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Core Course Global Order in Historical Perspective


Admission requirements

Admitted to the MAIR programme : Global Order track.

Students are required to attend and participate actively in class, to complete an essay and to do a class presentation based on seminar readings or participate in moot court.


Understanding the processes behind the evolution of the global order, the pursuit of global justice and the variety of ethics, ideologies, institutions and norms that underpin the international political system is the central focus of this specialization. It regards the international political system as socially constructed and continuously reconfigured by different actors across time and space. Expanding upon critical, post-Western and feminist perspectives, it engages with different trajectories of states, organizations and peoples, examining how they are manifested in power relations and interact at different points across time to order the world. It asks whether the idea of pursuing global or universal ethics and justice is possible. Drawing on the multiplicity of perspectives and expertise across Area Studies, this specialization examines a range of different issues, from politics and ideologies to the evolution of international law and diplomacy, the emergence of civil society and the rise on non-state actors. It explores the development of institutions such as the UN and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which structure interactions and power relations within the international system.

Echoing the integrative approach of the MAIR, Global Order in Historical Perspective problematizes state-centric approaches to international relations by raising the question of justice for and by people across the world. The specialization reviews how power relations are structured, from the great power politics of global governance, to diplomatic culture in regional and national perspectives through regional and transnational groupings such as BRICS and the Non-Aligned Movement. The specialization invites inquiry into a range of problems that arise when actors challenge or resist the global order in the name of justice. These topics include, but are not limited to how to deal with genocide and failed states, engaging with NGOs and responding to social movements.

Course objectives

The primary goals of the course are to provide a solid grounding in the concept of how the global order has been constructed, to examine the practical aspects of solving the political, social and ethical dilemmas that arise, and to probe both the potential as well as the limitations of historical understandings of the problems and issues of global justice.

Students are expected to question the relationship between the historical processes and the representation of such processes in the construction of global orders. The main goals of the course for students are to become familiar with how historical understandings of issues and problems of global justice can function to both develop solutions and foster dialogue, to diversity constructions of the North-South relationship and the ways in which it manifests itself and to reinterpret the ways in which issues of global justice are infused with a variety of internationalisms.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Lecture and Seminar

Assessment method

Students are required to attend and participate actively in class, to complete two essays and to do a class presentation based on the second essay. The final grade is divided as follows: Participation (20%), Critical Review (30%), Final paper (30%) and class presentation (20%).

The participation grade depends on the careful reading of course texts, attendance, and the active involvement in class discussions. Students are expected to contribute on a regular basis to discussions and engage with the course texts.

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following:
The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.

If necessary, the resit will be arranged by handing out an additional written assignment pending the individual situation and in consultation with the lecturer.

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Core Texts:

  • Duncan Bell (ed.) 2010.* Ethics and World Politics*. Oxford: Oxford University Press

  • Amartya Sen, The Idea of Justice (Harvard, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009).

  • Podcast: Global Dispatches. Please subscribe to this podcast which has some relevant episodes on the topics below and also to keep up to date with current affairs which are relevant to our discussions.

Selected Course Readings:

  • Andrew J. Bacevich, ‘ISSF Policy Series: The “Global Order” Myth,’ H-Diplo, 13 July 2017:

  • Duncan Bell (ed.) 2010. Ethics and World Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chapter 6, The Ethics of International Society, Peter Jones.

  • Bellamy, Alex J. 2003. Humanitarian responsibilities and interventionist claims in international society. Review of International Studies 29 (3): 321-40.

  • Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and Politics of Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010). Chapters 10 & 13.

  • Sebastian Conrad, Rethinking Colonialism in a Global Age, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History,"41.4 (2013): 534-566.

  • Christopher R. W. Dietrich, Oil Power and Economic Theologies: The United States and the Third World in the Wake of the Energy Crisis, Diplomatic History 40.3 (2016): 500-529.

  • Jaci Eisenberg. The Status of Women: A Bridge from the League of Nations to the United Nations. Journal of International Studies 4 (2013): 9-24.

