Entry and Exit: How Membership in International Organizations Transforms International Cooperation

Political Science/International Relations

States join international organizations both to accomplish technical coordination on specific issues and to strengthen relations with other states. This project involves historic case studies and statistical analysis to examine how geopolitical context shapes when and how states join organizations. Students will research background material on specific organizations, collect data, and prepare graphs to visualize patterns in 60 years of membership across over 200 organizations ranging from the United Nations to the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank. The exclusion of Palestine and Taiwan represents one area for case research as part of the project. Other parts of the project will look close-up at experiences of Japan, the United States, and China over the past century to examine changing engagement in organizations. The European Union and World Trade Organization are among the organization case studies about the process of enlargement and its impact on cooperation.

Students will learn about the substance of international cooperation from both a legal perspective based on legal charter and decision processes, as well as the historical perspective of negotiations and changing patterns over time. As part of a team involved in data collection, students will learn how to interpret and apply coding rules and evaluate source material. These skills will help to improve independent research for course papers and senior theses.

Specialized skills: Those with knowledge of R software and LaTeX will be able to help on the preparation of graphs and simple data analysis. Language skills may also be applied for specific case studies (Arabic, Chinese, French, and Japanese would be especially helpful).