The Changing Global Order

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Course Date: 19 May 2014 to 30 June 2014 (6 weeks)

Price: free

Course Summary

This course deals with international relations, peace and security and brings together a number of experts from the field and academia to share their perspectives. The course will help you gain insight into conflict resolution and the role organizations such as the United Nations Security Council, the European Union, the African Union and NATO play in a changing world.

Estimated Workload: 6-8 hours/week

Course Instructors

Madeleine Hosli

Madeleine O. Hosli is a Professor of International Relations at Leiden University (Institute of Political Science). She studied political science and economics, and obtained her PhD degree in 1992 from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Thereafter, she held a postdoctoral position at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Center for Political Studies, Institute of Social Research). She taught at the European Institute of Public Administration in Maastricht, the University of Zurich, the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, the Free University Amsterdam and the University College Utrecht. Since 2003 she has been an Associate Professor and since 2007 a Full Professor at Leiden University (Netherlands).

She published on themes such as United Nations Security Council reform, the European Union in the United Nations General Assembly, conflict resolution and peace negotiations, trade agreements, European institutions and European economic and monetary relations. In 2010, she was the Netherlands Visiting Professor (NVP) at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (sponsored by the University of Michigan and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, KNAW). From 2010 to 2012, she coordinated a multilateral research group, supported by the European Union’s Lifelong Learning Program (Jean Monnet Key Activity 1) and in 2013, was awarded a Jean Monnet Chair Ad Personam. From 2003 to 2013, she was Program Director of the two-year Master of International Relations and Diplomacy, offered by Leiden University in cooperation with the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, Clingendael (The Hague).

Rob De Wijk

Rob de Wijk is the director of HCSS. He studied Contemporary History and International Relations in Groningen, and wrote his PhD dissertation on NATO’s ‘Flexibility in Response’ strategy at the Political Science Department of Leiden University. Mr. De Wijk started his career in 1977 as a freelance journalist and later became lecturer in International Relations at Leiden University’s Political Science Department. He also worked at the Ministry of Defense, where he was instrumental in the restructuring of the Dutch armed forces in the early nineties. Other positions he held, include director of the Clingendael Security and Conflict Programme and Professor in the field of International Relations at the Royal Netherlands Military Academy. Currently, he is not only the director of HCSS, but also Professor of International Relations at Leiden University, chairman of the National Security Think Tank (Denktank Nationale Veiligheid) and columnist for the national daily Trouw. 

Andre Gerrits

André Gerrits is Professor of Russian History and Politics, and Chair of the MA International Relations (European Union Studies / International Studies) and the BA International Studies, The Hague, at Leiden University. Previously, he held the Jean Monnet Chair in European Studies at the University of Amsterdam and was Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of International Studies Clingendael.

Gerrits studied History and Russian Studies at the Free University of Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam. His main fields of interest are international relations, Russian modern history, contemporary Russian and Eurasian politics, and EU external relations. 

Siniša Vuković

We are pleased to present Siniša Vuković as co-instructor in the MOOC The Changing Global Order. Siniša Vuković is Professorial Lecturer and a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University. He is also Assistant Professor at Nijmegen University and a visiting lecturer at Amsterdam University. He received a Ph.D. (cum laude) in International Relations and Conflict Resolution at Leiden University, an MA (cum laude) in International Relations and Diplomacy from Leiden University and The Netherlands Institute of International Relations "Clingendael", and a BA (laurea) in Political Sceince from University of Rome "La Sapienza". For his research at SAIS, he has received the Rubicon research grant from The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). His research focuses on various forms of international conflict resolution, mainly multiparty mediation efforts. He has published in academic journals such as International Journal of Conflict Management, International Negotiation, Cooperation and Conflict, and Acta Politica, and contributed to several edited volumes with book chapters. He has taught a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses related to the field of conflict management, with a particular focus on the processes of negotiation and mediation.

