Issues in Contemporary International Relations (55+)

What does the field of international relations mean in a contemporary context? How are important issues addressed by intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations (IGOs and NGOs)?

We will begin by exploring the foundations of international relations theory, then look closely at four key areas of contemporary concern. We’ll consider international humanitarian law and the laws of war, refugees and the legal and institutional recognition of homelessness, weapons proliferation and arms control, and the challenge of climate change. Along the way, we will examine the tools available for international problem-solving, their possibilities and their limits.

Note: Back by popular demand, from fall 2019.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Vancouver 6 Lealle Ruhl $120.00 0 Join Waitlist

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should be able to do the following:

  • Describe key concepts of international relations theory
  • Give examples of the application of international law in relation to refugees, arms control and climate change
  • Discuss a variety of analytical tools used to manage abiding and emerging problems at the global level
  • Critically evaluate your role as a global citizen in navigating international relations

Learning methods

You will learn through lecture with time for questions and answers (may vary from class to class). For Liberal Arts Certificate for 55+ students: you will write a reflective essay.


Week 1: International relations

Key concepts

Week 2: Understanding and implementing the laws of war

International humanitarian law

Week 3: Recognizing refugees

The legal and institutional recognition of homelessness

Week 4: Limiting war

Exploring arms control and non-proliferation

Week 5: Looming catastrophe

The challenge of climate change

Week 6: Tools for international problem-solving

Possibilities and limits

Books, materials and resources

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

Academic integrity and student conduct

You are expected to comply with the Simon Fraser University’s Academic Integrity and Student Conduct Policies. Please click here for more details. Simon Fraser University is committed to creating a scholarly community characterized by honesty, civility, diversity, free inquiry, mutual respect, individual safety, and freedom from harassment and discrimination.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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