An Interdisciplinary Program

CIR is an interdisciplinary program. Formal distribution requirements ensure that students receive a broad analytic understanding of the political and economic dynamics of international relations. At the same time students can specialize in a subject of their own interest. The two required CIR core seminars on international relations theory and international political economy provide students not only with a coherent intellectual foundation for other coursework at the University but are also a unique opportunity to engage in critical conversation with their peers.

The CIR Curriculum is organized into four fields:

  • International Relations Theory, Security and History - centers on the defining questions of anarchy, conflict and security competition among nation states.
  • International Political Economy and Development - focuses on global economic integration and cooperation, as well as the challenges posed by the immense welfare gap between various regions of the world for international development.
  • Regional Studies and Nationalism - allows students to investigate political and social process within the context of a particular region or state. This includes processes of state-formation, expressions of nationalist sentiments, the nature of failed states and the causes of civil and ethnic strife.
  • Human Rights, Environment, and International Law - brings the prism of rights and obligations to bear on the study of international relations. Here students explore the position of the individual within the international system, study the different forms legal arrangements can take and discuss how the global ecosystem has been shaped by state competition over security and economic growth.

As part of the distribution requirements each student concentrates their studies in two of the above fields. CIR faculty and preceptors assist students in choosing classes in their fields of study from courses within the University's Social Science Division, the Booth School of Business, the Law School, and the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies. By allowing students to take nine courses during the year, the University of Chicago's quarter system provides the opportunity to take a broader array of tightly-focused courses than would be possible in institutions on the semester system.