Four years ago, I drafted a syllabus for a class that I wanted to teach.
It’s a course on international political economy that seeks to tease out how the United States has used its power position to shape the international system — and the states within it — over the last 30 years.
This age of American primacy facilitated a relatively peaceful international environment (at least insofar as there were no wars among great powers), an unprecedented growth in trade and capital flows, and an historic reduction in poverty.
Yet these advancements didn’t proceed without complication:
As the relative power positions were shifting more toward balance than imbalance, the age of American primacy appeared to be coming to an end. As I admonished my hypothetical students in the syllabus:
This matters. The contest for management of the international system will define the conditions in which you build your lives and careers, and it will shape the opportunities available to you in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
Alas — despite the hours I dedicated to crafting a syllabus — I’ve not yet had the opportunity to teach the course.
(Perhaps I should have spent those hours pitching the idea to more universities instead?)
There’s an outside chance that I could turn this into a book. But rather than sit on the ideas, I thought I’d share them in the hopes of inspiring someone, somewhere to engage in the big questions of our time.
I’ve included an outline of the course below; if you’re keen to peruse the whole syllabus, it’s free to download at the bottom of the post. Let me know what you think!