Thursday, May 26, 2011

Passed both the PhD in International Relations 'written' and 'oral' Comprehensive Examinations

The Written Part

First part: Questions for the Theories of International Relations

METU’s Professor of British School of International Relations

1. The Cambridge historian Herbert Butterfield is reported to have said: “I value every one of those fifty-two miles that separate Cambridge from Westminster” where the British government is  situated. According to a research held in the early 1990s, most members of the British International Studies Association want to advise the government. In a recent article (Review of International Studies, April 2000) Michael Nicholson asked: “What’s the use of International Relations?” to which his answer is that the immediate goal is abstract and the ultimate goal is to have some impact on the world. How would you evaluate the relations of theory/theorist (the academic discipline of International Relations to the practice/statesmen (the actual world of international relations)?

2. How would you define a theory of international relations and what is the use of it?

Bilkent’s former Chair of IR dept. and Director of the Turkish Fulbright Commission

A leading IR theorist once said that there is just one time in a scholar’s life that s/he is “closest to knowing everything” in the discipline, and that’s when writing the Ph.D. comprehensive exams. The important thing to keep in mind while writing today’s exam is that you must not only show that you “know everything” about what has been produced in IR, you must show that you know how to present your knowledge. You must present contending positions, and show that you can formulate your own position in an effective, creative, and scholarly manner. The presentation of ideas is the art of our profession. İt is your responsibility today to demonstrate your skillfulness at this art.

1. One of the current debates in Realism in general and Neo-Realism in particular, is over the so-called absence of balancing. Do you agree that there is an absence of balancing since the end of the Cold War? If yes, how should balancing theory therefore be revised? If no, what forms of balancing do you think exist, and what would they mean for balancing theory?  

2. IR scholars have increasingly come to terms with the fact that one single paradigm or theory of IR is insufficient for understanding the full nature of global politics. There have been efforts for inter-paradigm rapprochments, a particular case of which is that between Realism and Constructivism. Do you agree these two paradigms can be complementary? If so, how are they related? When combined, how could they help us deal with the major impasses in IR theorizing today? If not, discuss the shortcomings of this particular combination effort. Critically engage with these questions and illustrate with examples from current events and debates. Be sure to cite relevant literature.

Second part: Questions for the Middle Eastern Studies (major)

METU’s former Chair of IR dept. and Dean of Graduate School of Social Sciences

1. What is the relationship between the IR as a discipline and Middle East Studies as an area studies? How this relationship has evolved historically? What are the current debates?

2. Which IR theory do you think better explains regional security in the Middle East? Why?

METU’s Associate Professor in Middle Eastern Studies

1. Write an essay in which you discuss how relevant and important in your opinion are the following concepts in understanding the Middle East state system in the 2000s: sovereignty, hegemony, transnationalism, identity.

2. Ayubi writes that:  “That the Arab state is an authoritarian state and that it is so averse to democracy and resistant to its pressures should not, of course, be taken as a measure of strength of that state – indeed, quite the reverse”. Discuss this statement also by taking into account the recent developments in the region.

Third part: Questions for Nationalism (minor)

METU’s Assistant Professor in Nationalism and Religion

1. If you were to choose one question in the debates on nationalism, what would it be? Why do you think that is crucial in the study of nationalism? What are the terms of the debate on that particular question?

2. Hobsbawn argued that nationalism is no longer the historical dynamic, that is, it has no more the power it had during the period from mid-19th century to the First World War. Do you agree?

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