International Relations Online Cross University Courses

The following courses are available from International Relations Online, the American University School of International Service‘s online Master of Arts in International Relations program:

International Studies: History, Theory, Practice
3 credits
As befits the complexity of the realm it investigates, international studies is a multifaceted, interdisciplinary field, characterized more by recurrent debates and disagreements than by broadly consensual knowledge. This course begins by introducing three key controversies in the field—whether international politics is inevitably the domain of coercive force, whether actors on the international stage act based on interests or on ideas, and whether the international environment is relatively immutable or is amenable to more or less deliberate efforts to change it—and then exploring how those controversies inform a variety of historical cases and contemporary issues. The focus throughout the course is on making explicit the principles and perspectives underlying different and divergent views of international relations, including the principles and perspectives brought to the course by the students themselves.

Intercultural Communication
3 credits
This interdisciplinary course examines the interaction of people across cultures and considers such topics as cross-cultural communication, management and adaptation, intercultural negotiation, and how culture impacts conflict between individuals, cultures, and nations. The primary goal is to provide students with concepts, knowledge, and skills that will allow them to analyze and interpret the dynamics of any cross-cultural interaction or conflict. At the end of course, students will be able to:

  • Define intercultural communication as a field of inquiry within international relations
  • Identify and understand the contributions of major scholars in the field
  • Understand the dynamics of intercultural communication at the interpersonal, national and international levels
  • Apply concepts of the field to analyze and interpret case examples of intercultural conflict
  • Explain how culture impacts cross-cultural adaptation and negotiation
  • Consider how cultural aspects of national identity perpetuates international conflict and shapes foreign policy

Global Governance
3 credits
For centuries, mankind has struggled to find ways to organize international life and restrain the chaos and conflict that have so often plagued it. The increasing destructiveness of warfare and the accelerating pace of economic globalization have made that quest more urgent. But the search for structures to govern the world has always encountered forces that push in the other direction. The desire for uninhibited national sovereignty has been a consistent check on movements for global governance. As daunting have been simple coordination problems. What mission should international organizations have? Who should control them and to whom are they responsible? How should they be funded?
Today there exists a group of powerful but incomplete and often flawed institutions, including the World Bank, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the International Criminal Court, the European Union, the African Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Other less formal global governance initiatives have also emerged as important factors. Understanding the complex interactions between these initiatives and national governments and individuals is essential to understanding contemporary world politics.

Politics of Global Development
3 credits
Politics of Global Development offers examination into the field of international development. The course focuses on the history, theory, and current approaches toward alleviating poverty and global inequality, and focuses especially on the impacts of development strategies on the environment and on the most vulnerable members of society. This course emphasizes critical analysis of the central assumptions and power relations that have influenced the field, and resulting discourses, policies, programs, and political arrangements. In the course, we explore what development means, how to measure it, and how to understand attempts to balance between economic, ecological, and equity concerns. The course engages the key propositions that emerge in contemporary international development debates, and offers frameworks for evaluating theories, interventions, and policies. The course offers a foundation for uncovering and assessing social structures, institutions, inequalities, and development policies as theories meet practice.

The Making of United States Foreign Policy: Institutions and Processes
3 credits
This course introduces you to the institutions and processes involved in making US foreign, defense and intelligence policy. The course provides a brief overview of the foreign and national security challenges facing the United States and focuses on the institutions, decision-making processes and politics of US foreign and national security policy-making. It covers the State and Defense departments, the intelligence community, the White House, interagency processes, the Congress, and outside participants in the policy process.

The UNC School of Government will accept a combination of 12 transfer credits from International Relations Online as part of the International Relations Concentration. For more details, please visit our International Relations Concentration page.

All MPA@UNC students who are interested in the International Relations Concentration are required to contact Elizabeth Langefeld, Associate Director of Academic Advising and Student Life, at, to determine if each specific cross-university course aligns with their curriculum plan.