BFSU   International Relations and Security Analysis         June  2003

Jim Lindsay and Pamela Collett


Course Evaluation (includes course outline and class plans)


Part 1. Introduction and overview


Instructors’ Biographies

Because the two instructors relied extensively on their actual international experience, two brief biographies are given below.


Jim Lindsay took early retirement in 2000, after 28 years as an Australian diplomat. As a diplomat he was posted to Chile, Laos, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Pakistan, Kenya. While on posting, he had responsibility for a number of countries including Afghanistan, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia and southern Sudan. He was UN observer of elections in Mozambique,  November 1994.   He served as Australia's deputy permanent representative to United Nations Environment Program (1996-2000).


Pamela Collett has worked with international NGOs, UN agencies and local NGOs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Kenya and Uganda (1993 to present).  She gave a presentation at the NGO Forum at the 1995 UN Women's Conference in Beijing. She has worked at university and other levels of education over the past 25 years, including curriculum development and teacher training.  She has taught at the university level  at the Universidad Metropolitana, Caracas, Venezuela, the University of Canberra, Australia, the Technical Institute of Further Studies, Canberra, Australia, as well as working with both governmental and community groups in education for human development.


Course Philosophy and Methodology

The development of the course outline was based on the extensive international experience of the two instructors.  The basic approach of the course was that of a seminar, whereby students were given readings, questions, case studies and simulations as resources on a weekly basis.  In addition, current events were discussed and followed through articles on the Internet, which were then posted on the website used by the instructors for the course. Students were encouraged to do their own further research on the Internet and bring information to class or in their weekly written assignments.


The classes were designed to be participatory and interactive, with students making a major contribution to every class, both in discussion, presentation of case studies, simulations and small group activities.  The role of the instructors was more that of facilitators and resource people.  The instructors shared anecdotal information and examples from their own experience from many countries, most of which are considered to be “developing”.  


Course Resource Materials

Course materials were varied but relied on two edited texts and case studies from the Kennedy school of government, purchased on line from Harvard University in the United States.  Relevant articles were selected from the two text books: Introducing Global Issues, second edition, edited by Michael T. Snarr and D. Neil Snarr, Lynne Reinner Publishers, 2002 and The Politics of Global Governance: International Organizations in an Interdependent World, Second Edition, edited by Paul F. Diehl, Lynne Reiner Publishers 2001.  Both of these books were purchased by the instructors in the USA and brought to Beijing.  Lynne Reinner is a well known international publisher based in the USA and UK. 


The case studies from the Kennedy program in Government (web site ) were carefully chosen to emphasize international issues.  Each case study was screened to ensure that the issues were presented in a balanced manner. 


The most important single resource was the Internet.  The instructors were able to get a broad band (ADSL) line, which is approximately ten times the speed of a regular telephone line.  The ADSL was a must to enable the instructors to look for relevant materials every week for the International Relations class.  This was particularly important due to the events of the war on Iraq. 


A resource book explaining the participatory methodology in international studies would be useful for instructors with little background in this educational philosophy and approach.  One recommended book is The New International Studies Classroom: Active Teaching, Active Learning, edited by Jeffrey S. Lantis,  published by Lynne Reinner, 2000.  This book clearly explains the case study method, as well as simulations and games. 


Lesson s Learned

Dividing the original class into two sections, each taught by one of the instructors using the same materials and class plans, made it possible to conduct a highly participatory seminar.  See the section  giving the students’ evaluation of the course for more specific feedback.  Overall, the main difficulty encountered was lack of time and trying to cover too much material in too short a period.  Each of the case studies should have been at least a class in themselves.


 The other major, unforeseen obstacle, was the fact that BFSU classes were suspended for six weeks due to the SARS crisis.  We continued with the syllabus as planned but instead of class discussion only had written assignments, which was not very satisfactory in terms of the over all learning experience.  We had to suspend the presentation of two of the case studies because of lack of class meeting time.  Overall the students kept up with all of their assignments and sent them all by email during the suspension of class meetings. 


Suggestions for future courses


Use of the Internet should be more integrated into the course structure.  Almost all of the graduate students have computers; most of them have laptops. A web site should be established whereby students can post their own comments as well as suggested web site urls and materials.  The weekly sessions should be more focused on the use of the web site and the shared materials.  This would make it more interactive as well as avoid excessive photocopying.  For this approach to be effective, BFSU should look into setting up their own broadband network,  (if they have not already made plans to do so). Students noted that other universities in China have done so.


The small class size (maximum 15 students) is a requirement for the participatory, interactive method to be effective.  Fewer topics should be covered in one term.  This course could be divided by subject matter over two terms.


More time and attention should be given to the case studies.  Each case study should have a complete class period.  The simulations were effective because they were given a complete class period. Participatory learning takes time, but helps students develop the critical analysis, research and communication skills necessary to be leaders in whatever field they enter. 


Because of SARS it was not possible, but the class should be a basis for open forums and discussions on the issues being discussed in the class. The forums would be held in English.    In this way, the students could share their information, insight and online research with the larger BFSU community, working towards establishing a learning community.  It would also improve their communication skills, which are important for their future careers in any field.


Course Outline  and Class Plans

Note:  As a resource for incoming professors as well as our colleagues at BFSU, we have included our lesson plans for each session, including reading assignments and discussion questions are included on the CD submitted with this report.

BFSU                                                               March 2003

International Relations and Security Analysis Course Outline 

James Lindsay      Pamela Collett


Session 1 Introduction to International Relations and Participatory Learning


Session 2  UN Security Council: Role play on Iraq crisis


Session 3. Overview of Current Global  political situation


Session 4. Structure and Role of UN:International governance

Case study: Pinochet: International law and war crimes


Session 5. Defining Security: comprehensive definition

Case study: Afghanistan : Mujahadeen and rocket launchers


Session 6:  International Security

Simulation: Summit to Restructure the  UN Security Council


Session 7: Peace and Human Rights 

Case study: HIV/AIDs research and ethics: health, science, international drug companies  


Session 8: Peace and the UN

Case study: Somalia : UN, humanitarian crisis and peacekeeping


Session 9: International Security agreements


Session 10 Environmental Issues

Case study: Hormone beef : European Union and USA: trade, environment and consumer health


Session 11 A UN Specialised Agency United Nations Environmental Program


Session 12 : Aid and Development 

Simulation: Aid that makes sense


Session 13: Global economic institutions: World Bank, IMF


Session 14: Global Economic Institutions, Trade  and Development

Case study: Banana wars: trade, EU and USA: former colonies and WTO


Session 15: Course Evaluation


Assessment Process:

Assignments: Checked every week. Participation: every class :   

2 Reaction papers on articles of current interest:

1 Case study for a team of  2 or 3: who lead the discussion

Course evaluation: written feedback




Part II. Evaluation of the course by students

Two weeks before the end of the course, the following questions were distributed to all students. The questions were discussed in the final class meeting. Below  are some quotes  extracted from the students’ comments. 


1. How did your understanding of international relations change during this course?  What were the greatest influences in bringing about this change?



Before I attended this course, international relations in my mind was mainly about the relations among nation states and international organizations,

concerning political, military, economic issues. During this course, my understanding of international relations expanded from the official relations to

include non-governmental relations and exchanges, regarding issues of environmental protection, human rights, labor standards, etc.

First year American Studies student


From this course, I came to realize that “foreign relations” is only a small part of this complex network of “international relations”. Other than nation states, there are other important players such as various international organizations and NGOs. And their activities are shaping the world in fundamental ways.

First year American Studies student



During this course, I found my perceptions of international relations were too narrow. There are more important issues than politics, economy and wars. The role of international and regional political and financial institutions, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organizations, and the like should be carefully addressed.

Second year, American Studies student


My understanding of international relations changed in two ways: First, I realized that international relations does not only refer to the political, economical, and cultural exchanges and contacts between countries. Those issues of global concern are also an indispensable part of international relations. Second, I attached more attention to the third world countries; I began to realize that the development of those underdeveloped countries should be the top priority in international relations, thanks to the course that gives a special focus and humanitarian perspective to those marginalized African countries.

