First Year Program - International Relations Skip Navigation

International Relations

Director: E. Fogarty

For students interested in the study of international relations as a major or minor, Colgate offers an interdisciplinary approach to the subject. International Relations majors acquire a broad knowledge of world politics through directed study in political science, economics, diplomatic history, and language training. Students are also invited to participate in on-campus programs supported by the International Relations program.

Students interested in majoring in International Relations should begin language training and take the program’s introductory course, POSC 232 (also offered as FSEM 198), or ECON 151, or a related HIST course.  Students who have AP credit for ECON 151 must take one additional elective course. POSC 152 can offer a general introduction to international relations, but does not ordinarily count toward the IR major.

In addition to campus activities and study, students are strongly encouraged to participate in an off-campus study group for a semester. The Political Science department and International Relations program sponsor an annual study group in Geneva, Switzerland, emphasizing global governance. For more details about opportunities and requirements for this study group consult the description under Political Science. Students seeking other opportunities for off-campus study may also consider other Colgate study groups or approved programs.

Colgate University has recently established a five-year, BA+MA program with the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva that may be of interest to students pursuing International Relations. In this program, students can receive a BA from Colgate and an MA from the Graduate Institute by completing three of their final four semesters (years 4 and 5) at the Graduate Institute. For more information on this program, students may contact the program director (

Questions about the International Relations program may be directed to the director (; students should also closely consult the University Catalogue and the program’s web page.


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ECON 151, Introduction to Economics
A general introduction to the subject matter and analytical tools of economics including micro- and macroeconomic theory.

HIST 265, War and Violence in East Asia
Explores the place of war and violence in East Asian societies from 1200 to 1700. Among the many topics examined are samurai, ninja, martial arts, Ghenghis Khan, and piracy. First, students look at the internal organization of armies, their place in domestic politics and society, and their role in foreign relations. Second, they examine the impact of war on religion, economics, politics, and the arts. Third, because of its importance, violence was tightly linked to religion, literature, and popular theater. Finally, students consider the various ways that these traditions attempted to prevent, control, and manipulate violence through examining political philosophy, law codes, and social mores. (AS)

HIST 271, The First World War
Was the First World War a "tragic and unnecessary conflict," as one of its leading historians has recently suggested? Why did men continue to fight amid horror and misery? And how did total war rend the fabric of society, politics, and everyday life? To answer these and other questions, this course examines the First World War from a variety of perspectives. Attention will be paid to its origins and outbreak, its conduct by generals and common soldiers, its effect on women and workers, and its wide ranging consequences, both on individuals and empires. The course concludes with a discussion of how the First World War has shaped the world in which we live today. (TR)

POSC 216, Comparative Pol: Latin America
Today Latin America is one of the most democratic regions of the developing world, although it faces problems of inequality, gridlock, and economic growth. Latin America's 20th-century experiences of coups, revolutions, and instability also present important lessons for comparative politics. This course introduces students to the countries of Latin America and the important patterns of similarity and difference that can help them understand political development and elucidate comparative trends. Regime type is one prism through which students examine the region's countries, including democracy, semi-democracy, and various authoritarian regimes, especially bureaucratic authoritarianism. Another important topic is the United States' relationship with the region's polities, on issues like the Cold War, drug wars, and economic policies. In addition to big countries like Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela, the course also focuses on countries of particular student interest. (CO)

POSC 232, Fundmtls Int'l Relations
An introduction to the basic approaches to international relations, such as realism, idealism, and the interdependence school. Students also consider fundamental problems of national security, the uses of power, the causes of war, the nature of international institutions, the relationships among security, deterrence, conflict escalation, and nuclear proliferation. (IR)