Fall 2022  |  PA 5813 Section 001: US Foreign Policy: Issues and Institutions (23795)

Class Component:
3 Credits
Grading Basis:
Student Option No Audit
Instructor Consent:
No Special Consent Required
Instruction Mode:
In Person
Enrollment Requirements:
Graduate Student
Times and Locations:
Regular Academic Session
09/06/2022 - 12/14/2022
Mon, Wed 02:30PM - 03:45PM
UMTC, West Bank
Hubert H Humphrey Center 20
Enrollment Status:
Open (22 of 30 seats filled)
Also Offered:
Course Catalog Description:
Taught by the Humphrey School diplomat in residence, this course helps students develop a deep understanding of how US foreign policy institutions function, how that is being challenged, and the broader global implications of those changes. Through readings, class discussions, and guest lectures, we look at the institutions and processes involved in developing and managing US foreign policy, and use case studies to advance students' knowledge, including of how the Department of State works, and the expanding role of the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, and intelligence agencies. We examine how economic instruments like sanctions are used to advance policy; and how American citizens, lobbyists, and foreign governments influence policy. We incorporate discussions of current events into each class. Students develop writing and presentation skills critical to foreign policy careers.
Class Notes:
Class Description:

This course will examine the institutions that shape, influence and manage U.S. foreign policy. Through a combination of readings, classroom lectures and discussions, and policy-making simulations, it will provide students with a foundation of knowledge about the institutions, their origins, and culture. During the semester, the instructor, a 25-year veteran of the Foreign Service, will guide students as they delve into the way key foreign policy institutions work. We will examine the changing role of the State Department and the Foreign Service, including its decision-making and planning processes; the role of foreign assistance and USAID in foreign policy; and the emergence of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) as a leader in trade and economic policy. Through readings and discussions we look at the role of the Department of Defense and examine the argument that there has been a growing "militarization" of foreign policy, as well as look at how intelligence agencies have been used by presidents in foreign policy and have themselves impacted policy. We will examine, with a close linkage to the 2016 presidential elections, how the National Security Council has grown from a coordinating body to a foreign policy leader, and examine academic and policy critiques of and recommendations for these institutions, with a particular eye to the transition preparations the newly elected president will put into place in November. The course will also look at the role played by Congress in making and carrying out foreign policy; and examine non-governmental forces that seek to influence policy, including the media, think tanks, non-governmental organizations and lobbying groups, and the public as they seek to influence foreign policy. Students will have the opportunity several times during the semester to meet virtually with Washington policy-makers who will join the class via Skype to provide their insights on real time iss and institutional realities. The impact of the 2016 election will be woven into the course, in particular with regard to the transition process.

The goal of the course is to develop in students interested in global careers an understanding of how the Washington foreign policy process works and an opportunity to think critically about those processes. Students will have the chance to engage in practical writing and negotiating exercises that will deepen their understanding of policy processes, including learning to think and write critically about the competing priorities and interests policy-makers must grapple with.

Students will be graded on an A-F basis. Grading will be as follows:

10% Short Policy Memo (300-500 words) summarizing an assigned issue. Examples will be given and reviewed before the assignment..

15% Negotiation and Policy Memo Writing Exercise (3 class periods) Over three class periods, the class will write a consensus policy memo to the newly elected president on a complex major foreign policy issue on which there are differences among departments (eg., China). Students will write one paragraph as the contribution of their assigned bureau or department; negotiate with other students consensus language and assist in writing a consensus memo; and orally brief their bureau's recommendation.

45% Class Participation - Students will be expected to attend participate fully in class discussions, offering their own informed opinions, role playing, and making formal presentations as required. Students must complete the assigned reading and remain abreast of key foreign policy developments.

30% Final Paper--A final paper, 2,500-3,000 words, with research footnoted, will be due on December 15. Students must meet with professor by November 1 to discuss the topic of their paper, which must address either a policy or institutional foreign policy issue.

Class Format:
Lecture and discussion, based on assigned readings and current events. There will be practical writing exercises, and one simulation exercise with a negotiation, presentation, and writing component.
In addition to writing exercises above, there is about 50-100 pages of reading per session, in addition to an expectation that students will keep up on events in U.S. foreign policy.
Past Syllabi:
http://classinfo.umn.edu/syllabi/mtcurtin_PA5813_Fall2016.pdf (Fall 2016)
Instructor Supplied Information Last Updated:
25 August 2016

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