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National Interests

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A Teaching Topic in Intergovernmental and Global Context

National Interests

This teaching topic examines how and why different states determine their national interests, and the implications of such determinations on state behaviour and decision-making.

Topic Learning Outcome:  Students will be able to analyze and interpret the actions of specific states, and will be knowledgeable about the processes through which particular states determine their national interests and the strategies they employ to advance those interests.

Core Concepts associated with this Topic: Westphalian Sovereignty (and its evolution).

Recommended Reading (University of Toronto PPG-2008)

United States National Security Strategy 2002 (George W. Bush) at http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/nss/nss_sep2002.pdf (accessed 23 February 2013). 

Russia’s 2008 Foreign Policy Concept at http://archive.kremlin.ru/eng/text/docs/2008/07/204750.shtml (accessed 23 February 2013).

Studin, Irvin, "Canada’s Four-Point Game" (Global Brief, Spring/Summer 2012) at http://globalbrief.ca/blog/2012/06/07/canada%e2%80%99s-four-point-game/ (accessed 23 February 2013).

Sample Assessment Questions:

1.) What are some of the possible interests that can motivate state behavior? Please identify three, using illustrative examples .

2.) What is the Treaty of Westphalia, and why is it an important concept for understanding international relations?

Page created by: Ian Clark and Ben Eisen last updated 21 May, 2015.


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© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance