World Politics and Political Risk

International politics has become increasingly complex and unpredictable amidst civil conflicts, financial crises, unexpected vote results (like Brexit or Trump’s victory), the specter of terrorism and climate change. Pondering solutions to problems of global governance and trying to predict future threats is a task not only for diplomats but also for entrepreneurs. This track will present fundamental aspects of international relations; it is geared towards students who are considering careers in foreign policy, international organizations, humanitarian work, corporate communication, strategy and risk analysis.



Two decades into the 21st century, world politics has become more polarized and unpredictable than it was expected to be at the turn of the century. Democracy may seem like the main game in town, but different visions of what democracy should be about are clashing; the threat of terrorism is not going away and processes that were taken for granted, like trade liberalization, regional integration and globalization, may not be irreversible after all. Many people consider politics to be an arena of subjective judgments, self-serving rhetoric and conflicting values; but the study of politics is a social scientific field with many insights to offer to leaders, entrepreneurs, and ordinary citizens. This initial session will introduce students to the scientific study of modern politics and pave the way for the topics covered in subsequent sessions of this track.



This module aims to introduce students to some of the broad topics in international development, aid and social entrepreneurship. What does development mean? Why are some countries poor and others rich? How have different stakeholders (the state, multilateral organizations, and NGOs) addressed the challenges of development in the past, and how are they approaching these challenges now? Special attention will be given to the role of social enterprises in addressing the needs of the base of the pyramid, or the world’s poorest segment of the population. Presentations and active class discussions will help students appreciate the importance of aid, development and social entrepreneurship as solutions to the challenges of global poverty.



Project management skills are some of the most sought-after in the global labor market, whether you plan on entering the public, private, or non-profit sectors. Professionals today need a holistic understanding of the project management process, from project selection and budgeting, to implementation, to monitoring and impact assessment. This seminar will introduce students to distinct methodologies in the field of project management, and give them the necessary tools to put together a management plan for a mock project in international development.



Global challenges such as terrorism, pandemics, climate change, poverty and the increasing pace of globalization have created the need for cooperation between states, for structure and order in the international system.  But will it ever be possible for humans to live in a truly global society, where governance is ‘supranational’ rather than national? Although institutions like the European Union and the United Nations might provide hope for such a possibility, there remain significant obstacles to genuine global governance. These sessions aim to explore the successes and challenges associated with global governance and international organizations, using a combination of interactive discussions and case studies.



The European Union faces unprecedented challenges, from Brexit, to refugee migrations, to Russian expansion on its eastern flank. In the past, these types of challenges were often faced and resolved, leading to deeper integration. Will the same be true of the current era? Or will today’s challenges throw a wrench in the European integration project and lead to backsliding? These sessions, which combine a mix of lecture and simulation, will help answer these questions.



Conflict, both civil and international, is still pervasive in our world, from the Middle East to Africa, South Asia and Eastern Europe. Conflict and violence take many forms (terrorism, civil war, interstate war) and political scientists have struggled to identify common causes or common solutions. Is conflict fundamentally different in the 21st century than it was in the past? Is it driven more by economic, political or cultural causes? Are foreign interventions effective and what can the international community do to reduce conflict and promote peace? These sessions will include a conflict resolution exercise where students can try their skills at negotiation and mediation.



Climate change is one of the key political issues of our time. Though there is a scientific consensus that average global temperatures as well as atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased significantly since the pre-industrial era, there is no political agreement on how such an important change in the Earth’s climate may impact human populations or what can done about it. In fact, the debate continues worldwide concerning not only possible adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change but also regarding the phenomenon’s mere existence (particularly in one of the world’s largest polluters, the United States). In this seminar, we will seek to identify the anthropogenic activities driving climate change by analyzing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Is climate change naturally inevitable or is humanity mainly responsible for the problem? We will then look at the economic sectors that are altering the composition of the atmosphere through greenhouse gas emissions. Finally, we will look at the individual, state and global drivers of climate change and we will brainstorm about possible alternative political strategies to mitigate it such as individual behavioral change, state-level initiatives and international climate treaties.



Winston Churchill used to say that Russia “is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key”. Understanding Russia might be difficult, but ignoring her is impossible. And not only due to the wealth of its natural resources or geo-strategic position between Europe and Asia, but also because, for more than three centuries now, Russia has always had the vocation of playing a decisive role in international politics. This session aims at explaining, looking back into the past, the keys to understanding its present. It is, therefore, not a chronological parcours, but an in-depth analysis of some of the key aspects that challenge the understanding of Russia outside Russia.



To analyse the relations between countries in the 21st century we need to have as main driver international trade and the allocation of reserves. In 2018, just a few decades out of Maoism, China has become the biggest single lender of the world.  When we talk about political risk, countries as Greece or Puerto Rico come to our minds. Country risk is not something unique to emerging economies; since 11S, it has spread worldwide. The main objective of these sessions is to analyze where and who are the main players in the international arena, considering the increased role of developing economies.



Africa has been registering exponential economic growth in the last 15 years, at its peak (2010), 7 out of 10 of the fastest growing economies were from Africa. Together with burgeoning youth population in an ageing world, growing political stability and more access to education and healthcare, Africa is projected to become an important global player. However, Africa is still grappling with challenges that could derail the ongoing economic growth, such as poor governance, gender gap, energy deficit or the effects of global warming. Is Africa, therefore, designing and implementing the right policies that could curb the challenges and propel it to be a global economic and political player in the 21st Century? This session aims to offer an overview of Africa’s economic growth, political transition and social development, while at the same time, highlighting and evaluating some of the challenges that the continent faces today.



Although populism is prevalent across countries and regions, it has predominantly been studied within the confines of single cases, small N-studies or with a focus on particular party families. Yet, many puzzles regarding populism are comparative in nature. Why are populist parties more successful in some countries compared to others? What makes right-wing populism more prominent in some countries and leftwing populism more prominent in others? And what particular policy issues are attached to populism in one country vis-à-vis another – or even in one region opposed to another? In this class we will look into the most recent discussions in the area of conceptualizing and theorizing about populism and discuss pertinent country cases to gain a better understand what populist actors have in common in Europe and Latin America and where they differ.

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