Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Think Tanks and International Relations - Shanghai University Graduate Class - Spring 2021


Spring – 2021

Course Website:


Instructor: Tugrul Keskin             

Office:   College of Liberal Arts                

E-mail:  or WeChat: tugrulkeskin


“I know where a lot of them [the elite or elitists] live.  Where's that?  Well, in our nation's capital and New York City. I've seen it. I've lived there.” ― John McCain (An American politician and military officer, who served as a United States senator for Arizona from January 1987 to 2018)


Of the many influences on the US foreign policy formulation, the role of think tanks is among the most important and appreciated. - Richard N. Haass (The current president of CFR and a former Director of Policy and Planning - U.S. Department of State)    


Course Description and Objective:

In this course, we will examine the emergence and development of think tanks from a comparative perspective. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the concept of the modern state emerged out of the growth of capitalism and industrialization and led to the creation of a complex bureaucracy and an interconnected social, political and economic environment within the global political arena.  However, WWI and II gave birth to the UN (originally the League of Nations) as a venue for negotiation between nation-states in the international arena in order to prevent political conflicts.


Particularly after the 1929 economic crisis, and the move from Keynesian capitalism to the neoliberal era in the second half of the 20th century, we started to see the materialization of political institutions above and beyond the state bureaucracy. The result was the Washington Consensus, which created the World Bank and the IMF. Over the next half-century, the world economic community was dominated by the policies of these institutions. In the 1950s, we also saw the birth of the European Union as a new political actor within world politics. This led to the rise of regional economic, political and cultural competition over economic resources.



Think tanks (semi-governmental institutions) are the other important economic and political actors within and between the modern nation-state. We will review the concept of the nation-state in this class. The emergence of think tanks or policy institutes dates back to the time of imperial Britain. These institutions were affiliated with security studies at the beginning stages of their emergence because they support the colonial dream of imperialism; however, this has changed slightly with the establishment of American think tanks and the rise of the US as a global power. Hence, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1910), the Brookings Institute (1916), the Hoover Institution (1919), The Century Foundation (1919), the Council on Foreign Relations (1921) and the Rand Corporation (1946) were all founded in the first half of the 20th century. They were, and still are affiliated with the security establishment of the US. However, these organizations started to play a more effective role within domestic politics in the second half of the 20th century, because of the rise of the neoliberal economy. Less Keynesianism in the modern American Economy led to an increase in the power and number of these policy-oriented institutions, and they expanded to the social and economic field within the US. As a result, the Heritage Foundation (1973) and Cato Institute (1974) were established. However, the power of think tanks did not become apparent until the first half of the 1980s. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, think tank politics began to dominate the American political landscape inside the beltway, taking on issues like drug policy to immigration, foreign policy and health care. This power led to considerable attention from American corporations. As a result of this trend, many more think tanks were established, and some changed their structures to collaborate with and meet the needs of corporations. Private funding has poured into these policy institutions ever since, and the term, ‘inside the beltway politics,’ coined in the 1980s and popularized in the 1990s, describes these circumstances. Today, the power and role of think tanks cannot be ignored, and should be studied academically from the standpoint of their origins, particularly their domestic and now international political usage.


We will also study the emergence, development and role of think-tanks in China, UK, Germany, Turkey, Israel, Australia and think-tanks in Latin America and Africa.           

Monday, September 7, 2020

Technology and International Relations Graduate Class – Fall 2020 - SHANGHAI UNIVERSITY

 Technology and International Relations

Graduate Class – Fall 2020




Instructor: Tugrul Keskin             

Office:   College of Liberal Arts                

Cell: 86+15000-465734

Office Hours: Thursday 1:00 – 4:00 PM or by appointment

E-mail: or WeChat: tugrulkeskin


If the government regulates against use of drones or stem cells or artificial intelligence, all that means is that the work and the research leave the borders of that country and go someplace else.

Peter Diamandis

Modern technology has become a total phenomenon for civilization, the defining force of a new social order in which efficiency is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity.

