Introduction to International Studies Syllabus

One of our goals for this website is make as many resources as possible available for faculty teaching an “Introduction to Global Studies” or “Introduction to International Studies” course. Here is the syllabus for the course that I taught this spring. If you click on the teaching tag on the word cloud to the right, you’ll also find earlier posts that related to the class, such as the rubric I used, the chocolate tasting assignment (very popular as you might expect), a map on security, and the first day quiz. I’ve also posted on free video resources for the class, and useful websites.

A few comments on the syllabus. You’ll notice that I have students using Dropbox, the learning management system at my university, to submit assignments, which has many benefits. I know when students have submitted an assignment, it facilitates concise feedback, it lets students access grades on-line, and the system can calculate the final grade. I’m not familiar with other course management systems, but I assume that they all share the same basic functionality. I am a new adopter for Dropbox, and really like being able to share information with my students through the news section, when I need to let them know about something related to the course. In addition, my international students like that I post my key terms and a lecture outline before every class.

I’ve always used a map quiz, because I believe it’s critical for students to have a sense of geography to understand global issues. I have had a couple of students comment that they believe that this kind of test belongs in high school (although this was years ago). But I point out to them that if you cannot find Afghanistan on a map, you will have a hard time understanding current events. I also tell students that this is their chance to start the course with a perfect grade, and everyone who works hard on this project will do well. I think that most students like it.

You’ll also notice that I qualify the class schedule.  I know that my language in the syllabus sometimes gets a laugh from my colleagues: “Note: True academic inquiry must proceed at its own pace, so there may be changes to this schedule, to include new items based on world events, introduce a guest speaker, or respond to student interests.” But it’s true, and I always want to have the freedom to make changes.

One last thought: when we wrote the textbook some of the external reviewers -who otherwise loved the book- said that they thought chapter twelve “What to do with a career in Global/International Studies” was too vocational and didn’t belong in the text. I mentioned that at the start of the last class last June, and it drew a large laugh. There was no question that this was the most popular class in the course. Many students came to talk to me after the class to express their gratitude for including this topic, and a couple of students even e-mailed me afterwards to thank me for this.

Would look like to see a post about mistakes that you can make teaching this course? Click here. A list of learning outcomes for International Studies Majors at Portland State? Click here. A discussion about what is International Studies? Click here. A syllabus for a hybrid Global Studies theory course? Click here.

Shawn Smallman

Introduction to International Studies (INTL 201)

Spring 2012

Tuesday, Thursday: 10:00-11:50am

UTS 209

Professor Smallman                                                              Teaching Assistant:

Rm. 310, East Hall                                                                 Office: 330 East Hall

Phone:                                                                                      Office Hours: TBA

Office Hours: Wednesday: 9:30-11:30

and by appointment.

Description: This course is designed to introduce students to the interdisciplinary character of international studies, and to acquaint them with major trends and themes in global affairs today. Students will also acquire knowledge regarding the origins and development of the field, and study key international topics that affect all of our lives. There are four components that we will work on simultaneously:

  1. discipline-based concepts, analytical tools, research theories and ideologies
  2. region-based information, perspectives, issues, and theories
  3. economic, political, and cultural perspectives on globalization and development
  4. content topics revolving around food, energy, health, security, and the environment.

Required course textbook: Shawn Smallman and Kimberley Brown, Introduction to International and Global Studies (University of North Carolina Press, 2011). Available at the campus bookstore.

Basis for Grade:

Map Quiz: 10%: Tuesday, April 17th

Students must learn the location of the 60 countries listed on the final page of this syllabus. During the in-class quiz, students will receive a blank map of the world, along with a list of ten countries from this list, which they will have to locate on the map.

Midterm Exam: 25%: Thursday, May 3rd.

Students will write a mid-term exam in class. The exam consists of two short definition questions, and one essay question. A study guide with a list of possible terms and essay questions will be posted on D2L one week before the exam.  Please bring a green (or blue) book to the exam.

Topic Paper: 20%: Thursday, May 24th, by class time in the D2L drop box.

Students will write a topic paper of three to four pages in length, which will examine a current international event in relation to the major themes discussed in the class to that point.

Attendance and Class Participation: 20%

Attendance is required. Three unexcused absences lowers your grade by ½ grade. Four or more unexcused absences lowers your grade a FULL grade.  Please contact me or our TA AHEAD OF CLASS if you will be absent. Your grade will also be based on demonstrating your engagement in small class work, but NOT large group discussions.

Response Paper: 25%: 5pm on Monday, June 11th in the D2L drop box.

A question for the response paper will handed out at the beginning of week ten, and will be due in Dropbox on Monday, June 11th. There is no final exam in this class. The response paper will ask students a question that will ask them to draw on both the reading and the class material. Students will not need to do any additional research or reading for this paper.

Basic grade cutoffs:    A: 90%; B: 80%; C: 70%; D: 60%

Late policy: late assignments will be penalized (except in case of verifiable illness or family emergency) three percent a day after the due date, up to thirty percent of the final grade for that assignment. The topic paper is due on May 24th by class time in the drop box for D2L.


Plagiarism is the submission of another’s work as your own.  It is also a serious academic crime.  Any instance of plagiarism will result in an automatic “O” for that assignment. All students are responsible for reading, understanding, and complying with the PSU Student Code of Conduct (

Disability: If you are a student with a documented disability and registered with the Disability Resource Center (725.XXXX or TDD XXXXX), please contact me immediately to facilitate arranging academic accommodations.

