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Tutor profile: Michael M.

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Michael M.
US Marine Corps Officer with Experience and Academic Background in International Relations
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Questions

Subject: International Relations

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Question:

Why is the study of theories an important aspect of understanding and operating in the realm of international relations?

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Michael M.
Answer:

International relations is among the most diverse and complicated areas of study in all academia. No other subject matter includes such a vast array of issues to include economics, politics, history, sociology, psychology, culture, and even technology. International relations and political theories, therefore, provide a means of identifying important underlying issues that will help explain complicated issues as they happen across the globe or the international stage, as it is often referred. Theories, such as realism, liberalism, or constructivism, provide a helpful perspectives or frameworks in explaining historical events as well as forecasting events likely to occur in the future. Over time, a student will gravitate towards one or more theories that align with their perception of how the world works. While there is nothing wrong with favoring a particular theory, an astute student in this field of study would consider the problem through multiple lens of theories to best understand the issue. Beyond the realm of academia, there are real world applications of these theories for diplomats, strategists, and various governmental agencies that rely on theories to effectively navigate the complex world of international relations. Following comprehension of these theories, international relations professionals are able to determine which theories provide the best framework of analysis for current events and new trends. When time is of the essence for decision makers, employing the use of international relations theories can help to quickly synthesize a problem to its core issues so they can begin to develop feasible solutions. A comprehensive understanding of international relations theories will build a firm foundation for students to use over a lifetime of continued learning and employment beyond the classroom setting. As new trends emerge within the international order, such as fifth generation warfare, global initiatives, or the effects of globalization, students and professionals alike will need to assess whether the traditional theories of international relations still hold relevancy.

Subject: World History

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Question:

What is the best method of studying world history so as to retain better comprehension of the material?

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Michael M.
Answer:

In this modern age of information technology, most answers to questions of who, when, what, and how are easily found with a simple internet or database search. One downside to the rapid access to information, however, is that increasingly most students are unable to explain why events in history happened or why they are important, let alone retain this knowledge when it comes to a test. Too often, students focus on memorizing dates and names of events or people for a test, instead of studying to understand the actual historical event itself. A more effective method of studying, therefore, would be to focus on understanding why events occurred as they did in relation to other historical events. This will led to better overall comprehension of the material that also contributes to better retention of people, places, and dates. Finding connections throughout history helps solidify connections in memory as well. The more connections a student can make concerning why a matter happened, who else was involved, and for what reasons, the more likely they are to regurgitate the historical topic accurately. The ability to effectively explain of communicate history will inevitably help when it comes to test taking, paper writing, or project creation, resulting in overall higher grades for comprehension and retention.

Subject: Comparative Government and Politics

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Question:

Can the scientific method be applied to comparative government and politics? And if so, what are some of the pros and cons in doing so?

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Michael M.
Answer:

Simply put, yes, the scientific method can and should be applied to study of comparative government and politics. The scientific method – a process of discovery that involves testing and analyzing data observed within a field of study – is a helpful framework for analyzing observations as they occur on the international stage. One advantage of this method is that when comparing and contrasting different governments, laws, or politics, this method provides a systematic means of analyzing causes and effects based on the data collected. Often times this will help a researcher synthesize a complex issue into more understandable means. On the other hand, there are certain limitations to this method. One such limitation is to assume that the data, often times called variables, are the precise indicators of why events unfold on the international stage. The world of international studies incorporates many aspects of the human dimension such as biases, cultures, and psychology that are difficult to quantify like one would in a math equation. Often times, there are far too many such variables to truly explain certain events that the scientific method is capable of answering alone.

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