Jacques Ellul

Course Description and Objective

The focus of this course is Technology and International Relations. As a result of the modern economic system, a modern state was created with modern institutions, such as state bureaucracy, modern military, foreign ministries, intelligence services, police, etc. However, the modern economic system also produced modern private institutions, such as companies, think tanks, NGOs, international organizations, foundations, etc. Hence society and the individual have changed over time, becoming more educated, traveling more, working more, and becoming more selfish and more consumption oriented.


On the other hand, in this process of transformation from traditional work to more automated dehumanized work, everything we do is recorded, watched, and observed by state or private institutions for security or consumption purposes. In the late 18th century, the invention of the steamship engine changed the basic dynamics of social and political structures; therefore, we started to see the new society based in the urban areas. The emergence of the modern state or nation-state was generated from this process of the new economy.

In the beginning of the 20th century, Ford’s assembly line and Taylor’s organizational management revolutionized state and society in a different direction than the invention of the steamship engine. Modern state structure started to form and coincided with interests of the upper-class bourgeoisie. As a result, we became citizens unlike before, modern parliamentary democracy took shape; we witnessed two World Wars directly related with technological advancement in the military; in 1950s, people or citizens started to ask for more democracy and freedom. The United Nations was established with the shared common destiny for all who live on this planet. However, in the early 1990s, the IT industry began to revolutionize how companies and states operate vis-à-vis with political structure and citizens. Security studies started to emerge as a part of International Relations with conservative tendencies. Facebook, Google, Twitter, Wechat, Alipay, credit card system, and digital footprint system began to dominate domestic as well as international politics. This new technological advancement has changed our lives as citizens of a state, whether you live in the United States or China. Everything we buy online is recorded by a company for marketing purposes to sell more. The companies created massive databases for targeting costumers, whereas a state started to use AI or IT innovations for its own security in intelligence, police, foreign relations, terrorism, etc. In the early 2000s, Boston dynamics began to develop a military robot for U.S. military by using AI, which is very similar to Russian and Chinese state-owned companies. These new changes will definitely have an impact on our society, democracy, freedom, and social life.  

One of the most important changes will take place in International Relations. In this class, we attempt to understand what changes might take place. What would be the negative or beneficial consequences for using artificial intelligence in the 21st century? Who will be affected? Who will use AI in international relations and why? How long have we been using AI in IR? This is a new topic; we do not have the answer yet, but we will try to understand how AI revolutionizes state-to-state relations in terms of IR.


Monday, June 8, 2020

WEBINAR: The “Purple Revolution:” U.S. Hybrid Warfare Coming Home To Roost? Cynthia McKinney

The “Purple Revolution:”
U.S. Hybrid Warfare Coming Home To Roost?

Cynthia McKinney

DATE: Thursday June 11, 2020
TIME: 20:00 22:00 PM (Shanghai time) #ShanghaiUniversity

Cynthia McKinney (PhD) is an American politician and activist who is an assistant professor at North South University, Bangladesh. As a member of the Democratic Party, she served six terms in the United States House of Representatives. She was the first black woman elected to represent Georgia in the House. She left the Democratic Party and ran in 2008 as the presidential candidate of the Green Party of the United States.
Meeting ID: 632 8343 2395

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

A New Course: American Society and Politics: From Cold War to Present - Shanghai University Fall 2020

Course Description and Objective:

