As an academic field of study, International Relations (IR) became an autonomous area of inquiry in 1919 when the University of Wales created its Department of International Politics and Georgetown University in the United States (US) created its Department of International Relations. The field was (and to some extent still is) devoted to the explicit study of how the system of states could be made to work more effectively to enhance the power of law, peacefully manage interstate affairs, preserve order and minimize the prospects of war. The words ‘relations’ or ‘affairs’ (as in ‘foreign affairs’) are meant to signify that the field encompasses more than just politics. The field is closely tied, administratively if not academically, to political science departments (and in some cases history or law departments, from which IR can be said to have originated, particularly from the subfields of diplomatic history and international law, although international economics might also be added to the chronology). In most universities, IR is simply treated as a subdiscipline of political science, or is part of a policy studies degree, a public administration degree, a peace studies degree or a security studies degree. Sometimes the labels of ‘foreign affairs’ or ‘international studies’ are preferred by those who shun the IR label as insufficiently ‘interdisciplinary’.
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