International actors are bound by certain rules and principles in their interactions with one another. This course focuses on the creation, enforcement, and political implications of these rules and principles, collectively referred to as international law. As we'll see, international law can be messy and complicated; but it's also one of the most interesting and rewarding subjects to study. During the semester we'll look at what comprises international law and how it works, covering topics that include the nature of international law, tensions between law and sovereignty, and questions of legitimacy, relevance, and justice. We'll also examine specific legal cases, practical applications of international law, and a range of issue-areas including human rights law, humanitarian law, international criminal law, environmental law, the use of force, and management of the global economy.
I'll hold you accountable for all the information contained in this syllabus, so be sure to let me know if something isn't clear. I reserve the right to modify the syllabus as the semester progresses, but I'll consult you before making any changes that could affect your grade and announce any notable revisions in class.
When you finish this course, I hope you'll be able to:
I'll do my best to help you achieve these goals as we work our way through the semester. Toward that end, I trust you'll help me create a class environment that's conducive to learning and consistent with SUNY Oswego's non-discrimination policy. Please also keep in mind your Oswego Forward pledge to "show kindness, empathy and respect toward [yourself] and all members of the community."
This course has one required text, to which you should have ready access (in digital or print format) throughout the semester:
Your course grade will be determined by the number of points you accrue during the semester, as follows:
470-500 = A
450-469 = A-
435-449 = B+
420-434 = B
400-419 = B-
385-399 = C+
370-384 = C
350-369 = C-
335-349 = D+
320-334 = D
300-319 = D-
000-299 = E
Generally speaking, "A" quality ("outstanding") work is more well informed, thoughtfully considered, analytically sophisticated, and clearly presented than "B" quality ("above average") or "C" quality ("average") work. Outstanding written assignments should also contain only a handful of honest writing mistakes (at most) and meet relevant structural requirements (including fully proper citation formatting).
Graded assignments and point values for POL 309 are:
Requirements and expectations for each assignment will be discussed in class. Paper due dates and other information can be found on the Assignments page.
Papers must be typewritten and double-spaced, use a (single) standard font with 1-1.25" margins, include a typed word count, and contain parenthetical citations with casebook page numbers.
Questions must be typewritten and double-spaced, use a (single) standard font with 1-1.25" margins, and contain parenthetical citations with casebook page numbers (as needed).
Each written assignment must be submitted electronically in PDF format, with your surname used as the first word of your assignment file name (e.g., "Biden Paper 1.pdf"). Submit each assignment directly to me, as a PDF email attachment, via Slack Direct Message or email (sent from your "oswego.edu" address). I won't fetch files from Google Drive or accept file formats other than PDF.
Assignment submissions that don't meet stated requirements are subject to a score reduction or other penalty, to be levied at my discretion. I reserve the right to give you a zero on any late, missed, or refused assignment. Written assignments with missing or improperly formatted citations also may receive a score of zero.
As stated in SUNY Oswego's Academic Integrity Policy, "any form of academic dishonesty is a serious concern, and as such, students who are found to have violated this policy may be subject to penalties including, but not limited to, reductions of assignment grades, failure of courses, notations on official transcripts, and suspension or expulsion from the College."
By submitting your first written assignment for grading, in this class, you formally acknowledge that you fully understand the university's Academic Integrity Policy including relevant definitions, consequences, and procedures. I reserve the right to take any punitive action allowed by SUNY Oswego if you cheat, plagiarize, or otherwise engage in proscribed behavior.
I expect you to attend class, participate actively, and make any needed arrangements if you're absent. Keep in mind that participation is a graded assignment in POL 309, and (of course) you can't participate if you don't attend class. Note that you'll be held accountable for whatever occurs during class, whether or not you attend.
In the event of inclement weather, prioritize your personal safety over class attendance.
I'll email you if I can't make it to campus or we have to cancel class. If we do miss a class meeting, stay on schedule with any textbook readings and assignment deadlines (unless otherwise instructed). We'll make adjustments when we return, if needed.
Absent explicit arrangements to the contrary, cellphones, laptops, and other electronic devices should be silenced and stowed out of reach anytime class is in session.
Excepted from this rule are devices used solely to access relevant course materials for the day at hand. If you fail to use an electronic device exclusively for class purposes, I reserve the right to dismiss you from the classroom or reduce your course participation grade.
You're welcome to join the POL 309 Slack Workspace and use it throughout the semester. Joining Slack isn't required and you can achieve a perfect score in this class without ever using it, but it might lighten your workload a bit. (Among other things, you can submit written assignments and meet with me online via Slack.) Additional information will be presented in class.