The focus of this course is the American society and politics in the 20th century. In order to understand transformations taking place in the American society and politics today, we need to explore and examine the social, political and economic underpinnings of the past. Today’s paradigms were created in relation to specific events in the past, and now fuel current events. At the beginning of the 20st century, a modern American state and society emerged as a result of industrialization; car manufacturing and assembly line were developed. Car manufacturing and steel industry fueled the domestic migration, and modern American industrial cities were born, such as Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh, etc. This transformation was very similar to what happened in Europe in the 1800s. 
Rapid economic development created unintended consequences, such as 1929 Great Depression which led the changes in American Social structure as we see in the John Steinbeck famous novel, The Grapes of Wrath. Hence, Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced A New Deal economic recovery project. While Europe was burning with Nazism, US developed and recovered its economic depression less than ten years, and defeated Nazi Germany in the WW II. This was the beginning stage of American “Century.” However, another important political actor started to be seen in the world politics and this was Soviet Union. Between 1945 and 1989, the world faced unprecedented challenges; basically, economic, social and political competition between USA and USSR changed and transformed the American Society and politics substantially. Both countries re-arranged and re-structured their economic and social policies based on the Cold War Politics. US entered the Vietnam War, left by French Colonialism; and democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh was overthrown by US led coup in Iran, very similar to US supported military coups in Guatemala and Albania. Military industrial complex was born under these circumstances. In the 1960s, social and political unrest exploded across the US cities against racism and Vietnam War. At the end of 1980s, the world witnessed collapse of USSR. Therefore, between 1992 and 2000, under the Clinton administration, US economy, society and politics had been more relax than before and after. However, emergence of tech industry and internationalization of commodity chains had changed American economy forever. American companies started to invest in a country where there was a cheaper labor and outsourced their local jobs. American small towns immediately were affected by these economic changes. Direct social result was the re-creation of Evangelical Christianity in across America. Politics and society have moved towards more conservative direction. In meantime, ethnic and economic lobbies started to hijacked American domestic and foreign policies. In this class, we will review and try to understand these changes. 

Required Reading:
1.     American Politics and Society. David McKay. Wiley, 2012.

Recommended Readings:
1.     Who Rules America: Wealth, Income, and Power By G. William Domhoff
2.     Bowling Alone:The Collapse and Revival of American Community By ROBERT D. PUTNAM
3.     The Power Elite By C. Wright Mills
5.     American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass By Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton
6.     History of the American Economy By Gary M. Walton and Hugh Rockoff
7.     Principles and Practice of American Politics Classic and Contemporary Readings by Samuel Kernell and Steven S. Smith
8.     American Politics Today by William T Bianco and David T Canon
10.  Welcome to Operation Dixie, the most ambitious unionization attempt in the U.S.
11.  The History of the Defense Production Act and What it Means for COVID-19
12.  The Defense Production Act of 1950: History, Authorities, and Considerations for Congress

  1. Americanah By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. The New Jim Crow By Michelle Alexander
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian By Sherman Alexie
  4. Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom By Ryan T. Anderson
  5. The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism By Edward Baptist
  6. Taking Rites Seriously: Law, Politics, and the Reasonableness of Faith By Francis Beckwith
  7. The Coming By Daniel Black
  8. The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism By Pascal Bruckner
  9. Between the World and Me By Ta-Nehisi Coates
  10. Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics By Cathy Cohen
  11. Evicted By Matthew Desmond
  12. Roads to Dominion: Right Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States By Sara Diamond
  13. Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America By Tamara Draut
  14. Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America
    By Martin Gilens
  15. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
    By Jonathan Haidt
  16. The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements By Eric Hoffer
  17. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
    By Arlie Russell Hochschild
  18. In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men, and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in the 20th Century By Alice Kessler-Harris
  19. The Fractured Republic: Renewing America's Social Contract in the Age of Individualism By Yuval Levin (2)
  20. The Possessive Investment in Whiteness By George Lipsitz
  21. Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class By Ian Haney López
  22. A Canticle for Leibowitz By Walter Miller
  23. Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 By Charles Murray
  24. Dreams From My Father By Barack Obama
  25. The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America By George Packer
  26. Citizen: An American Lyric By Claudia Rankine
  27. Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty By Dorothy Roberts
  28. The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown By Paul Taylor
  29. Because of Sex: One Law, 10 Cases and 50 Years That Changed American Women’s Lives at Work By Gillian Thomas
  30. Habibi By Craig Thompson
  31. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!By Mo Willems
  32. American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America By Colin Woodard

1.     The Century: America's Time - 1914-1919: Shell Shock
2.     The Century: America's Time - 1920-1929: Boom To Bust
3.     The Century: America's Time - 1929-1936: Stormy Weather
4.     The Century: America's Time - 1936-1941: Over The Edge
5.     The Century: America's Time - 1941-1945: Civilians At War
6.     The Century: America's Time - 1946-1952: Best Years
7.     The Century: America's Time - 1953-1960: Happy Daze
8.     The Century: America's Time - 1960-1964: Poisoned Dreams
9.     The Century: America's Time - 1965-1970: Unpinned
10.  The Century: America's Time - 1971-1975: Approaching the Apocalypse
11.  The Century: America's Time - 1976-1980: Starting Over
13.  The Century: America's Time - The 90s And Beyond: Then And Now


