E Magazine

International Relations: A Degree In Tune With Times


Be it the terrorist attack on a mosque in New Zealand or the skirmish between Pakistan and India, events like these capture the attention of the world. In a much larger canvas, the event and what follows become a case study contributing to the academic field of International Relations. Aisha Saeed discusses how the field of IR is as relevant as it ever was.

LETTER One wonders how or why countries voice their concerns over a problem that may soon become global in its context. States function on different policies and laws. Some of these laws are for internal functioning of the state; others are of the external dealings that the states have to maintain in order to become an effective member of the international community. Be it President Trump’s tweets, or the recent Pakistan-India standoff, we are being pointed at one particular subject that offers extensive understanding of these matters in a time where we might be confused as to what is going on in the world. Since globalization has blurred the lines of isolation between states, state interactions have become common and no country can exist by isolating itself from the rest of the world. The interaction of nations or states and their dealings with the rest of the states around the world have become a discipline in its own right. The phenomena of globalization was so rapid that it influenced everything and everyone; from culture to people to states. 

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Any action taken by a certain actor in the international community will make some “cause and effect” impact on the other states, linked to it by any means. So, with changing milieus of the international community of the states, Political Science as subject has expanded into many roots, producing disciplines like international law, foreign policy and most importantly international relations. It definitely sounds intriguing but only few take up this subject at the graduate level, but back in the day, International Relations was the preferred subject of the elites and those who aspired to join the civil or foreign services. Like any other field that makes a wave among students and universities, International Relations has had its time as well. Post-Cold war, the subject might have seen its sheen diminished, but it remains relevant as ever in this day and age as well.

Back in the day, International Relations was the preferred subject of the elites and those who aspired to join the civil or foreign services

Some study it as a single introductory course, others pursue it as degree. As we are fed news 24/7, a major portion of which is dominated by political news from around the world, knowledge in the discipline of International Relations matters more than what many assume. Affairs of the world are perhaps more fluid than ever before. The theory of International Relations is a reflection of how states and the overreaching international system operates. Hence, those equipped with a degree in the subject are better able to apprehend and analyze policies and their impact at the individual, state or the systematic level. 


The Future At Stake

In an interesting perspective published in The Independent, authors Mike Sheehan and Helen Brocklehurst logically argued the need for better understanding of International relations as the future of the world depended upon it. “It was said a few years ago that if the human race is wiped out in the next 50 years it will not be because of disease or an asteroid hitting the earth, but because of foreign policy and international relations. In a world where thousands of nuclear weapons exist and more countries are trying to acquire them, where suicide terrorist strikes come without warning and thousands die each day from poverty caused by the way the international system operates, we need to know about and understand international relations.” 

Many academic experts suggest that in the coming years, a degree in liberal arts, including International Relations, will be one of the most sought after disciplines.

The overall outcome of how an international system runs, affects the situation of the world. Leaders who understand the severity that can come with one wrong decision can trigger an endless wave of consequences leading to the end of the world. With lethal weapons in the play, it has never been easier to set the world ablaze. Not only this, many academic experts suggest that in the coming years, a degree in liberal arts, including International Relations, will be one of the most sought after disciplines in 2020. One logical reason for this can be the rise in current and quick happenings in the world.  


Relevance At Home

International Relations is not a myopic subject and pairs well with cousin subjects. Pakistan is a country that is in actuality a scholar’s delight as it has regained its position in the international stage and many universities offer degrees in International Relations. Events taking place in this part of the world impinge upon theory. Given the current situation in the country and around the world, it is an exciting time to study international affairs. In his essay for Foreign Policy, Francis J Gavin says, “It’s never been a better time to study IR “. International Relations programs are better situated than other disciplines and professional programs to help us understand and develop solutions to the complex, vexing, and ever-changing array of global challenges and opportunities. IR and diplomacy are the hallmarks of a country’s functioning and will continue to be so even in the digitalized modern age (internet). Like doctors, teachers and engineers, people who study International Relations or subjects similar to these are responsible for the future government of a country. They are the architects of their countries and its standing in the world.

Our love affair with the International Relations is far from over and the reason many are studying it again is due to the growing change in world dynamics. Now, it is not only needed to become a diplomat or to clear the civil services examinations but to become an academician, political analyst, journalist, policy officer or even an intelligence officer. Different organizations require different skill sets, but if its outreach is international and involves governmental matters; having a degree in IR is considered essential; including NGOs that require aid/ developmental workers or even communication officers.If you are looking to study IR you must ensure that you are an avid reader and follower of international news. Secondly, brace yourself for critical thinking and detailed analysis on international news and complex governmental and bureaucratic norms. IR can be as interesting as any other subject of science.

Finally, the question of why study International Relations in today’s age? As Pakistan has become a regional pivot, to understand the complexities that come along with it and how the world views us, IR has the answer to many of the curiosities. The geopolitical landscape around us is changing and to help a country cope with those changes, individuals with a sound understanding of International Relations can be of tremendous value to any country, after all – countries and communities can only co-exist if peace prevails in the world and IR is perhaps the best way to go about it.

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