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CANCELLED - Spring 2020 Course B. The Rise and Fall of the Sovereign

Alumnae Continuing Education
Norris University Center
Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020 at 12:45 PM (CT) to Tuesday, Apr 7, 2020 at 2:45 PM (CT)

Dear Alumnae Continuing Education student,

Regretfully, The Alumnae of Northwestern University Continuing Education Program is cancelling all four spring 2020 courses.

Northwestern University is taking significant steps to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on its campuses and protect the health and well-being of students, faculty, staff, and guests. Because the university is not having spring classes onsite for the foreseeable future, we cannot hold our classes at Northwestern, precipitating the cancellation for spring. At present, we do not offer our courses online.

A full refund will be forthcoming. Those of you who paid by check or cash will be sent a check for a full refund from The Alumnae of Northwestern University. The Norris Box Office will initiate full refunds to those who paid by credit card. The refund will appear as a credit posted to the original payment card used for the registration.

Under these circumstances, there is no need to purchase a cancellation fee.

If you have any questions, please contact The Alumnae's voicemail (847-604-3569) or The Alumnae email:alumnae@u.northwestern.edu.

The Alumnae Continuing Education Program

Course B. The Rise and Fall of the Sovereign Nation-State

Tuesdays, 12:45-2:45 p.m.

Instructor: Michael Loriaux, Professor, Political Science

This course meets on Tuesday afternoons beginning on March 31st.

The nation-state and peoples’ right to national self-determination have been the source of much instability and violence since the middle of the nineteenth century. War in the 20th century fused national resentment with industrial technology, culminating in Hiroshima and the Holocaust. A period of relative stability followed, though placed under the shadow of nuclear Armageddon. International organizations such as the United Nations were established to foster some degree of order and rule of law, however, ushering in a level of international cooperation unknown in previous centuries. In this course we review the history of the sovereign nation-state system and examine the lessons humanity has tried to derive from history. We conclude by examining how climate change and the end of American leadership in world politics challenge the survival of the sovereignty system and urgently require a new paradigm.

Mar. 31  The German Question and the Wilsonian or “Liberal” Reformism

The 20th century really begins in 1871 with the unification of Germany as a nation and empire. Germany’s unification and rapid industrial growth challenged the international relations of 19th century Europe and laid the groundwork for war in 1914.

Apr. 7  Mutiny, Revolution, and Proletarian Internationalism
Four years of trench warfare ended in mutinies throughout Europe, some of which culminated in political revolution. The success of the Bolshevik, or Communist, revolution in Russia gave birth to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. For many, the Russian Revolution, which put an end to capitalist exploitation and social injustice, seen by many as the root cause of World War I, offered a persuasive path to peace.

Apr. 14  Betrayal, Fascism, and Political Realism

Communist movements in Europe were repressed by Fascist counter- revolutionary movements that held Communism responsible for betrayal, mutiny, and defeat in World War I. Fascist movements came to power in many countries of central and Mediterranean Europe. British and American observers looked on the growing polarization between left and right in Europe as the reflection of humanity’s inherent ungovernability, and the subsequent need for greater “realism” in foreign policy. Realism recognized that military power was necessary to preserve peace and stability.

Apr. 21  Realism, Containment, and MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction)
The U.S. exited World War II with a foreign policy philosophy that tempered its enduring Wilsonianism with a new “realism.” That philosophy informed its policy of “containment” of Soviet influence in Europe and Asia. Ambiguities inherent in that philosophy, however, brought a more aggressive anti-Communism in the 1950s and 1960s, which in turn sparked a nuclear arms race between the two “superpowers.”

Apr. 28  The American Century
The decades following World War II provided relative stability and peace, at least for North America and much of Europe. For some, stability reflected the hegemonic leadership of a victorious United States which now, for the first time in its history, involved itself deeply in world affairs. For others, stability reflected the post-war success of Wilsonian-style reformism.

May 5  The German Question (Again) and European Unification

The German question was still unsettled as the Cold War flared up in the years following World War II. It made a subsequent reappearance in 1990, when the Soviet empire collapsed and German reunification ensued in 1990. The European response to the German question, in 1992 as in 1949, was European unification. The European Union has proven to be the most ambitious and the most successful experiment in peace-making history.

May 12  The Myth of the Nation 

How is Europe able to bring so many quarreling nations together to create super-national institutions? Nationhood’s grasp on the imagination may be less powerful than commonly thought. The modern concept of “nation” is a surprisingly recent invention. It did not prevail in its European birthplace until the end of the 19th century, and did not prevail in the world until the last half of the twentieth century.


May 19  The End of the Sovereignty System 

European decolonization and, in 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union, had the effect of multiplying sovereign nation-states at a time when Europe, the originator of the system, was working to transcend it. The expansion of the sovereignty system brought instability and war to the Middle East and renewed tensions in East Asia. The greatest challenge to the sovereignty system, however, comes from climate change.

May 26  The End of the American Century and the Call for a New Paradigm

Climate change is occurring just as entrenched regionalism in American politics had provoked the collapse of American leadership in world affairs. The challenge of climate change is existential and will require life-style changes that the sovereignty system will resist. Humanity will need a new paradigm to confront this challenge. The new paradigm will have to address not merely how governments interact, but how the individual political subject understands his or her “standing” in the world. The history of Europe’s effort to find a path out of the turmoil and destruction of the twentieth century provides a way to think about this new paradigm.


Parking permit may be requested from this website.

See the event listed as Spring 2020 Parking - Optional


Information is subject to change. Full course and policy descriptions are available at www.nualumnae.org


***One ticket per class, per account.

Course Pricing

One nine-week course $190.00

Discounts for Multiple Registrations for an Individual

Individuals who register for multiple courses may receive discounts on each additional course after the first:

To register for two nine-week courses at the special price of $355.00, select the 2-Course Package.

To register for three nine-week courses at the special price of $520.00, select the 3-Course Package.

To register for four nine-week courses at the special price of $685.00, select the 4-Course Package.


Your email confirmation from Norris Box Office verifies your registration but it is not your entry to class. Be sure to bring your class entry card to each class as it must be shown to the proctors at the entry door. In order to guarantee seating for registered students, those without their card will be given a temporary entry card, but ONE time only. After that one time, a replacement card will be provided at a fee of $30.00.

Refund Policy: Before a refund can be issued, your course card must be returned and the cancellation fee must be purchased on this website. Send your entry card to Alumnae Continuing Education, P.O. Box 2789, Glenview, IL 60025.

Applicable Fees and Withdrawal Schedule:
If the withdrawal request is received prior to the first class, the refund of the original registration will be initiated only after the registrant purchases a $10.00 cancellation processing fee.

If the withdrawal request is received after the first class, but before the second class, the refund of the the original registration will be initiated only after the registrant purchases both the $10.00 cancellation processing fee and the $30.00 per diem fee, per course dropped.

If the withdrawal request is received after the second class, but before the third class, the refund of the original registration will be initiated only after the registrant purchases the $10.00 cancellation processing fee and $60.00 in per diem fees, per course dropped.


  • No refunds will be given after the second class.
  • Credits are not given for future classes.
  • A transfer at no cost to another class offered during the same quarter is an option provided there is space available.
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Online ticket sales ended on 3/12/2020 at 2:00 PM (CT)

Event Location
Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive Evanston, IL 60208

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