Why do international organizations exist? What role do they play in solving global problems? How is their role likely to change in the current global environment, and what consequences will follow? Traditional international relations theories characterize the international system as anarchic and focus on interactions between nation-states. Since WWII, international organizations have become more prominent players in the international system, though are currently under renewed criticism. Debate continues in academic and policy communities over why international organizations exist, whether they matter in global politics, and when they can help alleviate global problems.
The goal of this course is that students develop a theoretical as well as practical understanding of international organizations (IOs) and the global problems they attempt to address. Upon completion of the course, students should be able to articulate the leading explanations within political science for why IOs exist, controversies surrounding IOs in the context of international relations theory, why they are thought to help solve global problems, and the major challenges IOs face in meeting their objectives. Students should also be able to apply theoretical arguments from the IR literature to several specific cases.