Political phenomena in the international system

State and nonstate, international and transnational

International relations involves the study of the actors—state and nonstate, international and transnational—that make up the international system as well as the political, economic, and social relationships between those actors. International relations has developed as a subfield within political science because of its tendency to focus on political phenomena in the international system (e.g., power, order, stability, causes of conflict, methods of conflict resolution, negotiation, foreign policy, etc.). In fact, a generally accepted synonym for international relations is “world politics.” However, in today’s changing world, international relations involves much more than just the political relations between states.

Today, international relations is a field that draws heavily on economics and history as well as other social science fields. As international trade and finance have become more significant to global affairs, so too have the study of international economics and political economy become crucial to the field of international relations. As the problem of finding sustainable development models has emerged for the global community, so too have the study of economic development and environmental policy become relevant to international relations. And as the continuing problems of war and violence remain central to the question of global security, so too have history, anthropology, and sociology provided useful lessons for the study of the causes and cures of violent conflict in international relations. The international relations and global affairs major at Eckerd College is designed to provide students with an advanced understanding of the international political and economic factors, relationships, and issues shaping today’s global community. It is an interdisciplinary major, but its home discipline is political science. Students majoring in international relations and global affairs affiliate with the Collegium of Behavioral Sciences and will be associates of the political science faculty. Students in this major will take courses in political science, economics, history, anthropology, and modern languages, among other disciplines.

The international relations and global affairs major is designed with the following major objectives:

  • To help you become a full, knowledgeable, and useful global citizen.
  • To introduce you to the academic study of international relations and prepare you for future study in the field.
  • To offer you the opportunity to gain practical experience in international relations through study abroad opportunities and through the International Practicum, a required internship giving you real work or service experience relevant to international relations.
  • To prepare you for a career in numerous fields relating to international relations.

Study Opportunities at the United Nations

IRGA students are encouraged to participate in our courses on international organization, which may include trips to New York City and Geneva, Switzerland. These courses involve intensive interaction with the key international organizations working on issues of peace, sustainable development, terrorism and human rights. Global Education also offers a variety of other Winter Term and full-semester study abroad opportunities.