World flag map

International Relations satisfies multiple categories, including: Women’s, Gender, and Sexualities Studies Elective; Non-Violence Studies Elective; Peace and Conflict Studies Elective. Also referred to as POL141, International Relations is a course known for light homework assignments, but heavy essay assignments. This is not a course that should be avoided, and here are 5 reasons why:

1. Model UN

A major chunk of your grade (20%) comes from preparing for, participating in, and reflecting on your Model UN experience. Those who enjoy politics will have a blast and those who do not will learn to love politics. This simulation puts you live into the action.  There are UN General Assemblies, Security Councils, and more – you compete with your respective country to reach your goals surrounding real issues; often through strategic, military means. This simulation lasts an entire day (6-8 hours), but it is well worth it.  Ask anyone who has taken the class, and you will hear the same.

2. Understanding Our World

Hobbes said it best, “The condition of man… is a condition of war of everyone against everyone.” In this course, you will learn about the true nature of international relations. If you thought that the U.S., Russia, or China were following international law, then think again. There is a cruel reality to the world and through this course, it is understood as human nature. Hearing such a concept and learning its origins is interesting. But to truly grasp such an idea, one must ponder on their own. In the meanwhile, great powers collide and minor states attempt to grow and survive in their own right.

3. The Professors

There are two or three professors who teach this course, all of whom are highly recommended. On rate-my-professor, some people say that International Relations professors are boring, but it is not the case if you engage in the material and class discussion. It’s really up to you: the information can be dull, but if you put in the time to read it, not only is it interesting, but it’s a lot of fun to realize people have been thinking along those lines for centuries. The professors are among the best in the school and they know a heck of a lot of information. If you pay attention, your interest will genuinely increase, and so will your knowledge of politics and the way the world works.

4. It’s Not That Hard

Sometimes, there are courses you must decide between, and IGS/POL 141 falls nicely into this category since there are other courses that will often fulfill this requirement. When making your decision, consider the fact that International Relations is not too hard of a class. While there are a lot of assigned readings, there are never quizzes on the material, and the exams are all take-home (including the midterm and final). Be prepared for a lot of writing. Still, the amount of writing done in this class compared to other courses is not incredibly overwhelming. If you pay attention in class and write about the concepts that the professor is interested in, you should be able to succeed with flying colors.

5. Applicability To Other Courses

International Relations teaches concepts that can easily be translated to other subjects, specifically within Political Science and International Studies, but also any course in which philosophical thought occurs. The class contains an underlying philosophy that can be used in almost any discussion relating to power, rules, and ultimately any philosophical discussion. Note the teachings of philosophers in this class and pay special attention to their teachings. Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, and others – all of them teach valuable lessons that can be applied to other courses, as well as your own life.

International Relations is a highly recommended course for its interesting ideas, ease of work, professors, and most importantly, Model UN experience. You will NOT regret taking this course, as it not only sets you up nicely for your Elon undergraduate studies, but also develops your mind as an individual. This sounds cliché, but after taking the course, and specifically participating in Model UN, you will understand that analyzing international relations is actually a lot more fun than people would imagine. Taking this class has a nice combination of interesting material, and a relaxed schedule. You should definitely consider it if the opportunity arises.


Skyler De Groot