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Course Syllabus and Slides

Is smaller better for peace and prosperity? This course explores the blessings and perils of state size across four themes: Development, Commerce, International Organizations and War. It grounds this exploration with insights on the political and economic consequences of size from ancient (Thucydides) and contemporary (Nassim Nicholas Taleb) thinkers, as well as work in economics, political science and history.


The course's goals are three-fold: First, to expose students to prevailing and competing theories on how small (and big) states behave in domestic and international affairs. Second, to strengthen students’ capacity to critically engage with these theories. Finally, to learn about small states across time and space.  


Week 1

What is a small state? Why should we care?

A. Introduction


B. What are small states? Why do they matter for politics?

Part I: Small States and Domestic Politics

Week 2

State Size and Prosperity

A. The Perils of Geography


B. Is Smaller Better for Economic Development?

Week 3

Size and Governance

A. The Decentralization Debate


B. Size and (Good) Governance

Week 4

Size and Democracy

A. Part I

B. Part II

Week 5

Size and Diversity

A. Part I


B. Part II​

Week 6


Part II: Small States and International Politics

Week 7

Climate Change

A. Domestic Politics


B. International Politics

Week 8

Small States in the International Arena

A. Small States in International Relations Theory (Part I)


B. Small States in International Relations Theory (Part II)

Week 9

Small States in International Organisations

A. Part I

B. Part II

Week 10

Small States in the Shadow of Empire

A. Past

B. Present

Week 11

Small States and Trade

A. Part I


B. Part II

Week 12

Small States and War

A. Part I


B. Part II

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