Trinity One International Relations Stream

Welcome to the International Relations (IR) stream in the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program at Trinity College in the University of Toronto.

The IR Stream has two main goals. The first is to provide students with a broad introduction to the field of IR. The second is to provide an introduction that is engaging, interdisciplinary, and rigorous. 

A Broad Introduction to IR

The IR stream introduces and examines some of the most challenging international issues of our time. Students tackle issues in areas that range from the history of national sovereignty since 1648 to current debates on intervention, and from questions of war and peace to issues in global social and economic policies. Examples include: the outbreak of the world wars, counter-terrorism, drone warfare, human rights, poverty and inequality, public health, global crime and global environmental degradation.


The University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs is located at Trinity College and offers access to seminars, speaker series, conferences, symposia, and roundtables.


Students in the IR stream might consider going on to the University of Toronto's undergraduate IR major or specialist program, hosted by Trinity College. Trinity One IR stream courses are considered among the prerequisites for entry into the IR program. Students also commonly consider programs in history, political science, and peace and conflict studies, among others. 

Stream Requirements

Students in the International Relations stream enrol in two Trinity One seminar credits in their first year.

TRN150Y - National Versus International


The international system today faces extraordinary challenges. Understanding these challenges requires understanding the past. This seminar course briefly reviews the origins and development of the international system from the 17th century through the age of empires and the great wars of the 20th century. It then concentrates on the clash of nationalism with internationalism in the world since 1945, looking at such issues as what drives nationalism and what alternatives there are to it. We will study ideas and ideologies as well as institutions.


TRN151Y - Global Governance


Terrorism, the proliferation of arms (including weapons of mass destruction), environmental degradation, globalization, technological change, and the rise of non-state actors all pose challenges to statecraft and the management of global order. This seminar course explores the changing dynamics of global politics and the responses to them by states (and others). Topics will include an examination of new forms of international collaboration that have developed in the wake of crises in the years following the Second World War (1939–45).

An Intimate, Immersive, and Interdisciplinary Experience

The small-group, discussion-oriented, seminar courses are the heart of the program. They provide a rigorous introduction to the central issues in IR through a pedagogical process that allows students and instructors to get to know each other, to work collaboratively, and to develop individual perspectives—benefits only deepened by the requirement that students take two classes of this type at the same time with the same classmates. Each student is immersed in a rigorous academic endeavour, including the analysis of primary documents and scholarly literature, and stressing critical thinking, but also an interpersonal and engaging experience.


Furthermore, the nature of the immersion transcends discipline-based education in that it addresses directly issues of IR as such, not merely the economic, historical, political, philosophical, etc., approaches to those issues. For example, each of international law, political theory, sociology, and history treats the legitimacy of war differently, for there are different disciplinary approaches to the issue. However, a war is a war, a single multifarious, and dreadful concrete thing, and it is important to consider all the relevant disciplinary approaches to get as complete a picture as possible of it. Of course, this generalizes to other issues as well, and the program makes the interdisciplinary approach a core value, drawing on the considerable disciplinary resources available at the University of Toronto. 

What Students Are Saying

Trinity One remains one of the most formative academic experiences of my undergraduate career. Learning from some of the university's best professors in a seminar environment is a rare and highly valuable opportunity for incoming students. Specifically, the International Relations stream provided me with a strong foundation in writing and oral communication for my future studies in history and political science. Its rich class discussions were stimulating and enjoyable. Undoubtedly, the program was the spark for my intellectual growth at the University of Toronto.


-- Patrick Quinton-Brown (IR stream 2010-2011)


The International Relations stream provided me with the academic knowledge needed to succeed in my undergraduate career. The unique seminar structure ignited an immense transfer of knowledge incomparable to my other first-year classes. Moreover, with my professors’ encouragement and support I was able to research and write about understudied subjects in the field. I will truly cherish my time in Trinity One because it sparked a curiosity and passion that will benefit me for years to come. 


--Haley O'Shaughnessy (IR stream 2011-12)


There is probably no better academic preparation for upper year courses than the fast-paced and challenging IR stream. Students also benefit from close contact with professors, including intellectually stimulating conversations (that are rare in other classes because they are typically much larger). The small seminar-style classes allowed all students to be actively engaged in discussion, often leading to lively debate that enriched the learning experience. The Trinity One co-curricular lunches—where students got to meet distinguished public figures and scholars—were also a definite high point, and provided a real-world counterpart to our classroom discussion and analysis.


--Rachel Gunn (IR stream 2012-13)

Co-curricular Events

Trinity One co-curricular lunches with guest speakers occur about every third Tuesday between noon and 2:00 p.m. at Trinity. Students are encouraged to keep this time slot open.

The co-curricular events draw upon the rich resources of the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs, School of Public Policy and Governance, Centre for Ethics, and the Faculty of Medicine and University of Toronto Affiliated Hospitals. These events enable students in all Trinity One streams to meet guest speakers and to engage in informal but high-level conversation with one another, their professors, and guest experts.

Recent Events

Some of the guests who visited the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program during the 2013-14 academic year to discuss their work included the following, each of whom addressed the Trinity One community over lunch and kindly agreed to be interviewed by a faculty member or student.

Michael Ignatieff

Audrey Macklin

Graeme Smith

Natalie Zemon Davis 

Robyn Doolittle

What Instructors Are Saying

The Trinity One pedagogical environment engages students, brings out the best in them, and encourages them to apply themselves. The program is blessed with some of the best incoming undergraduates in the country, something the teaching staff is keenly aware of.


