Issues and Challenges in American Foreign Policy


Random monument in Osnabrück, Germany.
Students taking PLS 341 (Issues and Challenges in American Foreign Policy) should seek to study several key problems of contemporary American foreign policy. The course will cover several theories of foreign policy, aspects specific to the American political system, and several case studies highlighting these aspects. Additional case studies covered will include terrorism, nuclear proliferation, globalization, human rights, and oil dependency. As this course fundamentally deals with current issues, additional classroom discussion and assignments will center on applications of theories and history to current events.

Required Texts

The following two books are required for this course. The first of the two emphasizes the theoretical basis for the course, while the second offers case studies and illustrations of those theories as they occurred in reality. Both are available from the CU bookstore.
  • Chittick, William O. 2006. American Foreign Policy: A Framework for Analysis. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
  • Hook, Steven W., and John Spanier. 2007. American Foreign Policy Since World War II, 17th ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
This course focuses on both the theoretical and the practical aspects of US foreign policy. For the uninitiated, it is quite easy to sink into cynicism, sarcasm, and despair when examining the gulf between our stated objectives and the results of our actions. However, all is not lost. Careful consideration both of stated goals and of theories of power suggest that we are less hypocritical and more idealistic than often given credit for being.
But, what are our policies? From where do we get our foreign policy ‘doctrines’? This course seeks to help you answer these questions. In addition to two examinations and weekly event surveys, the course will have three papers designed to teach you how to write policy studies.