The Godfather (1972)
Citizen Kane (1941) 
The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 
Forrest Gump (1994)
Gone With the Wind (1939)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Apocalypse Now (1979) 
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) 
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) 
Fargo (1996)
American Beauty (1999)
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) 
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Fight Club (1999)
Alien (1979)
The Matrix (1999) 
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Rear Window (1954) The Usual Suspects (1995)
The Dark Knight (2008)
West Side Story (1961)
North by Northwest (1959)
Mary Poppins (1964)
All the President's Men (1976)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
12 Angry Men (1957)
On the Waterfront (1954)
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
Burn After Reading (2008)
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
The Color Purple (1985)
American History X (1998)
The Good Shepherd (2006)
Mississippi Burning (1988)
The Truman Show (1998)

Pleasantville (1996)

TV Series:
1.     Frontier | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix
2.     Ozark (2017) Netflix
3.     DAMNATION Season 1 Official Trailer (HD) USA Network Western Series
4.     DEADWOOD Official Season 1 Classic Trailer (HD) Ian Mcshane Drama Series
5.     Hell on Wheels (2011) - Trailer - Trailers clips -
6.     Sons of Liberty - Intro Theme [Hans Zimmer]
7.     Saints & Strangers Trailer | National Geographic
8.     Hidden Figures | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX

Websites and Projects:
1.     The Census Bureau -
2. | Library of Congress
3.     United States Congress
4.     United States Senate
5.     Pew Research Center
6.     United States Department of Justice
8.     The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute

Course Requirements

To prevent confusion later, please read the following information carefully:

Grades: Your grade for this course will be based on your performance in the following categories, shown below with their dates and respective weights.

Item                                                                  Date                                      Weight (%)

Quizzes (5 Quiz)                                                                                                       60.0
Final Paper/Movie Critique:                                                                                   30.0
Attendance/ Class Participation                                                                              10.0    

Quizzes: You will have 5 quizzes. The quizzes will have 12 questions from each week’s class readings and discussions. Each Quiz is worth 12 points and each question is worth 1 point. You will find the schedule of quizzes below. Please carefully review the quiz schedule. If you have schedule conflict, drop the class. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.      

Final Paper/Movie Critique: You will select a movie based on American Politics and Society, and will write a movie review, based on our class topics (Chapters in the book). We must approve your final movie proposal first. Each student must select a different movie, so it is important to clear your topic with us as soon as possible. For your final paper, we created a sample format, which you will receive it by email. Follow the sample format, and answer the questions clearly!

The final paper must be at least 2000 words. The last day to submit your final paper is Sunday………………..
CRITERIA:        If you select your movie after the third week you will lose 3 points!
                            If your paper is late, you will lose another 4 points!
                            If your final paper is less then 2000 words, you will lose 5 points!  

Participation/Attendance: Each student must read the course materials before they attend class, and I expect them to participate in class discussion. Regular class attendance is one of the most important parameters to successful completion of the course requirements. If you find interesting articles, books, videos, or other sources that pertain to the class topics and discussion, please share them with me and with your classmates. This can count towards your class participation score.

Course Timeline

First Week

·      Introduction to Course and overview syllabus
·      Background of 20th century Politics and Society
·      What is Cold War?
·      Chapter 1 Government and the People in a Polarized Society
o   The Chapters to Come 
·      Chapter 2 Beliefs, Values and American Society
o   The Nature of American Beliefs and Values
o   Values and American Society
o   Social Structure

Second Week

·      Chapter 3 Constitutional Government
o   Origins
o   The American Constitution
o   Ratification
o   The Adaptive Constitution
o   Assessing the Constitution
·      Chapter 4 Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations
o   Federalism in Theory and Practice
o   The Evolution of American Federalism
o   The Changing Federal Role
o   A Changing Court Role?
o   The Future of American Federalism

