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International Affairs

Learning Outcomes

Learning Objectives and Outcomes

Within the International Affairs Department, faculty members have as a common goal to improve the analytical thinking of our students so that they may independently reach conclusions about international relations dilemmas.  The department celebrates a diversity of teaching styles and approaches to learning in its courses, which emphasize learning outcomes incorporating the following skills:

1) Learning and understanding core controversies, including the logic behind global challenges;

2) Critiquing, analyzing, and synthesizing dominant views, including careful reading of key texts;

3) Applying conceptual tools to global predicaments, realizing how policies must shift over time;

4) Working collaboratively and constructively together to comprehend problems;

5) Writing and speaking persuasively regarding personal opinions on topics covered; and

6) Conducting original research and formulating creative ideas on important international topics.

All students are required to demonstrate their proficiency in having mastered the requisite skills through writing a senior thesis.  The senior thesis has the following requirements:

  • First, the thesis will provide an explanation for a theoretically-derived research puzzle, or an explanation for an empirical issue in world politics that is relevant (has real-world consequences) or puzzling (its appearance or resolution was unexpected given other longstanding patterns).
  • Second, the thesis will demonstrate a strong understanding of the international relations literature relevant to your particular research question, and that literature will inform and guide the explanation advanced.
  • Third, the explanation provided will reflect a clear understanding of the phenomena under investigation and the explanation advanced will cogently delineate the logic of the causal argument advanced.
  • Fourth, the data selected and the way in which the test is designed will demonstrate a strong grasp of the appropriate methodology given the research question and the relevant literature.
  • Fifth, the data presented will validate the argument advanced and persuade the reader that the most plausible answer to the research question has been identified and that other explanations are not applicable.
  • Sixth, the thesis will recognize any significant conceptual, methodological, and empirical limitations.
  • Seventh, the thesis will offer findings of value to those interested in the relevant theoretical literature or issue area. For example, the thesis will seek to draw some implications for understanding the larger class of behavior it investigates, including but not limited to a well developed discussion of the explanation’s external validity.
  • Eighth, the thesis will demonstrate independent thinking and expand the reader’s understanding of the subject covered.