Technology: This is a D2L-infused course; course resources will be posted on-line.  Please make sure you have a PSU ODIN account.  Check in with the Graduate Assistant if you do not yet have one.  You will need to use this account for this class. Figure out how to have PSU information forwarded to your other email accounts if you do not regularly access the PSU account. Please do not use the email function WITHIN D2L to contact us.  Use the regular PSU email.

Tentative Calendar

Note: True academic inquiry must proceed at its own pace, so there may be changes to this schedule, to include new items based on world events, include a guest speaker, or respond to student interests.

Week 1, April 3rd and 5th—Introduction and History

Tuesday: course outline; group quiz; What is international studies?

Thursday: Lecture: Colonialism in History; discuss chapters 1 and 2 (Introduction and History).

Reading: Students should read chapters one (introduction) and two (history) by the Thursday class.

Note: April 6th is the last day to submit an application for an undergraduate degree or certificate.

Week 2, April 10th and 12th—Security

Tuesday: Lecture: The Drug War; Human Security and Cities.

Thursday: India, Pakistan and Kashmir; Discuss chapter three.

Reading: Chapter Three, Security.

Week 3, April 17th and 19th—Economic Globalization

Tuesday: Map Quiz. Lecture: The History and Institutions of Modern Globalization.

Thursday: Discuss chapter four; online video related to the global financial crisis.

Reading: Chapter Four, Economic Globalization.

Week 4, April 24th and 26th—Cultural and Political Globalization

Tuesday: Guest Lecture; New Languages: the Case of Sheng; YouTube videos on Google Earth collaboration with the Surui people in the Amazon (;

Thursday: Discuss chapters five and six; Lecture: “Human Rights and Cultural Relativism”. Reading: Chapters Five and Six, Political and Cultural Globalization

Week 5, May 1st and 3rd—Development

Tuesday: Theories of Development; video: TED: “Hans Rosling’s new insights on poverty”; also TED: “Asia’s Rise: how and when?”; discuss chapter 7

Thursday: In-class Midterm Exam

Reading: Chapter Seven, Development

Week 6, May 8th and 10th—Food

Tuesday: The Columbian Exchange.

Thursday: Discuss chapter eight; lecture: “Bioterrorism and Chocolate.” Chocolate tasting.

Reading: Chapter Eight: Food.

Week 7, May 15th and 17th—Health

Tuesday: Lectures: Global AIDS Pandemic; Ted video: “Hans Rosling on HIV.”

Thursday: Lecture: Influenza; discuss chapter nine.

Reading: Chapter Nine, Health

Week 8, May 22nd and 24th —Energy

Tuesday: Lecture: After Hubble’s Peak: Canada’s Oil Sands and Pipelines.

Thursday: Discuss chapter ten; video: TED, “Bjorn Lomborg Sets Global Priorities” and “TED: Bill Gates on energy: Innovating to Zero.” Discussion of videos. Topic Paper due; discussion of topics issues.

Reading: Chapter Ten: Energy

Week 9, May 29th and 31—Environment

Tuesday: Guest Lecture: Dr. Stephen Frenkel: “Ecotourism”

Thursday: The Sixth Extinction; discuss chapter eleven; video on the environment and global warming.

Reading: Chapter Eleven, the Environment.

Week 10, June 5th and 7th—Careers and International Travel

Tuesday: Practical travel advice. How to prepare for international careers; Job application and interview exercise.

Thursday: Conclusion. Discuss chapters twelve and thirteen.

Reading: Chapters Twelve (Where to go Next) and Thirteen (Conclusion).


Learning Outcomes for International Studies Majors

Majors will acquire knowledge of techniques and materials that enhance development of intercultural competence and enhance ability to tolerate cultural ambiguity.

Majors will acquire knowledge of the origins and development of international relations and the role of international organizations in the conduct of international relations.

Majors will acquire a critical understanding of the historical origins of the nation-state and its role in international studies.

Majors will acquire a critical understanding of the concepts ofcolonialism, post-colonialism, nationalism, and other major ideologies and structures that shape international relationships.

Majors will apply knowledge of diverse cultural frames of reference, and alternate perspectives of race, gender, sexuality, class and ethnicity, to think critically and solve problems related to the development and conduct of international relations.

Majors will apply knowledge to evaluate U.S. foreign policy within the context of international relations.

Majors will acquire a solid understanding of the cultures, societies, histories and traditions within one major world region.

Majors will attain third-year level proficiency in a second language related to their region of focus and apply language skills and knowledge of another culture to extend access to information, experiences, and inter-cultural understanding.

Majors will understand their own culture in a global and comparative context and appreciate cultural differences.

Majors will develop an inter-disciplinary/comparative framework of critical inquiry regarding global issues through participation in a range of adviser-approved courses across PSU programs and unit.

Map Quiz:

Students will be given a list of twenty of these countries, and they will have to place the corresponding number for each country on a blank world map.


Asia                  Latin America      Africa:

Taiwan              Brazil                        Democratic Republic of the Congo

North Korea     Chile                      South Africa

South Korea     Argentina                 Algeria

Vietnam           Colombia                 Libya

Philippines       Peru                          Egypt

Indonesia         Venezuela                 Sudan

Pakistan           Panama                      Ethiopia

Japan               Guatemala                 Somalia

Thailand          Nicaragua                   Angola

China               Cuba                          Botswana

India                Mexico                       Kenya

Kazakhstan      Bolivia                      Tanzania

Cambodia        Nigeria                      South Sudan


Middle East    Europe                   Oceania

Iran                  Norway                      Australia

Iraq                  Sweden                      New Zealand

Afghanistan      France

Saudi Arabia     Germany

Turkey              Ireland

Syria                   Portugal

Yemen               Spain

Oman                Russia

UAE                  Belarus



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