Third Week

·  Chapter 5 American Political Parties in Transition
o   The Functions of Parties
o   Crisis and Change in the American Party System
o   The Decline and Rise of Political Parties
o   Changing Party Ideology: 1970–2010 102
o   Explaining Party Change
o   Political Parties Redux
·  Chapter 6 Elections and Political Participation
o   Patterns of American Electoral Behaviour
o   The ‘American Voter’ Model and the New Deal Coalition
o   The Decline of the New Deal Coalition and the Rise of a Divided Electorate
o   Non-Electoral Political Participation

Quiz – 1

Fourth Week

·  Chapter 7 The Media and American Politics
o   Media Structure and Organization
o   Organization and Ownership
o   How Biased? The Media and the Political Agenda
o   Controlling the Media
o   The Media and American Democracy
·  Chapter 8 Congress I: The People’s Branch? 
o   Representation and Congress
o   Congressional Elections
o   Legislators as Rational Actors
o   The Work of Member of Congress
o   Conclusions

Fifth Week

·  Chapter 9 Congress II: Functions and Powers – The Broken Branch?
o   The Functions of Congress
o   The Structure of Power in Congress
o   Congress Under Fire
o   Reform and Change in Congress
o   Is Congress the Broken ‘Branch’?
·  Chapter 10 The Presidency I: Powers and Selection
o   Formal Sources of Power
o   Informal Powers
o   Presidential Selection
o   Presidential Selection: Faults and Foibles

Quiz – 2

Sixth Week

·  Chapter 11 The Presidency II: The President as Chief Executive
o   The Presidency in a Changing America
o   Presidential Abuse of Power and the Congressional Response
o   Presidential Resources
o   Assessing the Presidency: Presidential Power at Home and Abroad
·  Chapter 12 Bureaucratic Power: Federal Departments and Agencies
o   The Federal Bureaucracy: Organization and Function
o   The Bureaucracy: How Uncontrollable?
o   The Inherent Power of Bureaucracy
o   The Bureaucratic Hydra: A Uniquely American Phenomenon?
o   Reform Attempts
o   Concluding Remarks

Seventh Week

·  Chapter 13 The Security State 
o   The Rise of the Security State 
o   9/11, the Patriot Act, and the Department of Homeland Security
o   Threats to Civil Liberties
o   The Security State and American Values
·  Chapter 14 Organized Interests: The Real Power?
o   Interests, Groups and Lobbyists
o   Economic Groups
o   Professional Groups
o   Promotional Groups
o   Political Action Committees
o   The Washington Lobby
o   Interest Groups: For and Against

Quiz – 3

Eighth Week

·  Chapter 15 The Supreme Court and Judicial Politics
o   The American Legal System
o   The Supreme Court: Decision-Making
o   The Supreme Court and Political Power
o   The Polarized and Activist Rehnquist and Roberts Courts
o   Conclusions: The Court and American Democracy
·  Chapter 16 Regulating Morality: Civil Rights, Liberties and the Conscience Issues 
o   Introduction
o   Regulating Public Morality
o   Civil Liberties 352 Equality and Civil Rights
o   Conclusions

Ninth Week

·  Chapter 17 Social Policy in America: Self-Reliance and State Dependence
o   The Federal Government and Social Welfare in America: The Reluctant Provider
o   Federalism
o   Social Security, Medicare and the Electoral Connection
o   The Continuing Importance of Self-Reliance
o   Health-Care Reforms
o   The Federal Government and Education
o   Conclusions 
·  Chapter 18 Managing Economic Change
o   State and Economy in the United States
o   Ideology and Economic Policy
o   Institutions and Economic Policy
o   Conclusions: Economic Policy in an Age of Uncertainty

Quiz – 4

Tenth Week

·  Chapter 19 Environmental Politics
o   Background
o   The Emerging Environmental Agenda
o   Policy Actors and Institutions
o   Chronology
o   Political Parties and the Environment
o   Conclusions: The Future of Environmental Politics
·  Chapter 20 The American World Role
o   The Institutional Context
o   American Foreign Policy in the Post-9/11 World 
o   Conclusions: Bound to Lead or Bound to Fail?
·  Chapter 21 The American Political System in an Uncertain World
o   Assessing the American Polity
o   Reform and Renewal

Quiz – 5

Last Day of Finals