I assigned Plato’s Theaetetus this semester in my foreign policy class. It was the very first thing we read in a course that included more standard text’s like Walter Russel Mead’s Special Providence, Tom Schelling’s Arms and Influence, and selections from Andrew Bacevich’s edited volume of primary sources, Ideas and American Foreign Policy. On first glance, reading a work of political philosophy—and one which is widely considered one of the more difficult texts in the Western canon—might seem like a poor fit. But, my experiment paid off and I may continue assigning the Theaetetus or similar texts in my courses on foreign policy in the future. Its theme is epistemology, knowledge, and specifically it challenges the idea that humans can actually know anything. I have plans to write something up for a journal, but in this piece, I want to explore how it might be used in the classroom should anyone feel ambitious enough to replicate.
[Note: This is a guest post by Jerel A.Rosati of the University of South Carolina and James M. Scott of Texas Christian University. It is the final installment in our forum on Teaching US Foreign Policy. You can follow more of the conversation at #TeachForPol.]
Teaching US Foreign Policy with The Politics of United States Foreign Policy (6th ed, Cengage: 2014). By Jerel A. Rosati and James M. Scott
Using The Politics of United States Foreign Policy, we engage our students to consider the players, processes, and politics that drive U.S. decisions and involvement in the global political system. Our emphasis on the “politics” of U.S. foreign policy leads us to focus our efforts, on examining and explaining the struggle that occurs to define problems, formulate options, choose policies, and implement them in the context of a highly political process. In this endeavor, we emphasize that a variety of players play a role, and that the struggle over competing values, purposes, meanings, and interests is never far from the surface for both national security and foreign economic policy. Continue reading
[Note: This is a guest post by James M. McCormick of Iowa State University and is the third post on the Duck Forum on Teaching US Foreign Policy]
“Teaching American Foreign Policy in the 21st Century” by James M. McCormick, Iowa State University
In teaching the American foreign policy making course over the past several decades, I have always had three major goals. First, I want students to become familiar with the values and beliefs that have influenced and shaped American foreign policy from its beginning to the present, albeit with a particular emphasis since World War II. Second, I expect students to identify and analyze the principal governmental and non-governmental actors that shape America’s foreign policy choices, and how the role of those actors has changed over time. Third, I expect students to develop a sufficient conceptual framework so that they are prepared to analyze the role and issues facing the United States in the future. In essence, I adopt a “continuous learner” model toward teaching the course, since my ultimate aim is to equip students with sufficient information and analytic tools to assess future foreign policy questions, long after the class is finished. Continue reading
[Note: This is a guest post by Steven W. Hook from Kent State University and is the second post on the Duck Forum on Teaching US Foreign Policy]
“Teaching U.S. Foreign Policy in an Age of Uncertainty,” by Steven W. Hook (Kent State University)
Students of U.S. foreign policy face a unique intellectual challenge: to understand state policy making at the intersection of domestic and global governance. Their instructors, who face the same task, need to integrate the two domains in their lectures and assignments. Along the way, they confront the added burdens of making some sense of the heightened turbulence of recent world politics while also grappling with paradigmatic shifts in the field of international relations that have led some scholars to declare “the end of IR theory.” Teaching U.S. foreign policy today is more complex, but also more compelling, than ever.
My approach to U.S. foreign policy is founded upon a normative claim that citizens should be informed and engaged in public affairs, especially global politics. Continue reading
Duck of Minerva is pleased to announce the start of a four-part series of posts on teaching US Foreign Policy. The forum includes contributions from the authors of major undergraduate textbooks on U.S. foreign policy: Bruce Jentleson (Duke University), Steven Hook (Kent State), Jim McCormick (Iowa State), and James Scott (Texas Christian) and Jerel Rosati (University of South Carolina).
Bruce Jentleson initiated and coordinated the forum — as you can see below he has also set up a Twitter hashtag #TeachForPol to continue this discussion. In setting up the forum, Continue reading
[Note: This is a guest post by Bruce Jentleson from Duke University. It is the first in a four-part forum on teaching US Foreign Policy.]
Six Concepts in Teaching American Foreign Policy by Bruce Jentleson
As the Cold War went on, among scholars and teachers of American foreign policy there was some settling in to a sense that we knew the questions – containment? nuclear deterrence? Bretton Woods stability? —- and were mostly debating the answers. Since the end of the Cold War there’s been renewed debate over what the questions themselves are. While this bears broadly on IR, it has been especially true for American foreign policy – making the subject as intellectually invigorating as it has been policy challenging.
This was the context in which I wrote the first edition of my American Foreign Policy: The Dynamics of Choice in the 21st Century (W.W. Norton, 5th edition 2013). The intent has been to serve courses which are more focused on U.S. foreign policy than Intro to IR ones, and broader than ones with regional foci. While the world is not as US-centric as it used to be, how the US handles its 21st century transition has been having and will continue to have broad impact on the rest of IR. And while courses like US-China relations and US-Middle East delve into depth on particular areas, general survey AFP courses provide broad context and framework.
I characterize my AFP teaching approach in six respects: Continue reading