The rise of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) and the emergence of the G20 have recently been juxtaposed with financial crises in the US and the EU to suggest that the poles of global economic power are shifting. As a result of this shift, policy-makers are increasingly required to consider issues in contemporary international relations from a variety of non-Western standpoints. Unfortunately, the academic field of Global Political Economy (GPE) has traditionally been orientated around Western ideas and frameworks that merely incorporate the non-West as case studies, leaving policy-makers devoid of the conceptual tools necessary to address global problems today. The Global Political Economy Specialization Core Course seeks to correct this ‘Western bias’ in GPE by critically exploring a range of contemporary issues across a number of areas or regions from the vantage point of non-Western theoretical positions. In so doing, this core course challenges students to cultivate a truly international mindset that is culturally aware and can generate more effective policy in the future.
The course begins by addressing the key assumptions made by traditional approaches to GPE and how to reconsider and challenge these assumptions. Students then critically explore alternative and critical approaches to GPE. These approaches are applied throughout the course to a series of core issues in the study of the global political economy, including: global finance, trade agreements, financial lending, aid, and international financial institutions, migration and the globalization of production, financial crises, structural inequality and development, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and fair trade, and environmental politics. The course requires students to continually ask what human beings (can) do to change their world and to perceive issues from a myriad of cultural standpoints. With this in mind students will critically evaluate policy responses to a specific issue from an alternative viewpoint to ensure cross-cultural comparability and critique. Students will also be expected to employ the theoretical knowledge gained from the first semester concepts, ideas, and beliefs core course and comparative regionalism courses to explore alternative approaches to understanding each of the issues studied. In this way, this core module encourages students to foster a critical and comparative approach in their study of IPE that is attentive to non-Western ideas and frameworks. The concluding section explores the future of the global political economy, paying specific attention to emerging economies and new frameworks, such as the BRICS bank and the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB).