According to Olisa Ekwueme, “International Relations represents the totality of all interactions and relations between states or formal and informal agents of the states in the international system. From this definition, International Relations can simply be said to be about war and peace, conflict and cooperation, wealth and poverty, power and change, and understanding patterms of behaviour between the actor — from states, to presidents (formal agents), to corporations (informal agents).
International Relations touch our lives daily as global markets, the World Wide Web, foreign food,music, dress and language, as well as foreign travel represent a flood of people, products and ideas across national borders.
Both the problems and the prospects of the state are beyond the ability of any one state, no matter how powerful, to address alone. But truly global problems — global warming, economic instability, refugee relief, ethnic violence, international debt and nuclear proliferation, require cooperation and coordination, which is not easy in a world of contrasting cultures, differing political systems and competitive nation states.
In the past, only a few cared to study these processes and their conflicting effects or to understand the special forces that surround efforts to shape the character of interaction that cross national borders. But International Relations is no longer a remote abstraction the people can afford to ignore.
So What Are The Significance Of Studying International Relations In The University?
Today’s world is the product of diverse global forces that are historical, political, economic, military and social in nature. These same forces will shape the world we inhabit in thd future — and our knowledge of them will determine our place within that world. It follows that a systematic understanding of these forces, often termed “World Politics”, must be interdisciplinary in approach. So, the study of IR in the university is to provide students with the opportunity to investigate these themes.
Because the sovereign state is the principal agent in world politics, the study of IR in tertiary institution emphasizes themes from political science, but students would also be exposed to knowledge from History, Economics, Sociology, Anthropology an Philosophy as well.
The study of IR in the university can be organised within either geographical or theoretical categories. The approach described by the term “area studies” focuses on the foreign policies of individual nations and the international system that result within geographical regions. Students of IR in Africa, for instance, study African political and economic systems, in addition with the culture, language and society of the region.
To be continued