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U.S. Foreign Policy

Course Number: PS 220
Transcript Title: U.S. Foreign Policy
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: December 19, 2014
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0
Approved delivery mode:


WR 115, RD 115, MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores

Course Description

Covers historical analytical treatment of select foreign policy themes since World War I. Examines the United States' attempt to create world order through use of economic, military and diplomatic power, the roles of democratic institutions and decision-making elites in creating foreign policy, and the interdependent basis of the contemporary international system. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent test scores. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion students should be able to:

  1. Apply an understanding of diversity of human experience and culture in relationship to how we think and interact with others representing nationstates, organizations, and groups operating in the global environment.
  2. Employ different methods of inquiry and analytical skills to conceptually organize experiences and discern meaning from attempts of the U.S. to create world order through use of economic, military, and diplomatic power.
  3. Analyze the roles of individuals and political institutions as these relate to contemporary problems and issues including the role of democratic institutions and decision making elites in creating foreign policy.
  4. Use the ability to reason quantitatively and qualitatively using analytical skills expressed in both written and oral communication to address the interdependent basis of contemporary international system and the United States’ place in it.
  5. Develop and articulate personal value judgments, respecting points of view, while practicing ethical and social requirements of responsible global citizenship by participating in opportunities to shape U.S. foreign policy.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)
2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Apply the knowledge, skills and abilities to enter and succeed in a defined profession or advanced academic program. (Professional Competence)
4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)
5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Exams consisting of essay or other method that integrates and requires application of concepts, themes and issues in the course.
  • Written assignments such as papers, reviews, journals and other writing assignments that demonstrate understanding of content knowledge and appropriate application by students of content to clarification of their own views on political issues.
  • Oral presentations, summits, model-UN, discussions, debates, or role-playing that articulate views and values incorporating a comprehensive knowledge of appropriate concepts and issues.
  • Projects where students can identify resources that provide political information and can utilize these resources to evaluate the political process and identify participatory strategies.
  • Review and critique of political material from different media.
  • Use of standard research techniques and acceptable formats in written work and oral presentations.

Texts and Materials

Choice of texts is at the discretion of each course instructor. Some of the suggestions:

Hastedt, Glenn P. American Foreign Policy, Past, Present, Future 4th edition, Prentice Hall, 2000. Hastedt, ed. Annual Editions 00/01, Dushkin Publishing, 2000.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  • The political culture of the US and how it affects US foreign policy decisions.
  • Competing theories of foreign policy, including idealism, realism, and others.
  • The role and powers of the President and Congress in the foreign policy making process.
  • The role of non-governmental organizations in policy-making process.
  • The influences of public opinion on foreign policy.
  • The politics of foreign economic policy, including the use of trade, aid and monetary policy as tools in applying foreign policies.
  • The instruments of violence, coercion, covert activity and diplomacy as tools in carrying out US foreign interests.

Students should develop the following skills:

  • Support generalizations/arguments with examples or evidence.
  • Accurately articulates ideas in written and oral presentation.
  • Articulates original applications and synthesis of academic theories/frameworks, supporting them by citing valid sources.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of political system in written and oral work.
  • Critiques own assumptions and those of others, validating them with substantial thinking and application of appropriate arguments.
  • Use of standard research techniques and acceptable formats in written work and oral presentations.