Spring 2025

New Cold Wars: Great Power Relations in the 21st Century

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-305


Pavel Machala (Section 01)


A growing number of International Relations (IR) scholars and foreign policy experts have begun to characterize current Great Power relations as having many fundamental features of a “New Cold War” while other IR scholars and policy experts insist that this Cold War label is a distortion of reality. This course will analyze today’s Great Power relations and review the explanatory value of this Cold War analogy. We will begin by studying the major IR theories (realist, liberal, and Marxist) which explain today’s relations among the US, China and Russia and then compare them to the major features of the original Cold War system which characterized Great Power relations during most of the second half of the twentieth century to determine if both are sufficiently similar to be referred to as “Cold Wars.” To facilitate this endeavor, we will divide the Cold War system of the post-World War II era into several historical periods so that we can better understand which of them were the most, and which the least, perilous and also whether any of these periods resemble the current times in which we live. This may help us recognize what needs to be done so that the Great Powers can either avoid a "New Cold War" altogether or at least escape its dangerous extremes.

Requisite: recommended at least one POSC 100 or 200 level IR course. 

Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Machala.

How to handle overenrollment: Additional students will be placed on a waiting list. If I sense huge interest in this course, I may accept 5 additional students (25+5)! I will authorize Registrar to cut roster after first pre-registration and then immediate prior second pre-reg.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: An emphasis on written work, readings, independent research, oral presentations!

Course Materials


Other years: Offered in Spring 2025