The 7 Areas of Global Politics

In most other IB Group 3 courses (i.e. Business, Economics) students get marks mostly for learning the course theories and knowing how to apply them to do analysis (and draw conclusions based on that analysis). Most Group 3 courses are theory courses. Global Politics is not.

In your Global Politics Paper 2 essays, your HL presentations, your Engagement Activities reports and your course conversations you do get some marks for using the theories. But there are 6 other areas you should be able to draw insights from as well and these other areas are extremely powerful sources of good insights.

Use this list of the 7 areas of the course to explore, to really dig into how things work in the world of Global Politics and why. Draw on all 7 areas (if you can) to build insightful, meaningful explanations.

You can use these to answer a question or simply to better understand a particular case.

The 7 Areas of IB Global Politics

The following is a list of the ways we make sense of things in Global Politics (followed by a handy way to remember them).

Similar examples

  • Look for an interesting case that is similar somehow to the main case that you’re using.
  • Compare your cases. Explain the similarities.
  • Contrast your cases. Explain some of the differences.
  • Draw on your insights from comparing and contrasting to make sense of what is going on in the main case and perhaps note why one situation was more successful than another.
  • To do you this, draw on the contemporary cases you have analysed in class. (Global Politics Mastery Members can access my cases).

Perspectives

  • There are two sides to every story, at least. Share these perspectives, to help us understand the case (or to answer the question). Share how various groups and individuals are seeing things differently.
  • Try to pull in insights from powerful and less powerful groups and individuals.
  • Be careful to not simply guess at how people feel or how they see things. Often how people see things is not what you would expect --which is really the point.
  • Quotes are very powerful here.
  • In your case study research, look for the perspectives of groups which often might be overlooked. For example, poorer individuals, historically-disadvantaged groups, or representatives from gender, ethnic, or religious groups.)

Foundation Theories

  • Our major foundation theories are: Realism, Liberalism, Relativism, Universalism, and Capitalism.
  • Use, perhaps two of these,  several (perhaps two) of the following theories to answer your question to  
  • (Note: We’re framing this slightly differently than the course guide, for clarity. The course guide puts the Critical Theories and Theoretical Foundations together in one group even though the critical theories are there to critique the theoretical foundations. Our way, here, is easier to follow.)

Levels of analysis

  • You already know that the levels of analysis in Global Politics are: Global, International, Regional, National, Community, Local.
  • Choose one or two of these levels, and explore your question or case on those levels.
  • How you will do this really depends on the question you are answering. However, often it is useful to explain how the effects (or possibilities) on one level are quite different from the effects (or possibilities) on another level.

Course Concepts

  • This one is about using course vocabulary
  • You can directly link to any of the 16 concepts in the course (Power, Sovereignty, Legitimacy, Interdependence, Justice, Human Rights, Liberty, Equality, Development Globalisation, Inequality, Sustainability, Peace, Conflict, Violence, and Non-violence). For example, “This case is an example of conflict…
  • Or you can link to any of the keywords or theories contained in the concept chapters. For example, “Galtung's conflict triangle can be used to understand the explains the three elements of violence which can be seen in this case… )

Critical Theories

  • Our major foundation theories are: Communitarianism, Constructivism, Feminism, Marxism, Post-Colonialism, Environmentalism
  • The point of these is to criticise the insights from the Foundation Theories (like realism and liberalism).
  • Critical Theories can take a bit more time to come to understand fully. It’s easy to make mistakes when trying to explain them, so do take some time to read up on them and have some good conversations about them before you try to use them in a test.  

Global Political Challenges (GPCs)

  • Our GPCs are: Environment, Poverty, Health, Identity, Borders, and Security.
  • HL students will be more familiar with these because they are the focus of the Higher Level Extension presentations in HL. SL students don’t (technically) need to learn them or use them. But HL students can often make an insightful link to a GPC to help them answer a question or better understand a case.
  • For example, you might point out that a specific conflict, such as the "Yemeni Civil War (2015–present)" has had significant effects not only on security, but also on the health of children.

And that’s it.

Find that hard to remember?

Of course every random list needs an acronym that we use to help us remember it. Here is one we can use to remember our 7 areas of the Global Politics course:

Cat Photo Credit: Sonoma Magazine