Explore the role of International Organizations

International Organization


Course Description

In this course, we will explore the role of international organizations (IOs) in world politics.

States are sovereign actors, but they often cede sovereignty to international organizations.

States also often act in compliance with these institutions as if they were independent actors.

This semester, we will examine the origins, design, and influence of international organizations in the international system. First, we will examine why states create international institutions. Second, we will examine the different ways in which international institutions are designed, as well as why states choose to design international institutions in particular ways. Finally, we will explore the influence of international organizations on state behavior, including the degree to which states comply and the effectiveness of institutions in changing state behavior. In exploring the origins, design, and influence of IOs, we will study both intergovernmental organizations (e.g. the UN, WTO, IMF), as well as supranational institutions (e.g. the ICC). We will also discuss  soft institutions like human rights law.


Course Objectives

Upon successfully completing this course, students should be able to:

_ Explain the conceptual and historical evolution of international organizations in world politics.

_ Summarize academic theories explaining why states design international organizations in particular ways.

Summarize academic theories explaining how international organizations influence state behavior, and determine whether empirical evidence supports or falsies those theories.

_ Compare and contrast different international institutions, particularly the problems they solve and how they solve them, their organizational structure, their effectiveness, etc.

_ Make policy recommendations regarding the design and output of international organizations based on theory and empirical evidence, and communicate those recommendations orally and in writing.



Graduate students will write a research paper. This research paper will be similar to a grant proposal, that is, you will identify an interesting puzzle, debate in the literature, or substantive question; review the literature related to this puzzle, debate, or question; offer a theoretical answer that addresses your puzzle, debate, or question; and present a research design to test at least one implication of your theory.

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