Core Curriculum

The purpose of the core curriculum is to ensure that every MA student in the Global Thought program receives a theoretical, broad-based, interdisciplinary foundation in the concepts behind global thought. Each of the core courses will expose students to a range of approaches, methods, and theories, while allowing them to work directly with leading scholars in global thought. This includes graduate-level course work in trans-national relations, economics, politics, philosophy, and cultural analysis. Students are required to take a one-semester long course in global governance, a one-semester long course in global political economy, a one-semester long course in global politics and culture, and a two-semester long seminar course to help students hone their research interests within the MA essay.

Global Governance

Global Governance explores the challenges of thinking about and effectuating governance in a global era. Globalization raises classical governance issues, namely who exercises the authority to govern or manage others, how this authority is legitimized, and how the governance can be implemented and made accountable. However, globalization also poses new challenges for thinking about the concept of governance, as global issues have no single or natural locus of governance. The international legal order with the UN at its center is one of many global governance regimes. It coexists, sometimes competes with, and at others, complements local and regional, state and non-state, participatory and special interest regimes.

Global issues have no single or natural locus of governance.

Specific issues within this course area might include the international legal order and its relation to national, local, state, non-state, participatory, special interest and other legal regimes; global public goods; multi-stakeholder governance; public vs. private global governance; and the mechanisms of global governance.

Global Political Economy

Global Political Economy explores the economic forces that shape globalization and its effects on countries and world citizens. Economic globalization has impacted national-level economies and individual citizens around the world, from income convergence and global financial instability, to human development achievements and migration flows. Understanding these forces in historical and contemporary context is essential to addressing the opportunities and dangers presented by global economic ties. As countries increasingly undertake active development policies to catch up with the more advanced members of the global community, new debates emerge on the global balance of power, international support for less developed countries, and the rise of new global players.

Understanding global economic forces in historical and contemporary context is essential.

Specific issues within this course area might include world trends in human development; income distribution worldwide and within countries; global financial, monetary and trading systems; financial volatility and debt crises; the economics of global environmental and climate issues; and policy making in and for developing countries.

Global Politics and Culture

Global Politics and Culture explores the impact of globalization on cultural diversity. The era of globalization has not eliminated established historical debates, for example on the place of the individual in society or the tension between religion and secularism. Rather, these debates take on new forms and manifestations in the global era. As local, global and transnational identities emerge and evolve, new expressions of solidarity, ethics and political action emerge as well.  For the prevailing presuppositions of globalization’s effects on cultural diversity to evolve, we must explore new concepts and categories that have emerged as central in the study of culture and politics in recent years. Both enduring and newer issues must be understood with historical depth as well as an appreciation for contemporary debate.

Cultural debates take on new forms and manifestations in the global era.

Specific issues within this course area might include religion and secularism; feminism; identity politics; opposition to violence and terror; cosmopolitanism and urbanism; nationalism; ethnicity and identity; and post-colonialism.

MA Seminars I and II

MA Seminars are composed of a two-semester sequence that concentrates in the Fall on different research methodologies and disciplinary approaches as well as on the choice of research topic for the essay. The Spring semester is dedicated to developing the argument and completing the research project.

The essay is an original piece of research, interpretation, and analysis that draws on interdisciplinary course work, a variety of analytic strategies, and primary source materials.

The first seminar provides the groundwork that will allow students to successfully complete their essay and formulate a well-defined topic. The course will combine substantive and methodological readings with a workshop component designed to familiarize students with major topics in global thought, expand their disciplinary horizon, help them formulate a research question, identify sources and create analytic hypotheses for further in depth study. In the workshop sessions, the students will produce the research question, bibliography, essay paragraph, outline, and draft of a proposal for their MA essay, which they will write in the second semester.

The second seminar is devoted to developing and completing the MA essay with class presentations, discussion of drafts, and close consultation not only with the instructors of the seminar but also with the student’s research adviser in his or her field. Grading for this course is based on the essay alone.