LPS-IR203 Power Shift? The Decline of the West and the New International Relations of the 21st Century

Professor Michael Cox, Chair, International Relations and Co-Director, LSE IDEAS, London School of Economics and Political Science

Professor Arne Westad, Professor, International History and Co-Director, LSE IDEAS, London School of Economics and Political Science

Course outline

For over five hundred years the international order has been shaped by the overwhelming military and economic superiority of   the West.  But the world is not static. Nothing lasts for ever under conditions of globalization; and since the turn of the new century, economists like Danny Quah and Jim O’Neill, and geopolitical thinkers such as Niall Ferguson and Paul Kennedy,   have begun to rethink the future shape of the world order. Their conclusions are as intellectually arresting as they are globally significant: the old  western world - they  argue - is fast losing its privileged position as new actors, most notably but not only  in Asia, begin to assert themselves. As a result, one of the greatest power shifts in history is underway  with consequences that could prove to be as critical to international affairs in the 21st century as the final triumph  of Europe was in the nineteenth,   and  America’s  in the twentieth.  

In this exciting course,  two globally renowned thinkers from the LSE who have been teaching summer school at PKU for many years, explore the contours of the new international system in the making by seeking to provide original  answers to ten key  questions that will be discussed over the ten meetings at the LSE-PKU Summer School.

Each session will be accompanied by a specific reading. Students are also encouraged to read at least one of the more general texts suggested on is course outline.

Full course outline|

About the Instructors


Professor Michael Cox was appointed to a Chair in International Relations at the London School of Economics in 2003 and previously held appointments in Northern Ireland, Wales, the USA and Australia. More recently he was appointed Director of the Cold War Studies Centre at LSE, and in 2007 Co-Director of LSE IDEAS, a Centre for the Study of Diplomacy and Strategy. He has held external positions at Chatham House, London, the Nobel Institute in Oslo, the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Royal United Services Institute.

A highly experienced international lecturer, he speaks on a range of contemporary global issues, though most recently he has focused on US foreign policy, the state of transatlantic relationship, the role of the United States in the international economy, the rise of Asia and the longer term problems facing the European Union.



Professor Arne Westad is Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and an expert on the history of the Cold War era and on contemporary international affairs. He co-directs LSE IDEAS, a centre for international affairs, diplomacy and strategy, is an editor of the journal Cold War History, and a general editor of the forthcoming three-volume Cambridge History of the Cold War. Professor Westad lectures widely on China's foreign affairs, on Western interventions in Africa and Asia, and on foreign policy strategy.

Before joining LSE, he taught at the University of North Carolina and at Johns Hopkins University, and served for eight years as Director of Research at the Nobel Institute in Oslo.  Additionally, he has held visiting fellowships at Cambridge University, Hong Kong University and New York University. In 2000, Professor Westad was awarded the Bernath Lecture Prize from the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations.