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International Relations 

(For 2016–2017 academic year)

Director Chernoff 
Advisory Committee Chernoff (Director), Fogarty, Mandle, Rotter, Turner, Wagner

For those interested in world affairs, Colgate offers a major program in international relations (IR). Students may also take IR as a minor. Study in the program begins with POSC 232, which is normally taken in the sophomore year.

Major Program  

Nine courses are required for a major, including a research seminar at the 400 level. For all nine courses counted toward the major, a grade of at least C must be achieved. There is a language requirement, see below. 

Students are strongly encouraged to take all six core courses listed below by the end of the junior year. The seminar must be taken by the first term of the senior year, unless special permission of the IR director is granted in advance. Both majors and minors must take the six core courses. All of these courses must be taken at Colgate.

For students seeking a major in international relations and a minor in political science, no courses may be counted toward both.

  1. POSC 232, Fundamentals of International Relations (a prerequisite for upper-level courses for IR majors)
  2. Core subfields requirement: at least two of the following POSC courses:POSC 349, International Political Economy
    POSC 353, National Security
    POSC 357, International Institutions
    POSC 366, Contemporary American Foreign Policy
    POSC 374, International Law
  3. Economics requirement: the following two courses: ECON 151, Introduction to Economics
    ECON 249, International Economics (Students who have completed the relevant prerequisites may take
    ECON 349 in place of ECON 249.)
  4. History requirement: one of the following courses:HIST 215, American Foreign Relations, 1776–1917
    HIST 216, U.S. Foreign Policy, 1917–present
    HIST 232, The Crusades
    HIST 255, The Ottoman Empire, 1300–1924
    HIST 259, Introduction to the Modern Middle East
    HIST 265, War and Violence in East Asia
    HIST 272, War and Holocaust in Europe
    HIST 316, The United States in Vietnam, 1945–1975
    HIST 335, Spain and Portugal in the Age of Empires
    HIST 346, Germany and Eastern Europe, 1848–1989
    HIST 350, Post-war Europe, 1945 to the Present
    HIST 353, History of the Modern Balkans
    HIST 359, Nationalism and Arab Identity in the 20th Century
    HIST 370, The Mongol Empire
    HIST 382, Modern Africa
    HIST 479, Seminar on Problems in the History of U.S. Foreign Policy
    HIST 482, Seminar on Problems in British History since 1800
    HIST 489, Seminar on Problems in Military History
  5. One IR seminar (normally in POSC, HIST 479, or HIST 489). Other seminars in the Division of Social Sciences may count with permission of the program director.
    HIST 479, Seminar on Problems in the History of U.S. Foreign Policy
    HIST 489, Seminar on Problems in Military History
  6. Elective Courses
    The courses that may be used to fulfill the remaining two electives include the following, plus the courses listed under items 2 and 5 of the major program, above.
    ECON 238, Economic Development
    ECON 251, Intermediate Microeconomics
    ECON 252, Intermediate Macroeconomics
    ECON 351, Topics in International Economic Theory
    ECON 438, Seminar in Economic Development
    ECON 450, Seminar in International Economics
    GEOG/PCON 310, Geopolitics
    GEOG/SOCI 314, Population Issues and Analysis
    POSC 214, Comparative Politics: East and Southeast Asia
    POSC/MIST 215, Comparative Politics: Middle East
    POSC 216, Comparative Politics: Latin America
    POSC/MIST 304, Islam and Politics
    POSC 305, China’s Foreign Relations
    POSC 307, The Foreign Policy of the People’s Republic of China
    POSC 317, Identity Politics
    POSC 320, States, Markets, and Global Change
    POSC 330, Post-Mao China and the World
    POSC 331, Politics in Sub-Saharan Africa
    POSC 348, The Rise and Fall of Communism
    POSC 350, Africa in World Politics
    POSC 354, Capitalism, the State, and Development in Latin America
    POSC 358, Transnational Politics
    POSC/REST 359, Power in Russia from Gorbachev to Putin
    POSC 360, Domestic Sources of American Foreign Policy
    POSC 361, Humanitarian Interventions
    POSC/MIST 363, International Relations of the Middle East
    POSC 364, Politics of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan
    POSC 365, Just War in Comparative Perspective
    POSC 367, The European Union
    POSC 368, American Foreign Relations with China
    POSC 390, Silent Warfare: Intelligence Analysis and Statecraft
    POSC 430, Seminar: Problems and Issues in Post-Mao China
    POSC 433, Seminar: Topics in Globalization
    POSC 434, Seminar: Global Desi: Beyond IT Guys, Doctors, and Beauty Queens
    POSC 436, Seminar: Continuity and Change in International Politics
    POSC 437, Seminar: Democratization and Prospects for Peace and Prosperity
    POSC 451, Seminar: Africa in World Politics
    POSC 454, Seminar: The Cold War and After
    POSC 455, Seminar: American Foreign Policy
    POSC 456, Seminar: War — Theories and Practices
Additional courses may be added as they become available in the future. Note that POSC 451 counts as an elective, but does not satisfy the IR seminar requirement.