            Second year American studies student


International relations have undergone so many changes from the end of the Cold War. China is becoming a possible power in the future. In this context, it is necessary for us to have a better understanding of IR. Maybe it will do good for China in its process of integrating into the international world and become a responsible power

Second year American studies student



If I can compare international relations to a big stage and concerning parties, countries, international institutions, NGOs, etc. as actors, I should say, with the help of reading materials collected by professors and many articles on various websites, I’ve got a telescope to see the performance more clearly and even seen some actors I’ve never noticed before, although still sitting far from the stage. I see how the stronger countries have dashed on the stage and displayed themselves to the full, with little regard to the rules on the stage. I see how the weaker countries, plagued by illness, have struggled to continue the performance in the rest little space on the stage corners. Their calls for more space are often too weak to be heard. Some choose to be cheerleaders of the big powers’ performance, some try to make full use of their limited space to give a performance as good as possible, and some are shouted by the stronger actors as naughty and black sheep. I see the international institutions, as guards to maintain the order on stage, are meek and timid in face of the stronger big powers. . The stronger actors are supposed to help with the performance of the weaker ones. But their often irrelevant instructions, through the mouths of stage guards, result in even more awkward performances. There are also indispensable critics of the whole performance on stage, NGOs. But their criticisms, even though sometimes constructive, are mostly ignored or met only by lip service.


All in all, although the situation of two confronting blocs on stage has come to an end, the nature of the performances remains the same - power relations.  I think, only through the cooperation of every actor on stage can they give a splendid performance.

         First year Australian Studies student


The biggest change in my understanding of international relations after taking this course is that the concept of international relations has been very much widened.


I used to look on international relations simply as the relations between sovereign states. The actors or participants in international relations are merely the governments of different nations. But during the study in this course, especially the case studies on UN reform and NGOs, I began to realize that international organizations, either governmental or non-governmental, can also play and have played a very important role in international issues. . .


Secondly, international relations are not limited to politics. Economic, political and military contentions between different states are only part of the subject. Issues of common concern, such as human rights, globalization, environment degradation, terrorism, are all components of this subject and they are even the more important aspects of international relation.


Another factor I ignored in my understanding of international relations is Africa. Too much attention was paid to the ‘big’ players in the international community, the dominance of the super-power America, the rivalry between the West and the East, the rise of the united Europe, etc., but the poor and weak Africa where human beings originate was almost completely neglected.

         First year Australian Studies student


Before this course, I had thought that the focus of international relations should be national interest, which meant that each country fought or cooperated with each other on a selfish basis. This is what we are always educated about, so called realist thinking. I even thought that China’s involvement in global organizations was only a way of enhancing its status on the world political arena. During this course, what influenced me most is the introduction of “global governance”.

Second year American Studies student




This change was the result of in-class discussion, role-play and reading

First year American Studies student



The content of the course has been well updated and we have been encouraged all along to think critically, which has influenced my way of judging the existing world order.

First Year Australian Studies Student



I think the greatest influences in bringing about this change are: the variety of topics you brought to the class, reading materials, and many websites you encourage us to visit (sometimes class assignments propelled me to search the net for relevant information, and led us to some useful websites).

         First year American Studies student


I think what influenced me most came from my renewed view of functions of UN. Despite many problems with it, after structural reform, it will still play an important role in handling many important global issues.

     First year American Studies student 


2. How did your understanding of security change during this course?  What were the greatest influences in bringing about this change?



Talking about security, what I thought of was just national security backed by military strength. Now its implication is multiple, containing not only military

security, but also economic security, food security,cultural security, etc

            First year American Studies student


In the past, I used to define “security” primarily in terms of physical and political threats. For example, I would define “personal security” in terms of immunization from external attacks from other people, such as criminals. Likewise, my definition of “national security” used to be confined to “safety from attacks from other countries.” I was aware that there are many other threats to individuals and nations, such as environmental degradation, poverty, diseases, etc. But it was during this course that I began to take serious consideration of them as threats to “security”, both at the individual and national level.


Before this course, I tended to view security just from the political and military perspectives. However, during the course, I began to realize there are also other significant security issues such as human security, human rights, human development, environmental issues, gender issues, food security, access to clean water, poverty reduction, decent healthcare, equal opportunities for education, and many other issues are as important as politics, economy and wars.

