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International relations is the study of the interaction of nation-states and non-governmental organizations in fields such as politics, economics, and security. Professionals work in academia, government, and non-profits to understand and develop cooperative exchanges between nations that benefit commerce, security, quality of life, and the environment.

Our richly connected, complex world demands professionals skilled in international relations, an exciting field of study that presents a globally oriented perspective on issues that transcend national boundaries.

The study and practice of international relations is interdisciplinary in nature, blending the fields of economics, history, and political science to examine topics such as human rights, global poverty, the environment, economics, globalization, security, global ethics, and the political environment.

Exceptional economic integration, unprecedented threats to peace and security, and an international focus on human rights and environmental protection all speak to the complexity of international relations in the twenty-first century. This means the study of international relations must focus on interdisciplinary research that addresses, anticipates, and ultimately solves public policy problems.

International relations (often referred to international affairs) has a broad purpose in contemporary society, as it seeks to understand:

  • The origins of war and the maintenance of peace
  • The nature and exercise of power within the global system
  • The changing character of state and non-state actors who participate in international decision-making

For example, some institutions may study the psychological and social-psychological reasoning behind the actions of foreign policymakers, while others may focus their international studies on the institutional processes that contribute to the goals and behaviors of states. Ultimately, the area of international relations studied depends on the goals or objectives of the organization.