International Organization

Is the history and function of IOs better captured by realist or institutionalist logic?
In the course we have looked at several theoretically-informed mechanisms of how IOs work, the
history of their formation, their institutional design, and their empirical records. Utilizing those ideas and empirics, make a case for a realist or institutionalist (liberal and/or constructivist) interpretation of the role of IOs in attempting to provide international order.
You will likely find elements of both in your analysis and should honestly assess those elements. I am not looking for everything to conform to only one approach. But, looking across three institutions and their empirical records you almost assuredly will find the logic of one approach is more prevalent than the other.
This essay allows you to show me several things:
• Your understanding of the major theories and their causal mechanisms as they apply to IOs.
• Your understanding of the similarities and differences in the actual institutions in terms of their origins, institutional design, and empirical record.
• Your ability to synthesize this knowledge and present it in a tight, rigorous comparison.
• Your ability to apply this knowledge in order to support an argument.
Tips
• I am combining the liberal and constructivist elements into a larger “institutionalist” label. You
are free to incorporate any/all of the elements of both, but do not need to use them all…only
the ones you see functioning. This simplifies your task as you only need to argue between two
main approaches rather than three.
• You do not have to claim only one mechanism or theory is at work in each institution. In real
life nothing ever is totally realist, liberal, or constructivist, so just make your best assessment of what is going on in each institution. Be intellectually honest and do not try to force an IO into a mold.
• In looking for evidence to support your argument, you might draw from the origins of an IO, its
design or its actions or inactions. The origins, intentions, design, and practice of each IO may
exhibit variation in realist or institutionalist logics…it does not have to be all one.
• When you use empirics, deploy the history, do not retell it.
o I am interested to see if you understand how the historical events support or challenge analysis
and arguments, not in a summary of events.
▪ For example, in discussing the failures of the League of Nations, you do not need to retell the
story of the Manchurian Incident, but rather can say, “The tepid response of the League to the
Manchurian incursion, and Japan’s later withdrawal from the League show…”
• Leave time for editing. This essay cannot be written well in the space provided without rigorous
editing.
Details
• 1500 words maximum (does not include citations)
• Due Date: See syllabus
• Use footnotes in the Chicago “Notes and Bibliography” Style. See the following link for details:
http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide
• Cite broadly from course materials. Never cite slides unless the material there is not available
elsewhere.
• Be familiar with what constitutes plagiarism. I do not tolerate it and will punish it severely.
• Edit, edit, and edit again. Editing is the single best thing you can do to improve your essays.
Grading:
The essay will be evaluated in the following manner:
Content:
• Good essays will draw accurately and widely from our readings. You will exhibit accurate understanding
of the theories as well as the history and institutional dynamics of IOs. You will use evidence in a skillful
and historically accurate manner to support your analysis.
Organization
• Good essays will arrange information in a logical and convincing manner. Paragraphs will be
constructed and arranged in a way to effectively support the unfolding of your arguments.
Language and Citation Mechanics
• Good essays will have well-constructed prose, be free of spelling and grammatical errors, and use
citations appropriately and consistently.
“A” essays will achieve excellence in all three categories
“B” essays will competently fulfill all three categories
“C” essays will have a significant shortcoming in one category or moderate shortcomings in two categories
“D” essays will have significant shortcomings in two categories or moderate shortcomings in all categories
“F” essays will fail to engage the assignment or have major shortcomings in all areas

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