            Second year American Studies student


Before the course, I understand security in its traditional sense, which means national security based largely upon military security. With the sessions going, not only did I come to know that security also involves economic security, environmental security, etc, but I began thinking deeply about the real meaning of security: Should it focus on national sovereignty or human security that stresses human rights? My understanding of security now focuses on human security rather than national security for I think that human rights should be the fundamental thing to be protected and promoted, and nothing, and even national sovereignty could not transgress it.

            Second year American Studies student


Before attending the course, my understanding of security was really confined to merely the military dimension. Now I know in addition to this one, there are other more important dimensions¡ªpolitical, economic, societal, environmental and human, which, altogether, constitute a comprehensive grand goal countries want to materialize in foreign and domestic affairs. In particular, the human security seems more interesting to me when I think of this SARS Crisis in China. Human security, the importance of which has long been ignored, should also enter government¡¯s top priorities. Besides, instead of regarding security as merely a domain for a particular country, now I understand that security should be common and be achieved in a cooperative approach by the international community, especially against the background of globalization.

First year Australian Studies student


To achieve security, the past top-down approach, in which government makes policies or takes actions to bring about safety for its people may not the best. A more effective and fundamental way may be the opposite direction. Only if each member of the society learn to cherish security, cherish life and the rights of both themselves and other’s, can a nation and the world reach the real and long term security.               First year Australian Student


During the course the concept of security has become much clearer and more comprehensive in my mind. Now I have realized that the three levels of security are interlocked with each other, and security has multiple aspects: economic, military, political, environmental, etc, each of which affects as well as depends on the other aspects.

First year Australian Studies student



The greatest changes in bringing about these changes are the case studies of MONOC (UN peace keepers in Congo, including Chinese delegation) and Covert Action (CIA and the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan) and the discussions on these. Other case studies also have a positive effect on these changes.  Second year American Studies student


The greatest influence in bringing about the change of my understanding of security is the multi-dimensional content of the course. In the sessions regarding Iraq War and Afghan Mujahadeen, we focused on the military security. In the case study on Pinochet, the emphasis was on international law, an important tool to ensure security. In some other sessions, the focus changed from human rights, environmental security to economic security. No matter which field we concentrated on, we were always reminded by the readings or the professor’s instructions of the interdependence between the securities of deferent levels and different aspects. That helped me a lot to gain the insight into complex international affairs.    Second year American Studies student


. The content of the course has been well updated and we have been encouraged all along to think critically, which has influenced my way of judging the existing world order.

    First year Australian Studies student


3. What did you like best about the course?


What I like best about this course is  the reaction paper, in-class discussion and role-play, especially the UN role-play and the brainstorming about civil society. In-class discussion offered us the opportunity to share others idea, and role-play

deepened our understanding. Reaction paper stimulated us to think independently and critically for ourselves and question and challenge the author. Everyone had different view and answer.

         First year American Studies student


I like the variety of topics you brought to our attention, although it sometimes forced us to have very general discussions on each one. The UN simulation exercise and the WTO role-play are very interesting. In particular, I would like to thank you for providing the useful case study materials.

         First year American Studies student


I like best class activities like role play, simulation, debate and case study, for they really set us thinking and searching for helpful materials.  First year American Studies student


What I like the course best is the framework, the content and the format of the course. This course is framed from a broad perspective about international relations and international security, that is, from the perspective of United Nations. Then the course narrows down to some specific security issues in international relations. The guidance for reading and discussion in the theory part of each session provides me some background information about each specific topic. The case study material in each session helps me with a deeper understanding of the relevant issue. The assigned study questions help me to think more carefully about the relevant issues and the class discussions make my understanding of the related issues much clearer and further cultivate my creative thinking and analysis. Thanks to the framework, the content and the format of this course, I enjoyed this course very much.             Second year American Studies student


I like the case study best. The topics you select for us are very representative and the way the author illustrates the whole events is very impressing: he just impartially presents those different ideas and let us to form our own understanding. All the other reading materials are very interesting and comprehensive because they reflect different comments on a single issue. I also like the class discussion and the way you direct it, which ensures everybody a voice in the discussion. It is such a pleasure to share ideas with all the classmates and you. The website you set up for us is also a good idea.

            First year Australian Studies student


I like most the class discussions, case study and simulation of the UN.  I am especially impressed by Prof. Lindsay’s choice of the case studies because those case studies are so comprehensive and representative of different aspects of international relations and security studies.  The simulation of the UN is unforgettable.  Through that simulation we practice English, enhance our negotiating skills and increase our knowledge.

