Ethics and International Affairs

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Two Sections Available to Choose From:

Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
June 21, 2021 - July 02, 20216/21 - 7/022 WeeksM-F 3:30P-6:20PWaitlistedOn-CampusRichard Maher
June 21, 2021 - July 02, 20216/21 - 7/022 WeeksM-F 12:15P-3:05PWaitlistedOn-CampusRichard Maher

Course Description

This course examines the complex relationship between ethics and politics in international affairs. Starting with an overview of different perspectives on the role of ethics and morality in international relations, the course then explores the ethical dimensions of issues central to foreign policy and the study of world politics, including the use of force, human rights, and global distributive justice. This course aims to foster an analytical approach that encourages students to think about applied international ethics in a rigorous and systematic manner.

The course analyzes a number of contemporary issues that raise important ethical questions, such as preventive war against Iran, staging a humanitarian intervention in Syria, what we owe the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, our obligation to the world's poorest citizens, and our duties and responsibilities to the environment. Upon completion of this course, students will have learned different theoretical approaches to the study of ethics and international affairs, main concepts, and the parameters of key debates. This course will also enable students to identify the strengths and weaknesses of different arguments, perspectives, and viewpoints.

This course aims to provide students with a deeper understanding of the role of ethics in international affairs. It does not aim to convert students to a particular perspective, opinion, or other viewpoint. Instead, the goal is to equip students with the ability to apply ethical principles to international phenomena. To accomplish this goal, this course will focus on developing and strengthening student's writing, analytical, critical thinking, and public speaking skills.

By the end of this course, students will:
• Have a basic understanding of the main perspectives and traditions concerning the proper role of ethics and morality in international affairs.
• Develop practical knowledge of many contemporary issues where ethical questions are at stake, including humanitarian intervention, preventive war, the environment, and global economic inequality, while evaluating strategies for managing these challenges.
• Formulate policy recommendations for actors to pursue and implement a foreign policy informed and guided by ethical principles.

Prerequisites: A basic knowledge of international politics is the only prerequisite.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPS0943

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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