Political phenomena in the international system

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.
The IRGA Practicum

IRGA students have the unique opportunity to undertake an internship experience in an agency or organization involved in international affairs. This real world experience deepens and enhances students understanding and appreciation for the complexity of international relations.

Study Opportunities at the United Nations in NYC and in Geneva, Switzerland

IRGA students are encouraged to participate in our courses on international organization, which includes 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.

Eckerd College is the only school in the country that offers this comprehensive study of international organization at these two central locations of international diplomacy. International Education also offers a variety of other Winter Term and full-semester study abroad opportunities.

Distinctive Features of the IRGA Major

The Interdisciplinary Curriculum of IRGA

Our students are trained not only in Political Science, but in History, Economics, Anthropology, Literature, and Languages as well. This thought-provoking interdisciplinary curriculum provides IRGA students with a solid liberal arts education. Key courses include: “Theories of War and Peace,” “Women and Politics World Wide,” “Ethics and International Relations,” and “International Political Economy.”

Regional Studies

IRGA students can focus on the regions and nations of the world of particular interest to them. Key regional courses include: “Latin American Politics,” “Japan, China and the US,” and “East European Politics.”

International Law

IRGA students have the opportunity to take a two course sequence on international law: “Human Rights and International Law” (Fall) and “International Environmental Law” (Spring). Eckerd College is one of the few liberal arts colleges in the country that offers this extensive training to undergraduates in the field of international law.

Courses Taught by Diplomats in Residence and More

IRGA students have the opportunity to take courses with Ambassadors and Diplomats. Pakistani Ambassador Jamsheed Marker, currently Under Secretary General of the United Nations, teaches “Diplomacy and International Relations” every semester. Donna Oglesby brings her decades of experience in the US foreign service to her courses, including “The Politics and Process of US Foreign Policy” and “The Media and Foreign Policy.”

Some popular courses include:

  • Intro to International Relations
    Using discussions, debates and simulations, you’ll learn about the international system including key actors, theories and concepts. Covers global issues such as war, wealth and poverty, hunger and environment, and global justice.
  • Humans Right and International Law
    Explores the full range of international human rights, including political, economic, social and cultural rights, and the role of the United Nations and other international organizations in implementing human rights standards.  Topics include women’s rights, protection of minorities, and rights to economic subsistence.
  • Middle East Politics
    Introduces students to Modern Middle East Politics by combining a cultural identity approach with more traditional international historical and political analyses to understand the political dynamic of the modern Middle East.

In addition, our faculty teach many more great courses focused on international institutions, law, and problem-solving, with attention to all regions of the world and the many political, cultural, and economic challenges facing the world today.

ASPEC IRGA Interest Group

IRGA students have the opportunity to be apart of a true intergenerational learning environment as a result of the active participation of the Academy of Senior Professionals (ASPEC) in our program. ASPEC members include experts from the US Trade Representatives Office, the State Department, the Food and Agriculture Organization and so on. These ASPEC members act as “discussant colleagues” in IRGA courses and present lectures and lead discussions in a variety of other campus settings.

Scholarship Opportunity

In addition to the generous Eckerd College scholarship programs, IRGA students have the opportunity to compete for the Maurice Williams Scholarship in International Relations. Every year a deserving IRGA student is awarded this scholarship in recognition of his/her academic achievement.

A Distinguished Speakers Series

With funding from Colonel Christian L. March, Eckerd College is able to bring distinguished speakers in international relations from around the world to our campus. The series has included leading academics, foreign policy experts, and ambassadors and diplomats from around the world.