First year American studies student.


I like the way the course is conducted; it is a forum for us to exchange our views freely and we can share as well as disagree over any point. In this process we see the sparkling of ideas and intelligence, and get our understandings deeper. I also like the course for it always encourages us to think and to be critical bout everything, even the established and those taken for granted. I think it teaches me to think critically rather than specific knowledge. More important, it teaches me to view the world with a humanistic view, and always attach primary importance to human development rather than economic development.


As for the class arrangement, I like the simulation of US Security Council, which we carried out twice, one on the issue of War on Iraq, another about the restructuring of UN Security Council. I was deeply impressed by the two courses; it was a valuable learning experience to check out the views held by that country and think about that, and it was exciting to present our own views representing a country.


 Second year American Studies student


What I like best about the course is the seminar on Wednesdays during which we can exchange our ideas and get to know each other better. I remembered that Prof. Collett asked us why we were together in the classroom. It was for better communication between different people, for better understanding of each other, for a better future of the world, for a better future of women in the world as a whole. . . We, as individuals, can change the world where we live in with others. As long as we keep working in a down-to-the-earth way, the world will have a better future. Understanding and communication is very important. Good communication will bring cooperation, so in this sense, what Prof. Collett is doing has more meaning  than it appears.   

Second year American studies student



I like the organization of the course best. The assignments before each class meeting encouraged us to think the topics seriously and the discussion and debate during the class meetings deepened our thinking and sometimes brought us completely new ideas.

            Second year American Studies student


What I like best includes discussion of the NGOs’ roles in the international affairs, case studies and the immediate follow-ups to this year’s international events. Through taking the course I have had a better understanding of the functions and the working methods of NGOs. I have come to know that NGOs, as civil society actors are not limited to function as organizations providing aid and assistance; they can play an important role as representatives of the people and voice their interests in the national and international forums. The improved understanding is of great help to our project regarding Australian NGOs in China.


The case studies are true political stories. They are so interesting that I always swallow the whole reading at a stretch to see what happened later and what the ending was like. But almost all stories have no ending: they are political events still going on in the world. To say they are political because I believe though they seem to be international events in a certain aspect, they are all related to the competition of power between states.


I also enjoy the articles and discussions regarding current international events that have attracted a lot of our attention, such as Iraq Wars, SARS, G8 summit, etc. I’ve become to understand what I have learned from the course is both theoretical and practical, and what matters most is how to apply the theories to practice and how to put critical thinking into the complicated world situation.

 First year Australian Studies student



There are many reasons for me to love this course.

First of all, I like the idea sharing character of this course. Communication is always very important no matter in our everyday life, study or work. Only through exchanging ideas and opinions with other people, can we have better understanding of things-- the meaning of life, the essence of the case in study, and the more efficient way of working etc. The discussions in this course help us to keep our mind open as well as to be critical of everything we see or hear.


Case study is another exiting part of this course. It not only brought fun to and aroused our interest in this course, more importantly, the cases gave us a real feeling of how sovereign states interact with each other, how the different groups and interests influence international relations.


Having our own website for the course is also very helpful. Through it we can share interesting information relevant or beyond our course and the thoughts and comments we didn’t have chance to exchange in class.

First year Australian Studies student



This course provided us with materials and ideas which we did not have sufficient knowledge of. In the past semesters, the focus of our study has been on politics. We had always tended to analyze international relations and foreign affairs in terms of realist ideas. Little attention had been given to such issues as human rights, environment, poverty and debt problem in the third world. This term, the course of international relations and security analysis has offered us plenty of materials in those areas, which shed a light of humanitarian care on this supposedly cold subject. 

     Second year American Studies student



I am very interested in your experience in the Foreign Affairs Department and like to share your interesting experience. Anyway, I’ve learned a lot from this course.

