World Politics into the 21st Century: Unique Contexts, Enduring Patterns

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9780130325358: World Politics into the 21st Century: Unique Contexts, Enduring Patterns

Unique in its presentation, World Politics adopts a world politics perspective that integrates international and domestic policies throughout all the substantive topics addressed. The text combines contemporary and historical coverage with tools that encourage readers' understanding, independent thinking and active evaluation of real world problems. Four major issues —security and the uses of force; international economics; international environmental issues and human rights amid global diversity—receive equal, exhaustive coverage, while the authors focus on the politics of strategic choice in a way that stresses finding a common ground that respects different world views. This volume covers issues surrounding competing world views, politics of strategic choice, the nature of choice in world politics and fundamental issues in contemporary world politics, as well as, the evolution of world politics, and the world wars, looking for ways to build a global security system that works and the global European political economy. For individuals and professionals involved with or interested in international politics, world politics and international relations.

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About the Author:

Alan Lamborn is professor of political science at Colorado State University and, since 1999, also associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and at the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Before coming to Colorado State University, he taught at Smith College, where a nomination by his students led to his selection as a Danforth Associate by the Danforth Foundation. The Danforth Foundation describes the Associate Program as one designed to honor college faculty who are "interested and active in research, and concerned with the development of undergraduate students in terms of their values and social responsibility." In 1994 he was selected for a Pew Faculty Fellowship in International Affairs, a program based at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, which promoted case-method teaching and active learning techniques. He received a Ph.D. and M.A. in political science at the University of Michigan and a B.A. in government from Oberlin College.

Professor Lamborn's scholarly work focuses on the politics of strategic choice, bargaining and conflict resolution, the linkages between domestic and international politics, the nature of power, and theories of world politics. He is the author of The Price of Power: Risk and Foreign Policy in Britain, France, and Germany (1991) and coauthor, with Stephen Mumme, of Statecraft, Domestic Politics, and Foreign Policy Making (1988). His principal articles have appeared in the International Studies Quarterly and the International Studies Review.

Joseph Lepgold. The late Joseph Lepgold was associate professor of international affairs and government in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Department of Government at Georgetown University, where he won the School of Foreign Service Award for the Best Teacher in Government in 1997 and the School of Foreign Service Teaching Award in 1993 and 1996. He was field chair of the international relations subfield in the Department of Government and chair of the Faculty Field Committee for International Politics in the School of Foreign Service. He received a Ph.D. and M.A. in political science from Stanford University and a B.A. in international relations from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

Professor Lepgold's scholarly interests included multilateral security, theories of strategic interaction and of cognitive processes, and the link between theories of international relations and policy practice. He was the author, coauthor, or co-editor of five books dealing with alliance politics, regional conflict management, the uses of international relations theory in policy making, and burden-sharing: Beyond the Ivory Tower: International Relations Theory and the Problem of Policy Relevance with Miroslav Nincic (2001), Being Useful: Policy Relevance and International Relations Theory, edited with Miroslav Nincic (2000), Collective Conflict Management, edited with Thomas Weiss (1998), Friends in Need: Burden Sharing in the Persian Gulf, edited with Andrew Bennett and Danny Unger (1997), and The Declining Hegemon: The United States and European Defense, 1960-1990 (1990). His articles appeared in International Security, International Organization, Security Studies, Political Science Quarterly, Journal of Strategic Studies, Review of International Studies, and International Interactions. He also contributed chapters to a variety of scholarly collections on security studies and international relations theory.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Helping introductory students make sense of world politics matters. It matters because the issues that dominate world politics—the level of people's physical security, their place in the international political economy, the extent to which their human rights are respected, and the quality of the environment within which they lead their lives—are important politically, practically, and morally. It matters because world politics affects the life chances of each and every student in our classrooms, and they all deserve the opportunity to use a better understanding of the world around them to make more informed and effective choices about how to lead their lives. It matters because over the course of our careers we teach generations of students with the hope that informed and thoughtful citizens will produce a better world. Finally, how well our students learn also matters for narrow and personal reasons: It's a lot more fun to come out of a class on a high because your students "got it"; and looking forward to course evaluations sure beats dreading them.

While the incentives to invest in making our courses work well are clear, so too are the challenges. Perhaps the biggest challenge is that world politics is complex. Understanding the quest for security, the politics of international economics, the growing controversies over human rights, and the distinctive ways in which nature and politics collide to produce environmental issues involves making sense of a host of challenging concepts. It also involves learning an often overwhelming number of facts about the issues and the historical, cultural, and political contexts within which those issues play out. To overcome these challenges, students need to be willing to invest themselves in learning. That willingness, however, depends in turn on us: We need to show them how world politics affects their lives, to overcome the hurdles created by the wide variation in the quality of their preparation in such areas as history and economics, and to find a way to encourage an increasingly visual, "hunt-and-click" generation to read a sustained exploration of world politics.

