Daniel S. Masters

Associate Professor, International Relations and Comparative Politics

Department of Public and International Affairs

Team for Interdisciplinary Global Research










PLS 220:  Introduction to International Relations

The field of International relations is the study of how countries interact with each other to settle political issues. In the international system (the arena countries operate in) there is no established government, and rules for behavior are established by agreement (formal and informal) absent any central enforcement agency. Hence states operate in a condition of anarchy. Our goal in this course is to understand and explain how states act and behave in this condition of anarchy. Why does war occur and how can states (individually or collectively) prevent war? How does the rise of groups like the Anarchists (19th-20th Century) or al-Qaeda (20th-21st Century) matter to the international system of states? What is the structure and function of the international political economy? Why have some states developed? What hinders the development of other states? How does Globalization impact our classical understanding of international relations? During this semester we will explore all of these issues and more.     

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PLS 561: Comparative Public Administration

Comparative public administration emerged as a field of study centered on the development and distribution of foreign aid. Overtime, the field has evolved in many directions ranging from the study of administrative inefficiencies, policy implementation, budgeting, systems analysis and fragmentation, culture and public administration, and distributions of governmental power.  In this class we will explore a variety of subjects about the general administration of countries in a comparative perspective. The topics include (but are not limited to): Political Culture and Administration, Recruitment, Bureaucratic Structures, the Interface of Political Institutions and the Public Bureaucracy, and Public Management. In this course you will learn about a variety of theories, and then explore the application of these theories in a comparative context based on case studies that you will familiarize yourself with. In each class you must come prepared to discuss the content of the lecture as it applies to your case.   

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CMR 536: Terrorism and Counterterrorism

The terrorism and counterterrorism course is part of the international track for the graduate program in Conflict Management and Resolution (CMR). In this course you are introduced to the conflict condition referred to as “terrorism”, and the different dilemmas that countries face as they attempt to contend with terrorist problems (counterterrorism). The course is divided into two sections. The first part of this course is about problem definition, or in this case understanding terrorism. In the first part we will explore the way in which terrorism is defined for legal, policy, and research purposes. In this section we will explore the various locations of terrorism in the world, and some characteristics of countries that seem to make terrorism more or less likely. Finally we will delve into issues of terrorism strategy to uncover the variety of strategic goals terrorist pursue within their attacks and their campaigns. We will also review the lingering debate on the relative success of the terrorist strategy. The second part of the course is devoted to counterterrorism. In this section of the course we will discuss a variety of policies that different countries have used at different times to deal with terrorist problems. The policies include: decapitation, negotiation, success/failure, repression and reorientation. We will evlauate the policy logic and goals, and the history fo the method. We do not discuss success so much as utility of different methods of coutnerting terrorism.

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PLS 428:  Global Terrorism

As of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11), the world suddenly came to realize the importance of one of the world’s oldest forms of political behavior. Since Sicarii began its dedicated campaign of terrorism against the Roman occupation of Palestine, governments have been struggling with how best to manage the problem of terrorism and, if possible, to defeat terrorist threats before they can damage the credibility of a government to rule its own people. Managing terrorist threats requires students gain some knowledge into the reality of terrorism in the world. In this course, you will be exposed to the following issues in order to understand terrorism. First, understanding terrorist action, including: what is terrorism, what does the world of terrorism look like and what are the origins of dominant terrorist threats in today’s world, and the terrorist strategy. Second, understanding terrorist mobilization including: the individual terrorist, collective action, and the operational environment. Finally, we will explore counterterrorist responses, including: media and terrorism, domestic counterterrorism, international counterterrorism, and intelligence. Throughout this course you will learn about a variety of terrorist groups throughout history in order to gain understanding of the current threats we face today.

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PLS 334: Revolutionary Movements

Revolutionary movements are intriguing political events. The euphemisms used to describe the place of revolution as a political process range from “disruptive upheaval” to the “sex of politics.” In other words, revolutions are seen as a major change in a negative or creative form. It is because of the spectacular, and often unanticipated, transformation of the political system wrought by the revolution that we, as students, are attracted to the subject. Out of revolutions we observe the rise of national heroes, inspiring ideologies, and transformation of the social order. Old states die, and new states are born through revolution. This course, Revolutionary Movements, is a survey introduction to the topic of revolution. We will learn about the nature of revolution vis-à-vis other forms of social movements and political reform processes, and the different types of revolutions observed over time. In this course we will explore foundational causes of revolution, the role of revolutionary ideas from Liberalism to Marxism. This course will also explore the anatomy of a revolution to understand the source and role of leadership, mobilization, and outcomes. Throughout this course you will have the opportunity to analyze the revolutionary process in a selected case study. Your case may be one of recent revolution, ongoing revolution, or a place where revolution has failed, or not happened. This case study assignment is you opportunity to put the theories of this class into practice. While it is always difficult to predict revolution before it happens, through careful analysis we may be able to learn why a country like Egypt, that was seen as reliably stable, suddenly careened off the rails in a drawn out and dramatic revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak, and has placed the long politically exiled Muslim Brotherhood within range of dominating the reformed political system.

