Listed: my top three PAIS moments
Today’s blog is for you, the prospective Politics and International Studies students among us. You’ll also find this piece interesting if you intend to study a similar course (or at least I hope so!) because I’m going to be running through some of my favourite PAIS teaching moments.
Before I start, there’s a couple of things I should make clear.
First, the Warwick you join will be very different to the University I arrived at in 2018. The PAIS department offers modules dependent upon the level of expertise in the department, student interest, etc… As a result, new modules are added and old ones are taken away fairly often.
However, that means that you’re going to be taught by academics who are genuinely interested in the things they are lecturing you on. Which, ultimately, is the best-case scenario!
So, when reading this blog, remember that I’m only writing from my personal experiences. These are the things that I studied and particularly enjoyed! There’s a chance the things I mention will still be taught at Warwick by the time you join… but there’s also a chance they might not.
Second, this is a listicle of things that I enjoyed learning about. That isn’t to say that I endorse the things that happened.
In PAIS, you can spend a lot of time studying war, death, and despair. Ultimately, that’s because (1) we can learn a lot about the world from studying moments of crisis and (2) we can (hopefully) learn to avoid those things from happening again.
(You can study cheerier topics too!)
So, when reading this blog, remember that I enjoyed learning about these topics – it isn’t to say I like the fact that these events happened!
Anyway, here are my top three Warwick teaching moments…
1) Democratic Backsliding (2019/20)
In my second year, I took a module called ‘PO233: Core Issues in Comparative Politics’. It’s still one of my favourite modules, thanks in part to the fact I was taught by Renske Doorenspleet – who is just incredibly passionate about the subject.
In essence, comparative politics is exactly what it says on the tin. Typically, you compare case studies to gain a better understanding of a political phenomenon – like the impact of a certain type of voting system in different countries around the world.
Well, the first half of the module was all about democracy – which is Renske’s main area of interest. Over the course of several weeks, we studied why the level of democracy had decreased in certain parts of the world.
I found it really interesting because of how well it linked with everything else that I’d been studying – like populism in the EU and US, for example.
I loved the comparative politics module – it gave me a fresh way of writing about the subject… and it was taught in a different way.
Rather than having a standard lecture and seminar, we had weekly two-hour workshops instead. As a whole, the module really helped me prepare for writing a dissertation in my final year.
2) Historical Narratives and Brexit (2019/20)
‘PO206: Politics in the United Kingdom’ is another of my favourite modules.
Why did I enjoy the module so much? Well, partly because I was first drawn to politics through watching the news when I was younger – I think I enjoyed the drama of it all!
Mainly, though, the module caught my attention because of how in-depth the lectures were.
My favourite week (and indeed the topic I wrote my essay about) was when we covered Brexit.
One of the biggest political issues of our time, we studied Brexit from a different angle, looking at how Euroscepticism had been engrained in British politics over a period of decades.
As you can imagine, the seminars that week were lively!
PO206 isn’t a module that I regret taking.
3) Donald Trump and US Foreign Policy (2020/21)
Last – but certainly not least – is a topic from ‘PO379: United States Foreign Policy’.
First, I should acknowledge how broad PO379 is. We’ve studied an extensive portion of the USA’s history, starting with the founding fathers and ending with Joe Biden.
Whatever period of American political history you’re interested in, this module has got you covered!
I prefer the modern stuff – so the weeks covering George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Trump stand out to me.
I wrote my summative essay on Trump’s America First policy because the lecture on the topic was fascinating!
The basis of my coursework was to look at how historic US foreign policy had (or had not) influenced Trump during his time in the Oval Office. It was eye-opening!
That wraps up my blogging activity for today… I’m about to pack up my boots and head to campus to play some five-a-side football.
I hope everyone is keeping well, if you have any questions about Warwick, feel free to get in touch!