
    main factors that shape these agendas.
    Fifth class – 14 August
    • Federalism and the separation of powers.
    • Organization and Government structure.
    • Main political parties and how they work.
    Activities:
    • Lecturer’s speech.
    • Students’ presentation
    Readings:
    • Dunne, M. (2013). US Presidential Elections: Two Centuries of Constitutional
    Continuity and Political Change. The Political Quarterly , 265-277
    • Forsey, A. (2010) How Canadians Govern Themselves, 7thEd, Parliament of
    Canada. P.1-52.
    Sixth class – 21 August
    • Historical evolution of the foreign policy and main principles. Cold war. WWII
    • Elements of U.S. power, bilateral relations and its current status in world
    affairs.
    • U.S. relationship with Latin America.
    • Plan Colombia.
    Activities:
    • Lecturer’s speech.
    • Students’ presentation
    Reading:
    • Lowenthal, A. (2010) Obama and the Americas: Promise, Dissapointment,
    Opportunity. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 79, No. 4 (July/August), pp. 110-124.
    • Crothers, L. (2011). The Cultural Roots of Isolationism and Internationalism in
    American Foreign Policy. Journal of Trasatlantic Studies , 21-34.
    Seventh class – 28 August
    • Canada’s current role in the international system.
    • Canada and its relationship with Latin America.
    • Mexico and its current role in the world.
    Activities:
    • Lecturer’s speech.
    • Students’ presentation
    Readings:
    • Tijerina, S. (2012). One Cinderblock at a Time: Historiography of CanadianLatin
    American and Canadian-Colombian Relations. Desafios , 273-290.
    • Thérien, J. P. (2013). Identity and Foreign Policy: Canada as a Nation of the
    Americas. Latin American Politics & Society , 150-168.
    Eighth class – 4 September
    • September 11th and the new world order.
    • The United States and the war against terrorism.
    • Canada and 9/11.
    Activities:
    • Lecturer’s speech.
    • Students’ presentation
    Readings:
    • Drache, D. Canada- U.S. Relations and the impermeable Border Post 9/11:
    The Co-Management of North America. 2008 CONfines de Relaciones
    Internacionales y Ciencia Política.
    • Huntington, S. (1993). The Clash of Civilizations? in Foreign Affairs (Jul-Aug.)
    p. 22-49.
    Ninth class – 11 September
    MIDTERM EXAM (20%)
    Tenth class – 18 September
    Paper presentations, Round Table, Round 1.
    Unit 4 – Economic Variables and Development
    This unit introduces U.S., Mexico and Canada’s main economic advantages and
    trade opportunities through the study of the different economic activities and
    potentialities, helping the participants to discover the economic opportunities raised
    by the bilateral trade with Colombia.
    The matters related to these countries’ economic configuration, international trade
    policies and commercial agreements are also discussed in this part of the course, as
    well as how they have been partnering up with their most strategic commercial and
    political allies in the World.
    Objectives:
    • To identify the main priorities in terms of domestic and international trade.
    • To study the free trade agreements with Colombia, their contents,
    controversies and scope of negotiation.
    • To identify each market’s characteristics, considering different profiles and
    trade opportunities.
    • To recognize the most important commercial allies for the U.S., Canada and
    Mexico through the examination of their foreign trade balance: Main products
    and destinations and origins, as well the trade agreements already operating.
    • To determine each country’s current economic development status and the
    main variables affecting it.
    Eleventh class – 25 September
    • Migration to the US.
    Activities:
    • Lecturer’s speech
    Readings:
    • Martin, P. (2013). Migration and US Economic Competitiveness. Migration
    Letters , 125-143.
    Activities:
    • Lecturer’s speech.
    • Students’ presentation.
    Twelfth class – 9 October
    • U.S. and Canada’s economic development.
    • Main industries.
    • Human development.
    • Financial crisis
    Activities:
    • Lecturer’s speech.
    • Students’ presentation.
    Readings:
    • McGahey, R. (2013). The Political Economy of Austerity in the United States.
    Social Research , 717-748.
    • Michael Hart (2002). Canada in a Globally Integrated Economy. In: A Trading
    Nation. p. 425-442.