All these challenges are complicated still further by the distinctive political culture of the discipline. The field of international relations is defined no less by what we study—world politics—than by deep and often passionately held differences about how we should study it. That creates a dilemma for faculty. If we teach just our own personal view of world politics, we do a disservice both to colleagues with whom we share legitimate differences and to our students, who will get a one-sided presentation. If, in an effort to avoid this problem, we use the field's differences as an essential organizing focus, we run the risk that we will inadvertently turn an introduction to world politics into an introduction to the field. When that happens we not only can lose sight of why we come together—to make better sense of the world around us—we can also produce a perverse unintended consequence: By stressing the differences in our intellectual tools and approaches, we can leave students with few tools they have any confidence in using.

We have tried to steer a course through these challenges that will make it easier for you and your students to focus on what really matters in an introductory course on world politics. The principles we used to steer that course are explained in the next sections of this preface. Along the way we relied both on our own sense of dead reckoning and on the immensely valuable reactions of many reviewers over a series of significant revisions and reorganizations. The reactions of the reviewers to the last drafts and the comments of students who used the preliminary edition are gratifying, but whether we have steered a course that works for you is not for us to decide.

The Conceptual Framework

We believe an introductory text should give students a set of tools they can use to make sense of world politics across a wide variety of issues, actors, and historical eras. We also believe that these tools should be designed to cultivate the largest piece of common intellectual and substantive ground available while simultaneously promoting an understanding and respect for intellectual and normative differences.

After decades of teaching and studying world politics, we are drawn to the conclusion that the largest piece of common ground available involves choice under conditions of strategic interdependence. All the major worldviews and virtually all of the principal intellectual traditions and research programs in the field sooner or later bump up against questions about the choices people make under conditions of strategic interdependence. Emphasizing this dimension of political life as an organizing theme gives students tools they can use without prejudging what worldviews and research traditions they will ultimately find most persuasive and interesting.

The second organizing theme is linkage politics. While there is a growing consensus that separating international and domestic politics is artificial and misleading, few texts reflect this emerging consensus and none does so in a systematic way. This failure not only makes it harder for students to make sense of world politics, it also makes it harder for them to see how world politics affects their lives. Unless they can see those connections, it is often hard for them to recognize why they should care enough to learn.

World Politics into the Twenty-First Century: Unique Contexts, Enduring Patterns has, therefore, two foundational features: It introduces students to world politics by focusing on enduring patterns in the politics of strategic choice; it integrates international and domestic politics throughout all the substantive topics in the text. By focusing on the process of strategic interaction in international and domestic politics—and on how they are connected—students can make sense of world politics even as the issues, actors, and contexts change. By focusing both on what political actors share in common and on how the reality of diversity creates meaningful differences, students can begin to learn how to walk in other people's shoes without feeling that they are being asked to give up their own values and perspectives.

This approach has another important advantage: It stresses patterns that are intuitive and makes complex concepts more accessible. Students make choices under conditions of strategic interdependence every day. The contexts in which they lead their daily lives may be far different from the contexts that characterize world politics, but many of the key underlying dimensions that drive the politics of choice are intuitive and resonate in ways that they can recognize. In addition to emphasizing what is similar about the politics of choice in world politics and in students' daily lives, we have tried to increase the accessibility of the material by using the theme of "unique contexts, enduring patterns" to connect factual and historical material with concepts and theoretical patterns. Students find it easier to make sense of world politics when they learn how to differentiate between what is unique to different contexts and what is common to the politics of strategic choice across those different contexts.

To promote these objectives, the four central issues in world politics—security, international political economy, human rights, and the environment—and their key concepts are all introduced in historical context. Doing that gives history a theoretically informed story line that not only makes it more interesting, it also leads students to consider the many ways in which ideas and worldviews have been shaped by historical and cultural roots. Whether it is free trade or balance of power, containment or preventive war, globalization or global warming, the ideas that dominate and inform contemporary debates in world politics reflect the efforts of real people to understand issues they cared about in distinctive historical, strategic, and cultural settings.

When one looks at world politics from the perspective of how unique contexts and enduring patterns combine, it appears that many competing intellectual traditions actually agree about how the process of political choice works. What they disagree about is the nature, frequency, and importance of different types of issues, actors, and strategic situations. Students will have a far easier time understanding and evaluating competing schools of thought when they can see a common set of assumptions about the process of politics buried underneath the debates about the relative value of the different approaches.

Finally, using the theme of "unique contexts, enduring patterns" to increase accessibility squares with the findings of a large body of recent educational research. It turns out that even the best students remember only 20 to 30 percent of the facts they learn for as long as two months. What they do retain is higher order learning skills—the capacity to think systematically and communicate effectively. None of this is to deny the central role of factual material in undergraduate education. But the purpose of "facts" is to convey essential background, to give students enough substance to hold their interest, and to illustrate and apply generalizations. A text that teaches students a way to think about world politics—while simultaneously giving them tools that can be used to evaluate both that perspective and competing ones—will help professors teach what students are capable of learning and retaining. It will also help students become more systematic and independent thinkers who can communicate their views more effectively.

The Organization of the Book

We discuss the plan of the book in detail at the end of Chapter 1 because we want students to know where we are going and why. In brief, the text is organized so that students are confronted immediately with the fact that world ...

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