cod. 1005945

Academic year 2018/19
2° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Storia delle dottrine politiche (SPS/02)
Discipline politiche, economiche e statistiche
Type of training activity
30 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

The course’s main aim is twofold: on the one hand, students will be provided with a basic knowledge on the dynamics that shape international politics (from past to more recent and current developments); on the other hand, it is expected that students will acquire both the basic analytical tools and the ability to critically understand those dynamics through the lenses of great International Relations (IR) paradigms.

Knowledge and understanding

The course will provide students with a deep knowledge of authors, works and topics that have characterized the discipline’s main debates, putting them in historical perspective. At the end of the course, students will acquire the ability to critically understand IR main approaches and to interpret major events and dynamics of current international politics.

Applying knowledge and understanding.

The course will take in consideration main IR theoretical approaches and, for each of them, a case study taken from recent history will be analyzed. Also recent international politics dynamics and possible future scenarios will be considered, with a specific focus on current international events and phenomena. At the end of the course, students should acquire the ability to analyze current international politics main issues and to critically understand the debate on the causes of war, peace, cooperation and conflict. The analysis of IR great traditions will help students to develop their own critical understanding of the events and dynamics that have shaped international politics over the last few decades, providing them with the capacity to interpret and evaluate future political scenarios. 

Making judgments

On the basis of historical and theoretical analytical tools, and through the reference to the thought of authors that have contributed to shape IR main theoretical debates, at the end of the course students will gain the ability to critically interpret international politics major dynamics. They should also be able to present their own point of view on the current political debate in a clear and proper manner, also taking in consideration other existing analytical perspectives


The study of International Politics represents a discipline that is even more relevant today. As for other social sciences, International Relations is characterized by its own jargon and its own way to present concepts and theoretical paradigms. At the end of the course, students should be able to clearly express and debate IR issues, also with the reference to the main theoretical views and approaches that characterize the discipline.



Course unit content

Today the celebratory rhetoric of the post-sovereign world paves the way to the geopolitics of chaos. The course aims, therefore, to tackle, from a theoretical and political point of view, this "chaos-world", which simultaneously witnesses the fragmentation of the nation-state and the uprising of unprecedented forms of sovereignisms, as well as new types of wars and crisis.
The course will deal with the genesis and transformation of the modern state, starting from the analysis developed by Carl Schmitt on sovereignty, on the Westphalian model and on international law ("Global linear thinking"). The modern system of States relations and the nation-building process (constructivist and ethno-symbolic hypothesis) will be analyzed. The great theoretical doctrines of International Relations will also be taken into consideration (realism, liberalism, neo-Marxism, cosmopolitanism, communitarianism and critical theory), with a specific focus on the World-Systems analysis, on the theory of hegemonic cycles (Arrighi, Wallerstein), the rise and decline of the jus publicum europaeum and the decolonization in the 20th century.
Starting from the analysis of the classics of the political thought (Machiavelli, Hobbes, Kant, Marx, Gramsci), the main approaches to international politics will be discussed, paying attention to the basic notions (such as anarchy, balance of power, hegemony), and debates (clash of civilizations, globalization / de-globalization, human rights, "just war") that have characterized the discipline in the last thirty years.
The last part of the course will be dedicated to the European construction, comparing the classic Westphalian state model with that of the multilevel and ordoliberal governance of the European Union, considering the external action of the EU and analyzing the role of Europe as a “great space” in the world.

Full programme

10 weeks - 30 hours: 20 hours frontal lectures; 10 hours debate

WEEK 1 - Introduction to the course and key-concepts
- Understanding the world in which we live: the object of International Relations analysis. The political dimension, between conflict and cooperation.
- How, when and where does the concept of sovereignty come about? What are the characteristics of the modern state?
- The internal dimension (State, power territory) and external (war, diplomacy, foreign policy) of the political order.

WEEK 2 - Introduction to Carl Schmitt: Global linear thinking
- International law and politics: the origins and the structure of the modern Westphalian system of states .
- Sovereignty as "state of exception".
- The nomos of the earth and the global lines.

WEEK 3 - The origins of the Jus Publicum Europaeum (1648) and the theory of state in the realist tradition
- Realism in international relations (Thucydides, Machiavelli, Hobbes).
- Reason of State and national interest.
- Modern and heterodox realism.
- Geopolitics.
- The hegemonic cycles.

Requested readings:
Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth pp. to be defined
I. Wallerstein, Understanding the world Chap. 3

WEEK 4 - The limitation of sovereignty: constitutionalism, federalism and cosmopolitanism

- Constituent power and constituted power. The concepts of "people" and "nation".
- The different traditions of liberal constitutionalism in Europe and the United States.
- Immanuel Kant and the conditions for legal-moral pacifism.
- Contemporary interpretations of the Kantian paradigm (liberal internationalism, collective security, integration).
- Federation, confederation and international organizations.

Reading request:
I. Kant, Towards Perpetual Peace (1795)

WEEK 5 - Internationalism and the world-systems analysis, center / periphery and the dissolution of the jus publicum europeum (1890-1918).

- The Monroe Doctrine and the Western Hemisphere.
- The collapse of Eurocentrism. Revolutions and world wars. Leninism and Wilsonism.
- Concepts of Empire and great spaces and the theory of imperialism.
- Critical theory in the RI, Gramsci and the neo-Gramscian

WEEK 6 - Cosmopolitanism and communitarianism
- Community or cosmopolis.
- Are Human Rights universal?
- Just war, humanitarian intervention and "Responsibility to protect"
- Geopolitics and Eurasianist paradigm
- The critiques of globalization

Reading request:
Danilo Zolo, War, Law and Peace in Hans Kelsen, Political Philosophy, 12 (1998), 2.