    Thirteenth class – 16 October
    • The North - American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA.
    • Mexico and its role in NAFTA.
    • Colombia and its free trade agreements with North America.
    • North America in the WTO
    Activities:
    • Lecturer’s speech.
    • Students’ presentation.
    Readings:
    • Anderson, G. (2012). NAFTA on the Brain: Why Creeping Integration Has
    Always Worked Better. American Review of Canadian Studies , 450-459.
    Fourteenth class – 23 October
    Consultancy Simulation 1
    Fifteenth class – 30 October
    Consultancy Simulation 2
    Unit 5 – Socio-cultural organization
    This final part is motivated by the idea of understanding the Canadian Mosaic, the
    U.S. Melting Pot and Mexican culture. It will be developed through the analysis of
    some of the main theories discussing the paradigm of cultural diversity as well as the
    impact that they have on political actions. The aim is to visualize the implications and
    opportunities that cultural diversity raises in the context of each of the mentioned
    countries.
    Objectives
    • To understand the Canadian cultural mosaic and to study the context and
    contents of the Governmental acts and Laws behind the Canadian
    Multiculturalism
    • To discover the main characteristics and particularities of the Canadian
    multicultural society through the comparative analysis of the Canadian
    Cultural Mosaic and the American Melting Pot.
    • To understand the role played by U.S. society in world / global social
    movements.
    • To understand cultural influences in U.S. social history.
    Sixteenth class – 6 November
    • The concept of Americanism and American culture.
    • Racism, Health care and pensions
    • Future perspectives about the United States.
    • An overview of Mexican culture (Hofstede)

    • Social and cultural trends of Canada.
    • The concept of multiculturalism.
    • The influence of migration.
    Activities:
    • Lecturer’s speech.
    • Students’ presentation.
    • Course wrap-up and conclusions.
    Readings:
    • Winter, E. (2014). Us, Them and Others: Reflections on Canadian
    Multiculturalism and National Identity at the Turn of the 21st Century.
    Canadian Review of Sociology , 128-151.
    • Marger, M. (2013). Religiosity in Canada and the United States: Diverging
    Paths. American Review of Canadian Studies , 70-85.
    • Katzenstein, P., & Keohane, R. (2006). Anti-Americanism. Policy Review , 25-
    37.
    • Vassell, O., & Burrough, T. S. (2014). No Other But A Negro Can Represent
    the Negro: How Black Newspapers Founded Black America and Black Britain.
    The Journal of Pan African Studies , 256-267.
    IV. EVALUATION
    - Attendance to all lectures is required since on every session there will be
    assessment activities.
    - All students should read and bring the assigned readings to all the lectures in
    order to have the support for the discussions. All mandatory readings are
    available on Eafit Interactiva.
    - This course is developed in a guided / seminar methodology, therefore the load
    of work assigned to the students is higher than in the magistral class
    methodology. The evaluation process is also more intense, and class
    participation is a must.
    The evaluation for this course will be based in the following activities:
    Debates
    According to the number of people registered for the course, students will (individually
    / by groups) engage into (one / several) debates with one or more of his/her
    classmates. The debate is going to be done according to one statement, one student
    will be in favor, and the other will be against (random selection). Each person will have
    5 minutes to present its opening position, and then the students can start making
    questions and formulating arguments among themselves. After 2-3 interventions of
    each student, the teacher will discuss with the class towards the issue and at the end
    the group will vote to decide which position best describes the initial statement. Each
    person should submit the day of the debate a 1000 words paper with the position
    regarding the statement, the paper should be sent only to the lecturer via Eafit
    Interactiva before the class starts, this paper may include references. The total grade
    will be based on the position paper and the debate itself.
    Presentations
    According to the number of people registered for the course, students will do
    Evaluation
    Paper    proposal    (W3):    5%
    Topic    presentation:    10%
    Midterm    exam    (W9):    20%
    Paper    presentation    -    Round    1    (W10):    10%
    Debate:    10%
    Consultancy    Simulation    (W14-15):    20%
    Final:
    Paper    presentation    -    Round    2    (W18):    5%
    Paper    submission    (W18):    20%