2015 Spring Syllabus

Topics: Diplomacy, International relations, Foreign minister Pages: 6 (1478 words) Published: March 3, 2015
 The power to hurt is bargaining power. To exploit it is diplomacy--vicious diplomacy, but diplomacy. T.C. Schelling, academician, Nobel Prize winner

Most governments lie to each other. That’s the real world we deal with. Robert Gates, ex-Secretary of Defense

GOVT 342 –Spring 2015


Joseph F. Becelia: jbecelia@gmu.edu

Office and Office Hours:
Robinson A, 218A, after each class and by arrangement

Required Texts

Berridge, G.R. Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, fourth edition -- The history, mechanisms, and methods of diplomacy.

Freeman, Chas.Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy -- Discusses diplomacy as an instrument of state power and a reflection of national interests.

Other readings are assigned. See class schedule that follows. Students must also keep well informed of current international affairs, which will serve as background for class presentations and exercises and will be included in tests.

Your attention is called to the following valuable resources:

1 GMU’s Writing Center for anyone seeking to improve drafting skills. http://writingcenter.gmu.edu

2) University Libraries: “Ask a Librarian.”

3 Disability Resource Center. If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodation, please see me and contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at (703) 993-2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through that office.


I encourage and welcome consultation with students. E-mail is a quick, reliable way to communicate with me. I will also transmit to the class important information by e-mail. Make sure you have a functioning GMU e-mail account. See http://masonlive.gmu.edu. Grades and other information will be posted on Blackboard.


This course will familiarize students with the craft of international diplomacy and the role of diplomats in advancing their governments’ objectives. As used here, the term “diplomats” is a broad one, encompassing heads of government and other high-ranking officials as well as professional diplomats working in foreign ministries and in embassies abroad.

Diplomacy and foreign policy are closely linked. Accordingly, while the course centers on diplomacy, it also includes segments on foreign-policy making and the forces that drive it. Emphasis in both areas is on the practical, i.e., the way policy is made and carried out and the roles of the individuals and institutions responsible. In this context, students will conduct simulations of real-life situations such as those that confront diplomats and policy makers. The required paper for the course is also geared to the hands-on functions of diplomacy (see below).

The course is aimed at improving your understanding of how the world works and the role of foreign-policy practitioners in the high-stakes, often unforgiving arena in which they function. An additional aim is to sharpen skills in drafting, oral presentation, and critical thinking--all key components of the practice of diplomacy.


There are two preliminary tests (see schedule attached) and a final exam. Make-up tests will not be given. Students will also write a paper in the form of a telegram from a diplomatic post containing analysis and policy recommendations. The paper will be five to six pages, double-spaced, with emphasis on clear, concise drafting, quality of analysis, and strength of advocacy. The topic and detailed guidance will be provided later. There will be a five-point penalty per calendar day--up to a maximum of seven days--for papers not submitted on the due date. After seven days, no credit will be given.

Class participation counts for 10 percent of final grades. Class participation includes volunteering for...
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