The program brings together the best of Trinity College and the University of Toronto. It affords talented students and faculty in international relations the opportunity to share ideas and learn from each other. It is an exceptional first year learning experience and I am grateful for the chance to be part of it.


--Julie Gilmour teaches TRN150Y - National Versus International and is frequently an instructor in the IR program’s advanced courses at Trinity. She is a scholar of Canadian History, Immigration, Race, Citizenship and International Relations. During the 1990s she was a part of the movement to document Russian historical sources newly available in the former Soviet archives. Her doctoral work looked at the movement of  European Refugees to Canada after World War Two and her postdoctoral  research is forthcoming in 2014 as a book entitled, Trouble on Main  Street: W.L. Mackenzie King, Reason, Race and the Vancouver Riots. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Trinity College.  


It has been such a great honour to be part of the TRIN ONE programme over the years. Being part of Canada's premier undergraduate international relations programme is one of the most rewarding experiences of my career, and it's really all because of the students. Year in and year out, most are so engaging and engaged: dedicated to developing a truly sophisticated understanding of the international order in all of its historical and contemporary complexities. I always warn students that history is messy, but most come prepared to master the heavy material: ideas, issues, and events that are constantly a challenge to understand. They also come prepared to invest in their own education and constantly hone the skills they need to succeed at school and in the working world beyond. I respect that so many are also committed to building a real sense of community within their programme, and establishing a positive, enriched learning environment for everyone. It's been a real thrill to share in the academic journeys of my students, and I'm grateful to them for the challenge to try and teach up to the standards they need and deserve.  


--Arne Kislenko teaches TRN150Y - National Versus International. He has taught at Trinity since 2002. His teaching/research focus is 19th/20th century international relations, particularly U.S. foreign policy, modern Southeast Asia, and intelligence/security issues. He has won numerous teaching awards, including the prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship and the Province of Ontario Leadership in Faculty Teaching Award. He was also named Ontario’s “Best Lecturer” by TV Ontario following its first “Academic Idol” contest. His publications include Culture and Customs of Laos and Culture and Customs of Thailand. Before academia Arne served for 12 years as a Senior Officer with Canada Immigration, dealing with many high profile national/international security cases. He has also worked as a consultant for the federal government and as an historical advisor for news and television programmes. He appears regularly in the media commenting on current affairs. Recently Arne hosted the National Geographic television series “Living in the Time of Jesus”, and is currently working on other TV documentary projects.



Teaching in Trinity One is a privilege and a delight. The students are a remarkably gifted community and it is a pleasure to come to know them, to teach them and to watch them grow at this early stage in their professional lives. Trinity One provides foundational teaching on core concepts in International Relations taught at an advanced level and pitched in cutting edge ways so that students learn to engage with hot button political challenges through disciplined analysis. This combination provides students with a tool kit to excel in their subsequent university courses: how to think critically, communicate clearly, and listen to each other with civility. The strength of community—that we
learn in relationship—is accentuated in the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One program. We also seek to establish relationships between IR, public policy and ethics by establishing ties between the students and scholars in these programs. Don't miss this wonderful opportunity.


--Joy Fitzgibbon teaches TRN151Y - Global Governance, and is Deputy Director of the G8 Research Group and a Research Fellow in the Global Health Diplomacy Program at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Trinity College, and an Associate of Trinity College. Her research is situated at the intersection of international relations, public policy and global health, exploring the impact of global networks on policy reform. She has just completed a book on the effectiveness of these networks in managing tuberculosis which analyses improvements in WHO’s TB control policy driven by Harvard’s Partners in Health and Nobel prize winning Médecins Sans Frontières. She is the author of the article “Tackling Tuberculosis and Malaria” (in Russia’s G20 Summit: St Petersburg 2013, Newsdesk 2013) and co-author of Networks of Knowledge (University of Toronto Press, 2001). She has submitted policy reports to CIDA (with Janice Stein) and to the Canadian Centre for Arms Control and Disarmament and has lectured as faculty in the International Pediatric Emergency Medicine Elective and in the Canadian Disaster and Humanitarian Response Training Program.

Useful Readings in IR


The following lists were compiled from suggestions made by past and current Trinity One instructors. The readings would be useful for students to look over if they wanted to review material before classes began.


No reading is required before classes begin.


Because each instructor may revise his or her syllabus during the summer months, it cannot be guaranteed that any of these texts will end up on any particular syllabus.


Sometimes a particular edition or translation of a text will be required in a course (which is not indicated here).


Currently there are 2 different sections and instructors for TRN150Y1:


For TRN150Y1 L0201:

  • Anthony F. Upton, Europe 1600-1789
  • Tim Blanning, The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815
  • Brendan Simms, Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire
  • Robert Gildea, Barricades and Borders: Europe 1800-1914
  • Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919
  • Samantha Power, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide
  • Mary Sarotte, 1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe


For TRN150Y1 L0101:


For TRN151Y1 L0101:


  • Joseph S. Nye, Jr., and David A. Welch,Understanding Global Conflict and Cooperation: An Introduction to Theory and History(New York: Pearson and Longman, 2012)
  • Margaret P. Karns and Karen Mingst International Organizations: The Politics and Processes of Global Governance, (Boulder CO:Lynne Reiner Publications, 2010).
  • Edgar Grande and Louis Pauly eds., Complex Sovereignty: Reconstituting Political Authority in the 21st Century (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005)