All IR majors are required to take POSC 232, Fundamentals of International Relations. POSC 152, Global Peace and War does not ordinarily count toward the IR major. Students who take POSC 152 before deciding on an IR major must also take POSC 232, but may count POSC 152 as one of the two IR electives with written permission from the IR program director.

Students who have AP credit for ECON 151 must take one additional elective course. Students may not count their IR senior seminar toward any other major or minor requirement.

Language Requirement   

For both majors and minors, reading proficiency in a Western European language equal to that attained by completion of two 300-level courses with a grade of at least C. 

Alternatively, for students interested in a non-Western European language, such as Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Russian, etc., the requirement can be satisfied by completion of four Colgate University courses, or their equivalents, in an approved language with a grade of at least C. To receive credit for courses taken off campus, arrangements must be made in advance with the director of the IR program.

Minor Program  

Minors must fulfill the same requirements as those majoring in IR except for completion of the additional history course and the two other elective courses. The minor requires that students take the six core ECON and POSC courses (items 1, 2, 3, and 5 of the major program, above), including a seminar, and complete the language requirement (see above). A grade of at least C must be achieved in the six courses counted toward the minor. A student may not count toward an IR minor any courses being counted toward a major in political science. 


A candidate for honors in IR must choose an adviser for an honors paper and fulfill the honors requirements for the department of the faculty adviser. In addition, the honors student must (1) achieve a minimum GPA of 3.50 in the nine IR courses, (2) attain a minimum overall GPA of 3.25, (3) submit a substantial research paper that is judged superior (A– or higher) by two program faculty members. 

A student whose adviser is a member of the Department of Political Science must enroll in the year-long honors colloquium (POSC 498 and POSC 499) in which each student writes an honors thesis. POSC 498 will be taken in the fall semester, followed by POSC 499 in the spring semester. A grade will be given in both POSC 498 and 499. During the fall semester, students work primarily with their primary adviser. Seniors who anticipate graduating with a GPA eligible for honors should speak with their advisers or the IR director in the semester prior to doing honors. POSC 498 and POSC 499 are to be taken in addition to the nine courses counted toward the IR major.

A candidate for high honors in IR must fulfill the following additional requirements: (1) achieve a minimum GPA of 3.75 in IR courses, (2) attain an overall GPA of at least 3.40, (3) gain approval of the paper as superior by a third reader, and (4) pass with distinction an oral examination by the three readers of the submitted paper. As above, the professor supervising the research must give prior approval of the paper.

Study Groups   

Participation in a study group is encouraged but not required. The IR program co-sponsors a study group in Geneva every year or every other year. Typically two non-seminar courses may be counted as IR major electives. In some years a third course may be offered that counts as fulfilling the history requirement. Students who participate in other study groups and who wish to be certain of receiving credit toward the major or the minor must receive prior approval from the IR director. Typically no more than one credit is granted toward the major or minor for work completed on non-IR Colgate study groups. Credit is given only for courses that meet Colgate standards.