POL S 321 A: American Foreign Policy

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
to be arranged
* *
Online group start course. W course.

Additional Details:

Course Introduction Video

Instructor Information

Robin Datta - rdatta@uw.edu - Bio

Class Overview

Welcome to Political Science 321.

This quarter we will critically analyze the historical development of U.S. foreign policy. Proceeding chronologically we will trace the enduring values, interests, institutions, and processes of American foreign policy to throw into relief modern elements of continuity, of change, and chronic contradiction. We will end by considering contemporary challenges to American Hard and Soft Power as they shape the twenty-first-century international environment.

Course may be taken for "W" credit. 

Goals and Objectives

When you have finished this course, you will be able to

  • demonstrate an understanding of the historical development of US Foreign Policy;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the role that culture and ideology played, and continues to play, in the conceptualization and conduct of US Foreign Policy;
  • demonstrate a better understanding of the impact of political pluralism and stakeholder politics on the development and conduct of US Foreign Policy; and
  • use the lessons of history to consider contemporary challenges in foreign policy critically.

General Method of Instruction

Recorded lectures, documentaries, and podcasts, critical response papers, and weekly group discussion.

Course Flow

  • Getting Started: Course Introduction & Overview
  • Lesson 01: What is Foreign Policy?
  • Lesson 02: “The American Way” of Foreign Policy
  • Lesson 03: Was the US Ever Isolationist?
  • Lesson 04: The US rise to Hegemony
  • Lesson 05: The Cold War, Containment, and "The Bomb"
  • Lesson 06: The Search for a Post-Cold War Center
  • Lesson 07: GW Bush and Neo-Sovereignty
  • Lesson 08: Obama and Bending History
  • Lesson 09: "We'll see what happens" - A Trump Doctrine?

Texts and Materials

Kaufman, Joyce P. A Concise History of U.S. Foreign Policy, 4th Edition. Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. Print. ISBN: 9781442270459. This text is available in ebook format.

Additional readings will be available online.

Regular reading of foreign policy news and opinion in the New York Times is required. Reading of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy, two foreign policy journals, is highly recommended.

Special notes

  • Pols 321 is a group start online class in which participants are expected to keep to the course schedule
  • This course is coded as a distance learning course and DOES NOT qualify for residence credit, consult with an advisor in your academic major before registering

A special note for Political Science Majors: This class counts for Field C or D requirements and is a required course for the Security Option in the major.

©2017 University of Washington. All rights reserved. 
This course is offered through or in partnership with UW Continuum College.  No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher.

Catalog Description: 
Constitutional framework; major factors in formulation and execution of policy; policies as modified by recent developments; the principal policymakers - president, Congress, political parties, pressure groups, and public opinion.
Department Requirements: 
International Relations Field
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:08pm