Use the pre-selected news articles and apply a theoretical approach or insight from those discussed in the course.
Through this assignment, you will critically apply and evaluate the theory/insight at hand for how it helps us
understand the matter under discussion. Write an individual response paper (exclusive of the
bibliography/charts/figures, both at maximum 1,500 words)
Response Paper Guidelines
The response paper should do the following:
- Present a clear thesis statement in the opening paragraph;
§ After providing a concise background of the news, state the main idea of your response paper in
one sentence. Be specific, not generic. “I argue that offensive realism can explain the trade war”
is generic; “I argue that offensive realism captures U.S. motivations in starting the trade war but
contradicts PRC responses and elides the specific timing of when it is started” can convey your
opinion and the specific aspects of the news that you want to discuss.
- Select a theoretical approach of International Relations to study in relation to a topic in international affairs
§ Choose ONE theory only: classical realism (e.g. Morgenthau), structural realism (e.g.
Waltz), defensive realism (e.g. Jervis), offensive realism (e.g. Mearsheimer), liberalism (e.g.
Moravcsik, including the three variants), neoliberal institutionalism (e.g. Keohane and Weeks),
constructivism (e.g. Wendt, Bennett and Finnemore, Hurd) OR one IR concept (security dilemma,
- Summarise the theory and present a succinct summary of the literature regarding the topic in international
§ Put some quotes from the readings and also how other theorists support those quotes. A great
way to excel in this part is to learn from how other scholars apply grand theories in explaining
their particular data (case studies, dataset etc.). Usually this would appear in review articles (e.g.
Jervis 1999), Annual Review of Political Science, Oxford Research Encyclopedias OR in some articles’
sections of regional/country-specific IR journals (e.g. you are looking at a China case, then look
at journals like Chinese Journal of International Politics or Journal of Contemporary China).
- Use primary and secondary sources beyond those used in the classroom;
§ Use also some other articles to show the development, background or other details of the issue,
which supplements the core trend of the designated news report. Also, cite from what other
analysts and scholars have said wherever necessary and relevant. You can find these details in the
- Present your own analysis of that literature, and
§ This is the MOST IMPORTANT part. State three to four theoretical predictions of the news, and
then find evidence from news articles whether it conforms or contradicts the predictions. You may
also explain that the theory is not designed to address the issues in the article (and maybe it
should?). This section means that you give a critical assessment of the theory.
- A clear conclusion and implications for policy and theory at the closing of the response paper.
§ This is to differentiate the BEST papers from good papers. If you were a policymaker, how would
you improve the situation?
§ Also, offer some critical reflections of your own:
§ Are the theories/materials we cover in class relevant for a clearer/deeper
understanding of your news article?
§ Do these theories/materials have shortcomings/problems in application?
§ You can use other theories or theoretical insights to critique your main theory