  • David Engerman and Corinna R. Unger, Towards a Global History of Modernization, Diplomatic History 33.3 (2009): 375-385.

  • Gareth Evans, The Limits of State Sovereignty: The Responsibility to Protect in the 21st Century. Eight Neelam Tiruchelvam Memorial lecture, 29 July 2009 (available online).

  • Robert Gerwarth and Erez Manela,* The Great War as a Global War: Imperial Conflict and the Reconfiguration of World Order, 1911-1923*, Diplomatic History 38.4 (2014): 786-800.

  • Michael Goebel, Anti-Imperial Metropolis, Interwar Paris and the Seeds of Third World Nationalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015). Chapter 6.

  • Richard Haass,* A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order* (New York: Penguin Press, 2017) Introduction & Part III. 10.

  • Eric Helleiner, Forgotten Foundations of Bretton Woods: International Development and the Making of the Postwar Order (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014), Introduction and Conclusion.

  • G. John Ikenberry, After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order after Major Wars (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), pp. 163-91.

  • Simon Jackson & Alanna O’Malley,* ‘Rocking on its Hinges? The League of Nations, the United Nations and the New History of Internationalism in the Twentieth Century,’* in The Institution of International Order: From the League of Nations to the United Nations (London: Routledge, 2018).

  • Rebecca E. Karl, Creating Asia: China in the World at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, American Historical Review 103.4 (1998): 1096-1118.

  • Sönke Kunkel, Contesting Globalization: The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the Transnationalization of Sovereignty , in Marc Frey, Sönke Kunkel and Corinna R. Unger (eds.), International Organizations and Development, 1945-1990 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 240-258.

  • Charles S. Maier,* ‘Malaise’: The Crisis of Capitalism in the 1970s*, in Niall Ferguson (ed.), The Shock of the Global: The 1970s in Perspective (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010), pp. 25-48.

  • Carol Miller, Geneva—the Key to Equality: Inter-war Feminists and the League of Nations, Women’s History Review 3 (1994): 219-245.

  • Panjak Mishra, Age of Anger, A History of the Present (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux: New York, 2017), 36-82.

  • Samuel Moyn, The End of Human Rights History, Past and Present, (September 2016)

  • Dambisa Moyo,* Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa* (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009). Chapter TBC.

  • Diana M. Natermann, Pursuing Whiteness in the Colonies. Private Memories from the Congo Free State and German East Africa (1884-1914), (Münster: Waxmann, 2018). Chapter 2.

  • Timothy Nunan, Humanitarian Invasion: Global Development in Cold War Afghanistan (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016). Chapter 2.

  • Susan Pedersen, The Guardians, The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015) Part 1-3, A Whole World Talking.

  • Paula Pfeffer, ‘A Whisper in the Assembly of Nations’: United States’ Participation in the International Movement for Women’s Rights from the Nations to the United Nations, Women’s Studies International Forum 8 (1985): 459-471.

  • Samantha Power, A Problem from Hell, America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Harper Collins, 2003). Chapter 4.

  • Vijay Prashad,* The Darker Nations, A People’s History of the Global South* (New York: Left Word Press, 2007), 207-224.

  • Amartya Sen, The Idea of Justice (Harvard, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009), Introduction.

  • Bradley R. Simpson, Self-Determination, Human Rights, and the End of Empire in the 1970s, Humanity 4.2 (2013): 239-260.

  • Glenda Sluga, Internationalism in the Age of Nationalism (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania University Press, 2013) Chapter 2; pp. 79-117.

  • Stewart M. Patrick, An Open World is in the Balance. What Might Replace the Liberal Order? World Politics Review, 10 January 2017: Human Rights and Liberation Politics in Africa’s Postcolonial Age”, Journal of World History 24.2 (2013): 389-416.

  • Wheeler, Nicholas, J. 2000. Saving Strangers – Humanitarian Intervention in International Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Introduction & Chapter 1.


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General information about uSis is available on the website.


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