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Polarity and the International Order

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Professor Ayse Zarakol (University of Cambridge) explores the concept of polarity and how it relates to our understanding of the international order in global politics. In the first module, we begin with an introduction to the field of International Relations, before moving on in the second module to consider three key schools of thought in international relations: realism, liberalism, and constructivism. In the third module, we explore how realists see polarity in the international order, focusing in particular on the concepts of multipolarity, bipolarity, and unipolarity, with historical examples given for each. In the fourth module, we turn to discuss how polarity looks in the twenty-first century, covering theories such as Balance of Power Realism and Power Transition Theory as well as accounting for China’s rise and hypothesising as to what this may entail for the future of the international order. In the fifth and final module, we discuss where the international order is headed next, returning once more to realist, liberal, and constructivist perspectives.

About the Lecturer

Professor Ayşe Zarakol is Professor of International Relations at the University of Cambridge. Her research sits at the intersection of historical sociology and IR, focusing on East-West relations in the international system, the history and future of world order(s), conceptualisations of modernity and sovereignty, rising and declining powers, and Turkish politics in a comparative perspective. She recently published 'Before the West: Rise and Fall of Eastern World Orders' in 2022 with Cambridge University Press.