International Relations BA

Program Purpose


International Relations is an interdisciplinary major emphasizing the systematic study of political and economic relations between governments and people in different states, as well as comparisons across different political and economic systems. International Relations students must also understand the historical and geographic basis for current international relationships. The program is designed to serve undergraduates interested in a rigorous, high-quality and demanding liberal arts degree. We value a balance of both breadth and depth. Depth comes through vertical movement in political science and economics from introductory through senior capstone courses. Breadth comes from student sampling of a variety of courses in history, geography and related disciplines as well as language courses and encouragement to fill an internship or engage in another international experience.

It is important to distinguish International Relations as a field from a more general definition of "international," which might include anything (people, language, culture, traditions, etc.) beyond the territorial boundaries of the United States. For many students interested in the broad study of anything international and foreign, BYU's IR degree will not provide the best training. In fact, no reasonable degree can include the systematic study of everything international and foreign. It should be remembered that BYU students have a wealth of other options to pursue their particular international and foreign interests. These include:

Our purpose aligns with BYU's aims and mission by enabling students to learn more about the social world beyond the United States, with an ability to understand the ways in which spiritual insights may be applied to world problems. 

Curricular Structure

MAP attached separately.

Program's Catalog Description: International relations is an interdisciplinary major emphasizing the systematic study of political and economic relations between governments and people in different states, as well as comparisons across different political and economic systems. Students majoring in international relations also come to understand the historical and geographic basis for current international relationships. 

This curriculum achieves BYU aims in several ways. With respect to intellectual enlargement, it balances breadth and depth. Depth occurs by requiring a structured sequence of classes in economics and political science from introductory through capstone courses. Breadth is achieved by requiring students to take core courses in economics, political science, math, and geography, and by allowing students to pursue additional upper-division courses in disciplines like history and anthropology. Students are also required to take a capstone seminar course where they can produce a significant research paper and integrate information from previous courses. Throughout this process, all classes integrate normative dimensions that stimulate student desires to continue to learn about the world and that help them develop positive character traits.

Major Academic Plan

Undergraduate Catalog

Learning Outcomes


Factual Knowledge

Demonstrate factual knowledge of important international trends and events related to politics, economics, geography and history.

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Human knowledge, Competence
Analyzing International Affairs

Anaylze international affairs by using theoretical concepts and ideas from more than one IR-related discipline.

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Human knowledge, Competence
Writing Effectively

Communicate effectively in writing and in speech.

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Communicate effectively, Competence
Critical and Analytical Thinking

Think critically and analytically about international problems and events, and synthesize concepts, information and experiences from different disciplines relevant to international affairs.

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Think soundly, Competence
Analysis and Research

Employ appropriate methods of analysis and research, both qualitative and quantitative, to provide sophisticated analyses and clear, logical arguments relating to important questions about international relations.

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Quantitative reasoning, Human knowledge

Evidence of Learning


Direct Measures

1. International Relations exam, given to majors and some similarly situated non majors that allows for the following three comparisons (1) IR majors at various points in their studies, (2) IR majors, tracking the same person at annual intervals in their studies, and (3) IR majors compared to non IR majors enrolled in the same class.

Indirect Measures

1. Review of various surveys of students and alumni as reported to the Kennedy Center.

 

Learning and Teaching Assessment and Improvement


The IR program is governed by an interdisciplinary faculty committee made up of about 30 faculty from 6 disciplines. In addition, one of the committee members acts as the faculty coordinator for the major. All major curriculum decisions are made by the faculty committee, which conducts most of its work by email communication. The faculty coordinator reports on the status of the major to the committee and initiates any committee discussions of curriculum changes. Most of the assessment of the major is done by the IR coordinator through competancy exams and surveys of graduates. The faculty committee reviews the results of these exams and surveys and make recommendations for needed changes. The results of the assessment work are communicated annually to all faculty affiliated with the IR major. At that time the faculty comment on the assessment results and those same results inform decisions regarding the curriculum structure of the major.