SUNY Oswego is committed to enhancing the safety and security of the campus for all its members. In support of this, faculty may be required to report their knowledge of certain crimes or harassment. Reportable incidents include harassment on the basis of sex or gender prohibited by Title IX and crimes covered by the Clery Act. For more information about Title IX protections, go to https://www.oswego.edu/title-ix/ or contact the Title IX Coordinator, 405 Culkin Hall, 315-312-5604, email@example.com. For more information about the Clery Act and campus reporting, go to the University Police annual report, available at https://www.oswego.edu/police/annual-report.
Stress is a normal and important part of our human experience. However, there are times when your stress will exceed your coping skills and resources. The changes that we've experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other national and global events have impacted us all in various ways—and are expected to continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Your health and well-being are critical components in your ability to learn. If you find that you're struggling to engage and function, please reach out. Resources are available, including Counseling Services, which provides brief and confidential counseling support to enrolled students (covered by your student health fee). After-hours crisis coverage is available by calling Counseling Services at 315-312-4416 and listening to the available options. The CrisisTextLine can be accessed by texting GOT5U to 741741. Lastly, the Oz Concern Navigator is now available to point you to additional resources to help you address your concerns.
I'll assume you're doing as well as you'd like to in this class unless you tell me otherwise. If you do need some help, just let me know. I'm always glad to address any course-related questions or concerns you might have.
Feel free to stop by during office hours, catch me in class, send me an email, DM me on Slack, or give me a call. (Voicemail messages left on my office phone are forwarded to my email.)
I'm generally available from about 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM, Monday through Friday, and I regularly check email/Slack on those days. I'll respond to messages as promptly as possible; but given my schedule, I can't always respond the same day. Messages received after 2:00 PM or on a weekend day will be addressed the following business day.
I'll keep Slack open during my scheduled office hours and often other times when I'm working at my computer.
My contact information and office hours are:
If you have a disabling condition that could interfere with your ability to successfully complete this class, please contact the Office of Accessibility Resources (155 Marano Campus Center, 315.312.3358, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Complete assigned reading before coming to class on the indicated date.
Aug 23 - Course Introduction
No Reading Assignment
Aug 25 - Ch. 1. Tracing the Evolution of International Law
Aug 30 - Ch. 2. Making Law in a Decentralized System
Sep 1 - Ch. 2. Making Law in a Decentralized System
Sep 6 - Ch. 3. The Traditional Actors: States and International Organizations
Sep 8 - Ch. 3. The Traditional Actors: States and International Organizations
Sep 13 - Ch. 4. Beyond the State: The Challenge of Non-State Actors
Sep 15 - Ch. 5. International Law in the Domestic Arena
Sep 20 - Ch. 5. International Law in the Domestic Arena
Sep 22 - Ch. 5. International Law in the Domestic Arena
Sep 27 - Ch. 6. The Reach of Domestic Law in the International Arena: Jurisdiction and Its Limits
Sep 29 - Ch. 6. The Reach of Domestic Law in the International Arena: Jurisdiction and Its Limits
Oct 4 - Ch. 7. The Claims of Individuals on States: International Human Rights
Oct 6 - Ch. 7. The Claims of Individuals on States: International Human Rights
Oct 11 - Ch. 8. Mitigating the Harms of War: International Humanitarian Law
Oct 13 - Ch. 8. Mitigating the Harms of War: International Humanitarian Law
Oct 18 - Ch. 9. Individual Accountability for Violations of Human Dignity: International Criminal Law and Beyond
Oct 20 - Ch. 9. Individual Accountability for Violations of Human Dignity: International Criminal Law and Beyond
Oct 27 - Ch. 10. Responding to the First Global Commons Issue: The Law of the Sea
Nov 1 - Ch. 10. Responding to the First Global Commons Issue: The Law of the Sea
Nov 3 - Ch. 11. Protecting the International Environment
Nov 8 - Ch. 11. Protecting the International Environment
Nov 10 - Ch. 12. Managing the World Economy
Nov 15 - Ch. 13. The Use of Force
Nov 17 - Ch. 13. The Use of Force
Nov 22, 24
Nov 29 - Ch. 14. Conceptual Challenges to International Law: Legitimacy, Relevance, and Justice
Dec 1 - Ch. 14. Conceptual Challenges to International Law: Legitimacy, Relevance, and Justice