WEEK 7 - Ordoliberalism and European construction.
- The birth of the first European communities and the theories of integration: intergovernmentalism, federalism and functionalism.
- The concept of shared sovereignty and the transformation of modern statehood
- The critique of the laissez-faire doctrine (1938 Colloque Lippmann).
- The new role of the State for ordoliberalism and criticism of Keynesian policies.
- The federalism of von Hayek and the concept of open and free market society. The federalism by Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi.
- The European single market based on competition.

A. Spinelli, E. Rossi, The Ventotene Manifesto. For a free and united Europe. (1941)

WEEK 8 - The European Union as a multilevel system of governance and the new forms of regional cooperation.
- The concept of multilevel system of governance and the transformation of the state (post-sovereign models).
- Regional cooperation in the world (ASEAN, Mercosur, BRICS, etc.).
- The European Union in the post-Cold War: enlargement, "constitutionalization" and monetary union.
- NATO globalization.
- Post-Maastricht Europe: the euro as an external constraint and economic constitution of the Union.

WEEK 9 - Global dis (order) in the era of the crisis of globalist narrative
- From the end of history to the clash of civilizations (Fukuyama and Huntington)
- Is transnational democracy possible? Government or global governance?
- Post-neoliberal Europe and differentiated integration
- External action of the EU

Readings (to be defined)

WEEK 10 - The debate on the crisis and the future of Europe
- Juergen Habermas versus Wolfgang Streeck. Reshaping the European institutions?
- The new governance of the crisis and post-democratic Europe
- Neoliberal Europeanism or sovereignism. A third way?

WEEK 11 - The idea of nation as a a political construction. Between constructivist theory and the ethno-symbolic approach (Seminar)
- The nation as an imagined community (B. Anderson)
- The ethno-symbolic approach (A. D. Smith)

A. D. Smith, The Nation in History pp. To be defined

Final presentation of the workshops


Weekly readings and “memos”
Weekly readings are important for stimulating debate and problematizing concepts and topics developed during the lectures. Every Friday, a short "memo" written by the students (about 200 words) will be collected by mail by the teacher. The “memo” should take into account both what explained in class as well as the indicated reading. The memos should develop a brief personal reflection on what has been found most puzzling and interesting during the lessons and readings, trying to use critical thinking and finding relationships with different authors, thinkers, philosophers, etc. Topics must be eventually related to political current events, or with scientific debates on the subject.
These memos will constitute a substantial basis for the discussion, as well as an assessment to be added to the final mark after the workshop. Memos can also be sent and shared with colleagues, if desired, but no later than Friday of each week. Delayed notes will not be accepted. If you miss a lesson for some reason, you can prepare the memo for the next lesson.

Institutional part:
One book to be chosen:

H. Kissinger, Ordine mondiale, Mondadori, Milano 2015.
or (English version available)
A. Colombo, La disunità del mondo. Dopo il secolo globale, Feltrinelli, Milano 2010.

A book chosen amongi:

G. Galli, M. Caligiuri, Come si comanda il mondo. Teorie, volti, intrecci, Rubettino, Soveria Mannelli 2017.
F. Mini, Che guerra sarà, Il Mulino, Bologna 2017.
S. Romano, Atlante delle crisi mondiali, Rizzoli, Milano 2018.
S. Santangelo, Babel. Dai dazi di Trump alla Guerra di Siria: ascesa e declino di un mondo globale, Castelvecchi, Roma 2018.
A. D. Smith, La nazione. Storia di un’idea, Rubettino, Soveria Mannelli 2018.
A. Somma, Europa a due velocità. Post-politica dell’Unione europea, Imprimatur, Reggio Emilia 2017.

(A reading list in English could be also available)

The workshop replaces the monographic part. NB: for a list of the topics for the research we recommend the ISPI pubblications:

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons, during which students will be involved on international politics’ main debates. A workshop session is also scheduled at the end of the course

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam is oral.
Threshold attendance: 80%

For students (LM-PGSS)
- attending students: the exam is oral and focuses on the content of the lessons (notes and slides) and on the two exam texts. These students can use the bonus obtained during the lessons, with the memos and the final workshop. In this case the programme is reduced: only one book (institutional part) is required to study.
- not attending: the exam is oral and covers the two exam texts (see the list of possible texts in the Bibliography section).

The final assessment, calculated on a range of thirty, follows the ORAL Exam which consists in a minimum of three questions, with reference to the recommended texts and the indicated parts (institutional part and monographic part, the latter substitutable with the presentation of a paper presented to the class).
The three questions are aimed at assess the student's analytical skills with respect to the three thematic sections of the course (concept of state, origins and developments of the modern international system and governance of the European Union) with the use of the correct political language. The oral examination also foresees the presentation of a Paper of 5 pages on a topic chosen by the student (the list of topics will be presented during the course). The presentation of the paper aims to give an assessment regarding the analytical skills and the autonomy of reasoning by the student. The criteria for the composition of the paper will be illustrated during the course.

The final assessment, calculate on a range of thirty, follows the ORAL Exam which consists in a minimum of three questions, with reference to the recommended texts and the indicated parts. The three questions of the oral examination are aimed at assessing the analytical skills of the student with respect to the three thematic sections of the course (concept of state, origins and developments of the modern international system and governance of the European Union) with the use of the correct political language.

Other information

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