SOCS 633
Solving the World's Problems: Diplomacy and Decision-making in International Politics

Giulio Gallarotti   

Course Description

This course represents a hands-on approach to decision-making and diplomacy. It is designed to allow students to take part in diplomatic and decision-making exercises in the context of international political issues and problems. Important historical decisions will be evaluated and re-enacted. In addition, more current international problems that face nations today will be analyzed and decisions will be made on prospective solutions. Finally, various modern day diplomatic initiatives will be scrutinized and renegotiated. The class will essentially function as a working committee, considering a different problem or issue each week. Preparations for decisions and diplomatic bargaining will rely both on assigned readings as well as additional outside materials collected by the students. A significant part of the preparations and class activities will involve extensive team work.


Final course grades will be based one paper on a subject to be announced, presentations on team projects, and class participation.  It is essential that you keep up with the readings so as to enhance participation, as well as avoid excess reading before assignments.   

Grades will be assigned based on the following weights:                        
Participation                  33%
Paper 1                         33%     Due on Week 7                        
Presentations                 33%     Weeks 11 and 12


All the readings on this syllabus will be required.  I have  prepared packets of readings which can be purchased at PIP Printing at 179 Main Street Middletown (344-9001). You can order them online at The following books will be used extensively and are recommended for purchase: 

Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics
Robert Kennedy, Thirteen Days
Michael Oldstone,  Viruses, Plagues and History

Course Schedule
Class 1

Introductory Class: Theories and Processes of High-level Decision-making and Diplomacy 

Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics,  Chapters 4,5,6,9,10           

Russett, Starr and Kinsella, “Individuals and World Politics”

Class 2

Revisiting the A-bomb  Decision: Optimal Strategies for Concluding the Pacific War  

William O’Neil, “The Destruction of Japan” 

Melvyn Leffler, “Truman’s Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb” 

Gar Alperovitz, “Hiroshima: Historians Reassess”

Class 3

Revisiting the Cuban Missile Crisis: Effective Brinkmanship Strategies           

Robert Kennedy, Thirteen Days

Class 4

Development Diplomacy: Negotiations on Development in UNCTAD 

Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, Chapters 1,2 

Marguerite Robinson, The Microfinance Revolution, Chapter 1

Class 5

Environmental Diplomacy: OECD and the Third World           

Julian Simon, “The Infinite Supply of Natural Resources”           

Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons”           

Adil Najam, “The View from the South”

Class 6

Strategies for Promoting Global Health 

Laura Gaydos and James Veney, “The Nature and Etiology of Disease”  

Michael Oldstone, Viruses, Plagues and History 

Brian Doherty, “Who Cares? The World Health Organization Cares More about Its Own Life than the Lives of the Poor”

Class 7

Nuclear Diplomacy           

Michael Mandlebaum, The Nuclear Future, Chapters 2,3

Class 8

Reforming the International Monetary Fund           

Graham Bird, “The International Monetary Fund and Developing Countries”           

Ismail-Sabri Abdalla, “The Inadequacy and Loss of Legitimacy of the IMF”

Class 9

Policies for Embracing Globalization 

Martin Wolf, Why Globalization Works, Chapters 3,4 

Martin Khor, “The Global Economy and the Third World”

Class 10

Building Institutions for  Human Rights 

Ziring, Riggs and Plano, The United Nations,  pp. 326-345 

Seyom Brown,  Human Rights in World Politics, Chapters  1,2,5

Class 11 Presentation of Team Projects
Class 12 Presentation of Team Projects