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API 6339: International Institutions

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University of Ottawa - Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

API-6339: International Institutions

Course Description from the Syllabus: This course will explore the history and evolution of security and economic institutions of multilateral governance over the course of the twentieth century, continuing up to the present day. Different institutional forms, innovations, and ad hoc arrangements of international governance will be surveyed. The course will begin with an analysis of the nineteenth century balance of power system that prevailed during the period of competitive imperialisms prior to WWI. Collective security experiments will then be examined, beginning with the League of Nations that was designed to provide the basis for multilateral governance after the end of “the war to end all wars.”

We shall then examine the way in which the collapse of the League of Nations contributed to the construction of the post WWII world order, with the United Nations emerging as the lead organization. Regional institutions and alliances as alternatives to universal membership organizations will also be examined. The debate about hegemonic stability and the consequences of American decline from hegemony will be considered, as a way to understand the emergence of international regimes as a basis of governance and the discussion of the challenges of cooperation under anarchy.

Finally, the course will explore more recent debates about the role of institutions after the end of the Cold War, the growing role of non-state actors and the emergence of private authority in global governance, as well as the significance of transnational advocacy networks in the contemporary international institutional landscape.

This course will provide students with an historicization of debates about multilateral governance and the changing role of international organizations over the course of the past century, illustrating the complexity of elements of different governance arrangements.

General Objectives: The objectives of the course include:

  1. sensitizing seminar participants to the contextual setting of theoretical and empirical work on international institutions,
  2. providing a basis for a sophisticated understanding of contemporary theoretical work on multilateral governance and international organizations,
  3. and examining the emergence of different conceptions of governance over the past century.

Faculty: Alexandra Gheciu

Source: Syllabus downloaded from on 13 January 2014.

Teaching Topics Addressed in this Course, Organized by Public Management Subject



Commentary by the Atlas editors: The class titles suggest a number of the potential topics to be developed for the Atlas: 

  • Contending IR Approaches to the Study of International Institutions
  • The 19th Century Inheritance – Balance of Power as Governance during the Age of Imperialism
  • Critiques of Balance of Power and the Creation of the League of Nations as a Basis for Governance
  • Attempts to Construct a Stable International Order after World War II: The United Nations and the Promotion of International Peace
  • International Regimes
  • International Financial Institutions
  • Collective Defense Institutions: NATO
  • Implications of Regional Integration: the EU on the International Stage
  • Transnational Mobilization and Non-governmental Organizations
  • Private Authority and Private Actors in International Governance
  • Globalization and Global Civil Society

Page created by: Ian Clark on 19 January 2014. The content presented on this page, except in the Commentary, is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases.




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© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance