A non-Western view of why Thucydides shouldn’t be put on a pedestal (or a syllabus)

When I was a student back in Intro to IR, I confess I never even touched Thucydides, the Peloponnesian War, or even Machiavelli and Hobbes for that matter. The first so-called realist I was exposed to was Hans Morgenthau, and that was thanks to a translated version of Politics Among Nations (the copy which I never finished and I presume is lost). It was only when I started my MSc that I began to read the Peloponnesian War—mostly from Wikipedia and bits and bits from Donald Kagan’s four-volume work on the Peloponnesian War. Right now, I find Donald Kagan’s version to be much easier to follow than the original Thucydides.

For me, Thucydides was too heavy. Even with the help of maps, indexes, and annotations in Strassler’s Landmark Thucydides, I still found myself lost and not immersed in what Thucydides claimed as a “possession for all time”. Maybe I simply didn’t have the intellectual acuity to follow Thucydides’ magisterial work.

But this did not stop me from trying to assign parts of Thucydides in my syllabi.

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Teaching IR #3: Should the lecture stay?

Some thoughts about whether the oldest pedagogical trick ought to stay or be relegated to the dustbin of history.

Today, the lecture faces a lot of criticism, especially from education reformists. In this post, I do not aim to address all criticism exhaustively. Instead, I focus on one piece of representative criticism, namely the argument that the lecture is “passive” and thus, should be replaced with more “active” pedagogy.

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Teaching IR #1: The Discussion Panel

This is a series which I set up to discuss teaching methods which I have employed in class. In this post, I cover the discussion panel method of student-centered learning.

The Discussion Panel is basically a watered-down version of what goes on at an academic conference. When academics enter a conference, they usually bring with them a paper which they present in front of an audience of their peers. At the same time, they sit on a panel with other academics working within the boundaries of the panel’s theme. So, I thought to carry this over into a classroom setting. With some minor modifications, of course.

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