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INT6150 U.S. Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad (10 studiepoeng)

This course investigates US foreign policy inside and out: It examines both the domestic determinants of U.S. foreign policy as well as foreign perspectives on and international determinants of the U.S. role in the world.

About this course:

This course will ask some big questions for us to ponder together, such as, to what degree – if at all – has the United States been a force for "good" in the world, as American politicians often argue? Do Americans and non-Americans agree on their assessment of U.S. foreign policy?

It is an ambitious course combining an overview of the history of U.S. foreign relations with analytical tools from foreign policy analysis (FPA) and international relations (IR). The course proceeds chronologically.

We will discuss and unpack important concepts such as American exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny, westward expansion, settler colonialism, imperialism, isolationism/internationalism, unilateralism/multilateralism, the liberal world order, the war on terror and America First.

We will examine whether the "liberal world order" the United States created after World War II really was "liberal," and whether it had any connection to "liberalism" in the United States. We will discuss what Americans mean when they argue that the United States is "excecptional" and ask whether non-Americans agree? We will cover historical cases such as “westward expansion,” the War of 1898, the word wars, the Cold War, the war on terror, and America First (both the 1940 and 2016 versions!).

    After completing this course, the student is expected to have acquired the following learning outcomes:


    • understand central concepts in the study of U.S. foreign relations
    • gain an awareness of the key literature on U.S. foreign relations, including academic debates within and between history and political science
    • have a good basic understanding of the history of U.S. foreign relations


    • analyze U.S. foreign policy statements, doctrines, and strategies in light of key concepts, historical cases, and theories covered on the syllabus
    • assess how domestic factors may impact U.S. foreign policy
    • assess how international factors may impact U.S. foreign and domestic policy
    • critically discuss the role of ideas, institutions, and individuals in foreign policy decision-making


    • display a critical appreciation of the various contending theories in foreign policy analysis and the complexities associated with understanding foreign policy from an American as well as non-American perspective
    • understand why the United States has acted the way it has internationally
    • appreciate the relevance of ideas and material factors in influencing U.S. foreign policy
    • decode the language of U.S. foreign policy – i.e. understand what important words and concepts actually mean.


    Developing your own research essay in two stages:

    1. Present the topic of your research essay, your thesis question and the preliminary literature you have consulted (500-750 words) Pass/fail
    2. Present your main argument and an outline of the essay (750-1000 words). Pass/fail.


    • Research essay; memo: 3500 words (+/- 10 % excluding front page and reference list, 100 % of the grade, grading system A – F).