Larissa Van den Herik

Larissa van den Herik is professor of public international law at Leiden University. She is the programme director of the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, and of the advanced LL.M. programme on Public International Law, with specializations in Peace, Justice and Development and International Criminal Law. She serves as general editor of the Leiden Journal of International Law (and former Editor-in-Chief 2005-2013). She also holds the positions of vice-chair of the Advisory Committee on Public International Law Issues to the Netherlands Government and has advised the government in that capacity, inter alia, on drones and cyberwarfare. She published a volume on Counter-Terrorism Strategies in a Fragmented Legal Order (CUP, 2013), and has also written extensively on international criminal law and on UN sanctions regimes.

Giles Scott-Smith

Giles Scott-Smith holds the Ernst van der Beugel Chair in the Diplomatic History of Transatlantic Relations since WW II at Leiden University. He is also senior researcher with the Roosevelt Study Center, Middelburg, The Netherlands. Between 2006-2012 he taught International Relations at University College Roosevelt, the Liberal Arts Honours College of Utrecht University. He is currently the chair of the Transatlantic Studies Association. His research interests cover transatlantic relations, international organisations, the role of non-state actors, and public diplomacy.


Course Description

How are international power relations changing and how can global peace and stability be maintained? This course familiarizes you with some main theories of international relations, shows how the global order is gradually changing and discusses how selected international and regional organizations contribute to the maintenance of global peace and security. 

You learn what research findings tell us in terms of the capacity of international organizations and actors to help prevent or stop violent conflict, what tools are used to negotiate agreements and how foundations for sustainable peace are best created. In the course, we also focus on the role of the European Union (EU) in terms of diplomacy and efforts to prevent conflict, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the contribution of organizations such as the African Union (AU) to the prevention of conflict and war. 

We also look at activities of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and, in the context of a final debate, see in which ways its membership could be adapted to more accurately reflect the power relations of the current global order. 

You learn about all of these topics by doing quizzes and exercises testing your knowledge of these subjects, helping you understand crucial concepts and get insights into how the academic study of international relations and international organization can contribute to the search for global stability and peace in practice.


1. Will I get a certificate or Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?
Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

2. Do I earn Leiden University credits upon completion of this class?
No. The certificate of Accomplishment is not part of a formal qualification from Leiden University. 

3. What resources will I need for this class?
All reading materials will be downloadable for free from the course web site. 

4. What are the learning outcomes of this course and why should I take it?
By following this course you will learn to
  • Identify challenges deriving from the changing global order for institutions such as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • Describe how conflict resolution works in theory and in practice.
  • Explain how regional organizations, such as the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU), aim to contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability.
  • Solve problems in practice by applying concepts of conflict resolution to a case you are interested in. 
  • Contribute to current discussions of UNSC reform with your own creative thoughts on how this institution could best adapted to make it most effective and representative of the changing global order.
5. Why do you offer this course for free?
Leiden University is grounded in a long standing tradition in providing students the space for obtaining a thorough and multifaceted education. This MOOC offers us the possibility to share our knowledge globally. 


Week 1: Introduction to International Relations
Week 2: The Changing World Order: Rising Powers and International Institutions
Week 3: Conflict, Conflict Resolution and Security
Week 4: Regional Organizations in Global Affairs: The Examples of the European Union, the African Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Arctic Council
Week 5: NATO in a Changing World
Week 6: Reforming the United Nations Security Council: Strategies and Proposals


The course consists of a number of weekly lecture videos, which are between 5 and 12 minutes in length (approx. 30 clips), by different experts. The video lectures contain 1-2 integrated quiz questions per video. Brief lecture notes will accompany each video segment.

There will also be exercises: an essay on negotiations and strategies of conflict resolution, and multiple choice questionnaires on substance covered in the lectures. Some assignments will be graded automatically (multiple choice), others assessed on the basis of peer-review techniques (essay). In discussion groups, students will link up with each other in order to discuss topics related to this MOOC, such as strategies for conflict resolution, maintenance of global peace and security and finally, suggestions for plausible future constellations of the UNSC.

Optionally, in groups, students will prepare proposals for strategies of UNSC reform that are then evaluated and selected for potential presentation. They form the basis for (online) exchange and discussion with high-level experts in the last week of the course.

Course Workload

6-8 hours/week

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