The way that contrasting governing powers and influencing social factors relate to each other constantly shapes the world we live in. From political discourse and threats to international security, to national movements and government unifications, countless components combine and react to create an ever-shifting global landscape.
The study of International Relations seeks to make sense of this landscape. As such, many would agree that there are few subjects more relevant to the world today, and even considerably fewer may reflect on their own role as part of the wider world stage.
When thinking about International Relations, we should be aware that the events involved can have an impact on the lives of people everywhere, which only makes its study more important. Let’s look more closely at why International Relations is a subject that connects us all.
Linking nations, governments, societies – and us
Anyone who’s ever watched a news report will have an idea of the conflicts and inequalities that exist in the world today, as well as the opposing perspectives of those tasked with resolving them. Although this subject may not be directly taught in schools, we are made aware of the state of international relations in many indirect ways throughout our lives.
While it can feel like many of these issues happen at a distance, the effects of global events filter down to affect each one of us. Decisions from governing bodies, strategies made by international trade corporations and even the type of news media we choose to consume can all have a bearing on our lives, and each of these are shaped in turn by other international factors.
Brexit offers a good example of this from recent years. In the run-up to the 2016 EU Referendum in the UK there were many political, social and economic debates on both sides, with the topic of immigration as one of the key concerns both nationally and internationally. This had a great impact and influence on the UK’s vote to leave the European Union (EU), having been featured heavily in the media. While the eventual consequences of this vote remain to be seen, the countless potential effects from economic to societal, will likely reach every aspect of life in the UK as well as outside.
If and when we feel the impact of these changes on an individual level, it affects the way we think about the world around us. On the macro level, when amplified as part of wider society, our evolving opinions can resonate back up to influence national and even international policy through collective action.
A key aspect of International Relations study is understanding that nothing happens in isolation; as its name suggests, this subject examines the way international elements ‘relate’ to each other.
Tackling issues that span international borders
In its contemporary form, International Relations is increasingly concerned with approaches to issues that go beyond any single country or region, such as terrorism, pandemics and the environment. Challenges like these have the potential to affect us all, no matter where and how we live, which is why many nations are now working together and pooling resources to find ways to tackle them.
We’ve already looked at how European countries are cooperating to fight the universal threat of terrorism, but collaborative approaches to climate change offer another example. The United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015 resulted in a set of pledges known as the Paris Agreement. All but two of the world’s nations have agreed to do their part towards limiting the global temperature rise to no more than two degrees Celsius during this century, and no more than 1.5 degrees if at all possible.
Despite early setbacks, such as the United States pulling out of the agreement at the order of its current administration, this collective pledge is a landmark step towards transnational teamwork. The developing idea that all nations share responsibility for the world’s most fundamental issues reinforces that of International Relations as an academic discipline; that we are all interconnected by an infinite number of global ‘ripple effects’.
Turning a natural curiousity into a rich and rewarding career
Unlike many subjects, you do not need to have qualifications in any specific subjects to be accepted on an International Relations course. For example, to study our Online Masters in International Relations, you only need to have an undergraduate degree equivalent to a UK undergraduate honours degree 2.2 or above.
You don’t need to have the answers to the world’s problems either; simply a healthy curiosity about what’s going on behind the headlines and an eagerness to put that understanding to use. Appreciating the connections between yourself, wider society and those in power is a good place to start, and our Online MA will enable you to build on this, strengthening your learning with contextual International Relations theory and central debates. Modules such as The Rise and Fall of Hegemonic Powers: the USA, China and the Rest and The New World Order: Global Governance and International Institutions will help to demonstrate the complex interplays between the world’s superpowers and key global organisations, as well as the societies they exist to work in and for.
This thorough grasp of how various actors in the world connect, combined with other skills and topic areas covered by the Online MA, can enable you to pursue any number of fields linked to International Relations. Future developments towards a unified and interconnected world view will depend on those who can identify and understand the relationships at work on a global scale, which is exactly what studying International Relations can help you achieve.
What other achievements could be possible with our Online MA in International Relations? Discover more by requesting more information.