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Emerging Powers in World Affairs



Objective 1:
In this course, students will learn to think and write about:

  • the geopolitical consequences of the rise of new global powers;

  • the implications of the rise of new powers on the present international order and global governance institutions;

  • how the particular histories, geographical locations, resource constraints, and the preferences of these emerging powers informs their trajectory.

Objective 2:
Students will acquire the following skills:

  • appraise the strengths and limitations of theoretical approaches to explaining the consequences of the rise of new powers;

  • based on evidence and theories discussed in class, present and evaluate different scenarios on how global structures may evolve in the future;

  • Present research findings in a clear, concise and convincing manner and offer policy recommendations.

Content: Since the end of the Cold War, there has been an emphasis on the military and economic primacy of the United States (U.S.) as the central organizing factor of international relations. Over the last decade however, the U.S.’ relative dominant position has slowly been eroding, mainly in the economic sphere. In parallel, (re-)emerging powers such as Brazil, India, and China have gradually become aware of their growing material capabilities and are attempting to transform these newly acquired resources into international influence. The rise of new global powers has produced a complex and dynamic geopolitical landscape. What do emerging powers what? What are the implications for the existing international order? Will their rise be peaceful? Will see changes in the post-World War II structures and systems of global governance? How will the established powers react to this power transition? Do we have the proper analytical tools to answer these various questions?

The course focuses on the evolving global role played by China, India, Brazil and South Africa (as well as other rising powers) and their international interactions with the U.S., Western Europe and Japan. There will also be a comparison with historical cases of rising (and declining) powers.

Methods of Instruction


Study Material

Book and articles


Essays, presentation, participation, and a Policy Brief



Students need to register for lectures, work group sessions and advanced courses in uSis. It is not possible to take a course without a valid registration. Please consult the course registration website for information on registration periods and further instructions.