United States Foreign Policy

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PSC 209

       Course Name: United States Foreign Policy

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course examines contemporary American foreign policy making and conduct within historical and international political context. Content includes an analysis of U.S. foreign policy institutions, actors, traditions, and choices. Historical case studies and current international issues used to exemplify underlying principles and values of U.S. foreign policy.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Identify and describe the impact of international politics on the strategic choices and trade offs involved in formulating the concept of national interest;
  2. Describe and explain the institutional framework of foreign policy-making and implementation in the United States;
  3. Analyze the impact of non-governmental actors on policy-making and implementation;
  4. Analyze specific historical and contemporary case-studies of American foreign policy-making and interpret its evolution;
  5. Evaluate and interpret the foreign policy choices that the United States faces in the contemporary world.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. The Foreign Policy Strategy of the United States:
    1. The International Political Context
    2. National Interest Conceptualization
    3. Theories of Foreign Policy
    4. Case Studies
  2. Foreign Policy Institutions and Actors:
    1. Governmental Institutions: the Presidency, the Congress, and the Bureaucracy
    2. Non-Governmental Actors: Interest Groups, Media, and Public Opinion
    3. Foreign Policy Decision-Making Processes and Tools
    4. Case Studies
  3. The Historical Context of American Foreign Policy:
    1. Traditions: The Nineteenth Century
    2. Foreign Policy in the First Half of the Twentieth Century
    3. Foreign Policy during the Cold War
    4. Case Studies
  4. The Foreign Policy of the United States at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century
    1. The New International System
    2. The National Security Strategy of the United States
    3. Foreign Policy Choices and Trade Offs
    4. Test Cases:

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Classes will include a variety of instructional methods such as: lectures, in class discussions, group activities, document and film analysis, and the use of new technologies.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Students will be required to:
  1. Read a standard textbook and research materials.
  2. Write outside of class the equivalent of 12-14 double -paced typed pages in the form of a term paper, summaries of journal articles, short research papers, and/or other kinds of writing.
  3. Participate in in-class and out-of-class activities.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

The most current editions of the following texts are being used:

Jentleson, American Foreign Policy: The Dynamics of Choice in the 21st Century
Snow and Brown, Beyond the Water's Edge: An Introduction to U.S. Foreign Policy
Hook and Spanier, American Foreign Policy Since World War II
Hastedt, American Foreign Policy: Past, Present, Future
Rourke, Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in American Foreign Policy
Annual Editions: American Foreign Policy

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

At least two exams will be given in addition to other required papers and assignments.

Students will also be evaluated on a combination of written assignments and in- and out -of- class assignments.

XI.   Other Course Information

Support Services: Tutoring is available in the Learning Center.

Important Dates: *

XX/XX:    Last day to withdraw and have course dropped from record
XX/XX:    Last day to change to Audit
XX/XX:    Last day for students to submit materials to make up incomplete from the previous semester
XX/XX:    Last day to withdraw from classes with a "W"

*These dates differ for each semester. You'll find the correct dates on the Academic Calendar.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at www.oakton.edu/title9/.

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at www.oakton.edu/lgbtq.

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.