First year American Studies student


It’s hard for me to choose from a pool of pearls the brightest one.  I like this course very much.  Personally, I think three ingredients contribute most to this well-crafted course. First and foremost, the designing of the course is perfect in that it almost includes all the most important areas in the IR and IS fields. The well-chosen materials which include both case studies and theories plus the professor’s enlightening lectures really do me a lot of good.  Secondly, the simulation of some international meetings, such as UN Security Council, forces us to apply what we learned into practice, which further deepens our understanding of the theory.  Last, but not least, the presentation that was required of each participant forced us to do some more research on this subject and come up with a script also helps us most.

First year American studies student


Making case studies of International Relations improved our ability to analyze and solve problems.  We could come up with something new.  Arranging the course like a seminar helped me improve my oral English on the one hand, encouraged me to make quick response on the other hand. 

            First year American Studies student.


4. What did you like least about the course?


I think some questions in the assignment just tested us comprehension. Actually, I think we have good comprehension ability and there is no need just

to find the answer and paraphrase, which produce the same answer.  

First year American studies student


This is the downside of the advantage I listed above, which is: we try to cover too many topics in one session that our discussion did not go very deep.

First year American Studies student


The SARS epidemic deprived me of class discussions. Fortunately, with the help of Prof.Collet and Prof. Lindsay, we finally had our class outside the campus and thus reduced my loss in this course.

Second year American Studies student


We have to cancel those face- to- face discussions because of SARS.

First year Australian Studies student


If there were not the SARS outbreak in Beijing, I would have learned more. So, what I like least, or I hate most, is the missed discussions with classmates and Prof. Collett.

            Second year American Studies student


I think there was not sufficient time for the discussion about case studies which actually would have been more interesting.

 First year Australian Studies student


When I first took the course I complained a little about the form of assignments. Though the reading was not much, we needed to spend extra time in writing every week, especially writing in our own words. But later on I began to enjoy the time-consuming work, for it gave me a chance to listen to my own ideas, which were often hidden behind the reading stuff in the past. And I think that my ability of analytical thinking has really been improved following the procedure of reading, writing and discussing every week.

First year Australian Studies Student


The most regretful thing was that we missed so many classes because of the SARS, so that we couldn’t share our ideas and opinions on issues at study.

            First year Australian Studies student


5. What would be your recommendations to improve the course in the future? 


It’s a pity that we didn’t take a more active role in the web site. If the students put more of their own thoughts or information they come across onto the website, we’d make a better use of it.

First year Australian Studies student



Case study is a very good way of learning, but if we can have some classes on methodology in international relations and social science in the first few sessions of the course, we may be better prepared to analyze and criticize and thus have a better and deeper understanding of the cases and international relations at large.

It’ll be wonderful if some documentary videos on international issues are shown in class. They may provide us a more vivid picture of the actors/actresses in international relations and their actions in the international community.

First year Australian Studies Student



I think it would be better if you divide the course into fewer but more general sessions. For example, a general introduction; international organizations; peace and human rights; environmental issues; aid and development, etc. More class hours could be devoted to each session so that more in-depth discussions could be held.


In addition, I would propose to have more simulation practices in class.  Case studies  are very useful.         First year American Studies student


I have two recommendations. First, in many cases, some materials can be got in the Internet, but they are passed out in hard copies. Most of us have our own computers or notebook computers. It is unnecessary to photocopy all these materials which are available through the Internet. Second, more attention should be paid to the role of the five permanent members of the Security Council in this course. 

                        Second year American Studies student


Perhaps the reading materials can be reduced a little so as to leave students some time to find information on that issue they might consider quite interesting through any channels. It’ll be a more active learning process. And they can bring their new findings to class to share with classmates. Since students might have different findings, there may be more interesting and diversified topics in class discussion rather than that everyone’s reading the same materials.

First year Australian studies student


The greenmango website is a wonderful place where teachers and students may meet with equal status online, but I think the interaction is not enough. Students may take pleasure if evaluation and comments can be typed below the articles and students’ assignments posted online. In this way, instant feedback can be encouraged. We enjoy the online pictures very much and wish more would be posted.                               First year Australian studies student


I did discuss in my spare time with some of my classmate about what else we need in this course. Since the September 11th terrorist attack, international relations have gone through great changes. Anti-terrorism has become one of the important issues in international relations. Many countries are also making a lot of fuss about domestic dissidents under the name of anti-terrorism. So I think we need to know about how terrorism evolved into being and to get a clearer definition of it.

Second year American Studies student