Is the U.S-led liberal world order, which has organized global politics since 1945, coming to an end? The last decade of international relations has been characterized, above all, by the tremendous rise of China – as well as the emergence or reemergence of a Brazil, India, and Russia, among others. But what will China’s rise mean for the world? Many have argued that such dramatic changes in the distribution of power almost inevitably leads to a clash. Others see the rising powers as reformers who have done well under the current order and wish only to adjust it at the margins. Others note that most of the tools in IR theory emerge from a limited Western experience that might not do justice to the experiences of these new powers. Does the balance of power hang in the balance, with a world war in the wings? Or can prudent policies from today’s incumbent powers foster a peaceful transition? This module should be beneficial to students interested in questions of global order, in the application of IR theory to current dynamics, and in examining the effect of rising powers on the global economic, political, and normative environment.
This module will examine the dynamics of power transitions in the international system. Many IR scholars have argued that the world is transitioning from unipolarity to a new state of greater power diffusion. This module explores different understanding of power and power transition and asks what these can tell us about the current state and future of world order. The module will explore how different states are engaging with this dynamic.