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PLS 424:  International Security

The tools states have to use in the conduct of foreign policy are rather limited. One traditional tool is military force. In a classical sense we think of military force as a tool used for the conduct of war. In the post-Cold War international system, states seem to think of military force as applicable in more and varied formats. Gone are the days when military force was simply gathered by states to present images of power, or used to enforce the will of the state on others. Today states use military force for limited strategic purposes and over a wide range of political issues including counterinsurgency (counterterrorism), non-proliferation, humanitarian missions, and more. This course is a survey of the evolution of military force as a foreign policy tool. We will analyze the classical perspectives on military force dating back to Napoleon and the birth of modern warfare. We analyze strategic theory, analyzing the ideas of Carl von Clausewitz and Sun Tzu. We will also evaluate concepts like strategic culture, geography, technology, and international laws to govern the use of force. The second part of the course evaluates the evolution of military force in the post-modern era (since World War II). In this section of the class we analyze the applications of military force to areas like terrorism, non-proliferation, and peacekeeping. We will discuss, at length, the rapid military development among the top tier states and its impact on the calculus of the development of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) among weaker states seeking to equalize power disparities. We will also discuss the evolving concept of “homeland security” and how this fits into or deviates from classical national security doctrine.  

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PLS 335:  European Political Systems

Europe as a region expresses many similarities in government and politics. Parliamentary systems with strong cabinets dominate the region. Strong party systems, with very fragmented multiparty systems, are common. Such political traditions deviate significantly from the American two-party dominant system, based on a presidential form of government. At the same time Europe also expresses a wide variety of diversity in its government and politics. Some states have semi-presidential systems, some have ceremonial monarchies, and some have elected ceremonial presidents. Some states have very stable majority party or party coalitions, other states have highly fractured multiparty systems with minority governments as the rule of the day. In short, Europe may express commonalities in how it differs from the U.S., but it expresses a wide variety within the region. In this course you will explore the regional politics of Europe. Our analysis of the region is driven largely by exploring the ways in which European states achieve representative government, given the variety of governing systems there are. To help drive the analysis home, you will see common examples used including: the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland, Latvia, and Italy. Moreover, to help you gain a deeper understanding of the region you will complete a series of assignments on a single European country (on an approved country list).

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PLS 336:  Russian and Post-Soviet Politics

In 1991, when the Soviet system collapsed there was a moment of hope in the West that there would be democratic transformation of the former Soviet state. However, the twin experiences of democratic transition and economic collapse has led to subtle reversals in the Russian political landscape. Today Russia is classified as a consolidated anocracy, or a political system that is institutionally inconsistent. The political system reflects democratic traits and lingering autocratic traits. There are regular elections that take place, but political competition tends to be suppressed. Political actors are multiple, but face an array of confusing regulations that limit their ability to effectively participate in the political system. The different political institutions function, but there is a question as to their autonomy from the executive branch. The executive branch is considered moderately constrained in the political system. Constraints are emerging and institutionalized, but not to the point where would consider the President to be limited by constitutional authorities and checked by other institutions.

Additionally, the 1990s seemed a time when Russia was interested and intent to join with the West to create a new global security order. This vision, in part defined George HW Bush’s declaration of a new world order. Russia truly seemed interested in integration into the Western economic and security order. By 1996 Russia began a slow backtrack to declare a position of autonomy from the world. Today Russia stands at a balance between engagement and integration into the global political and economic system, yet in doing so as an equal player with the US, the West, and China. Russia expresses clear interest to manage its local neighborhood, but not to recreate the empires of old.

In this course we will explore the development of the Russian political system through the post-Soviet collapse through Putin’s first terms in office to the tandemocracy of Medvedev-Putin, to the new Putin Administration. As we explore the Russian political system we will learn about Russian political history, culture, context, the ever evolving Russian political philosophy of government and society, and institutional arrangements and power distributions. The final part of the course explores Russian foreign policy. Here we look into Russia’s vision of itself in the world, the different players elite players in foreign policy, and try to gain insights into some of Russia’s moves vis-à-vis the US and the World.  

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PLS 338:  Political Systems of the Middle East

The Middle East is a geo-political region of the world that has been front and center of global politics for millennia. It is the region credited as the “cradle of civilization”, the birth place to politics and law. As the region with the earliest empires, the Middle East certainly contributes much to the notion of government administration. The region is also the birthplace to three of the world’s major religions making it a cultural shatter zone. The area has also been at the center of economic life as a major trade route between Europe and Asia. Today, the deposits of oil and natural gas make the region vitally important to the function of the global industrial economy. The Middle East was once host to the world’s most advanced empires (Persian, Umayyad, Abbasid, and Ottoman), and has collapsed into a region dominated by colonial empires, and the great political games of Europe and the U.S.-Soviet Cold War. The political systems that have evolved in this region during the 20th century reflect the most recent regional trends: post-colonial development, adapting to the European-base state system (in contrast to the regional state of the past), economic development in the face of global pressure for access to markets and resources. The region displays certain commonalities in the lack of stable democratic political systems and the prevalence of authoritarian governments. However, as we explore the various countries of the region you will learn that each country is struggling with efforts to preserve those elements of their tradition that brought pride and strength against the demands of modern states. The majority of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa have been developing as modern states only since World War I. The region is defined by transition mediated by the tensions of tradition. In this class you will learn about these dueling tensions and how they manifest themselves in the domestic political organization of states and more importantly in the foreign policy of states in the region.

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PLS 494: Comparative Politics Study Abroad

Spring 2013: Paris and London (Description): Forthcoming  View Syllabus,