Author:
Charlotte Lee
Subject:
Political Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab, Lecture Notes, Lesson Plan, Reading
Level:
Community College / Lower Division
Tags:
  • Constructivism
  • International Relations
  • Marxism
  • Responsibility to Protect
  • Theory
    License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Language:
    English
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs, Video

    Marxism and Constructivism in IR Theory

    Overview

    Module on Marxism and constructivism in international relations theory. Intended for community college students and aligned with the requirements for POLS 140: Introduction to International Relations within the California Community College system. Includes readings, lesson plan, and ancillary materials (lecture slides and handout).

    Lesson Plan: Marxism and Constructivism in International Relations Theory

    Lesson Plan: Marxism and Constructivism

    Topic: Critical Approaches I: Marxism and Constructivism

    Week #: 3

    Estimated Time: 150-180 minutes

     

    Assigned Readings:

    1. Pal, Maïa. 2018. “Marxism in International Relations Theory.” In International Relations Theory, Stephen McGlinchey, ed. Adapted by Charlotte Lee. (9 pages, core reading)
    2. Lenin, V.I. Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. 1916. Edited .pdf available (6 pages, core reading) Also available online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/ch07.htm
    3. Theys, Sarina and Maysam Behravesh. 2018. “Constructivism in International Relations Theory.” In International Relations Theory, Stephen McGlinchey, ed. Adapted by Charlotte Lee. (10 pages, core reading)
    4. United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. n.d. (accessed September 2019). “About the Responsibility to Protect.” Available online at https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/about-responsibility-to-protect.shtml (5 pages, briefing)
    5. Power, Samantha. Dec. 13, 2016. Remarks by Ambassador Samantha Power at a UN Security Council Emergency Briefing on Syria. Available online at https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/remarks-ambassador-samantha-power-un-security-council-emergency-briefing-syria (5 pages, news piece)

     

    Total page count: 35

    Learning Objectives:

    By the end of this lesson plan, students will be able to:

    1. Define key concepts in two critical international relations theories
    2. Evaluate how Marxists and world system theorists describe and explain behavior in international relations
    3. Evaluate how constructivists describe and explain behavior in international relations
    4. Analyze an example of norm creation in international relations

    Misconceptions of Topic:

    1. Students may associate Marxism solely with revolution in a domestic context
    2. Students may associate Marxism solely with communism and/or Cold War rhetoric in the US

     

    Lesson Component

    Ancillary(ies)

    Lecture: Review learning objectives

    Lecture slides

    Brainstorm/write on board: Is Marxism dead in international politics? Why or why not?

     

    Lecture slides

    Whiteboard for class discussion of question prompts on slide

    Lecture and discussion: Key concepts in Marxism

    Reading 1

    Lecture slides

    Think Pair Share: Respond to Lenin’s Imperialism

    Reading 2

    Lecture slides

    Lecture and discussion: Key concepts in World System Theory

    Reading 1

    Lecture slides

    Lecture and discussion: Key concepts in Constructivism

    Reading 3

    Lecture slides

    Online video and discussion: Constructivism

    Reading 3

     

    Online resource:

    Soomo Publishing (June 10, 2011), “Theory in Action: Constructivism” (Approx. 5 minutes)

    URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYU9UfkV_XI

     

    Application and discussion: Responsibility to Protect in the case of Syria’s civil war

    Readings 4 and 5

    Lecture slides

    Handout

     

    Online resource:

    UN Security Council speech by Samantha Power on the situation in Syria: http://webtv.un.org/search/the-situation-in-the-middle-east-syria-security-council-7834th-meeting/5246494281001/#t=26m

     

    Conclude and wrap-up

    Lecture slides

     

    Required Readings: Marxism and Constructivism

    Contents:

    • Reading #1: Pal 2018
    • Reading #2: Lenin 1916
    • Reading #3: Theys and Maysam 2018
    • Reading #4: United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect 2019
    • Reading #5: Power 2016

    Introducing the readings:

    This unit’s readings introduce students to two major theories in international relations, Marxism and constructivism. To anchor the study of each theory, there are at least two readings for each: an OER textbook chapter and one or more applied readings.

    Marxism is a leading “critical” international relations theory in its focus on class-based exploitation that is global in scale. Pal (2018) presents an overview of major ideas in Marxism. To get a sense of the historical reach of Marxist ideas, as well as the intellectual contributions of V.I. Lenin, one accompanying primary reading is an excerpt from Lenins’s 1916 pamphlet on global imperialism.

    Constructivism is a younger theory in the study of international relations. Theys and Behravesh (2018) provide an overview of key ideas in constructivism. One application of constructivism can be found in the study of a new global norm, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). To understand the force of this idea, as deployed in the United Nations, two resources are the UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect’s webpage on “About the Responsibility to Protect” and remarks made by US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power to the UN Security Council on Syria in 2016.

    Ancillary Materials: Marxism and Constructivism

    Attached are CC-licensed lecture slides and a handout to accompany the lesson plan for Marxism and constructivism.