How do we explain U.S. foreign policy? What types of forces contribute to the contribute to the decisions we observe? This course (3.0 credits) introduces a levels-of-analysis framework that can be used to explain foreign policy. While this framework may have implications for normative questions (i.e., “What should the president do in situation X?”), our focus will be on explaining/understanding as a precursor to prescribing. In other words, if we look at something like U.S. policy toward Iran, we could spend a bunch of time arguing about what policy should be. Instead, we’re going to take policy as we find it and attempt to explain/understand why it is the way that it is. Throughout the term, we will illustrate concepts and theories and put our analytical tools to the test using current events, case studies, and a multiple-week simulation.

Spring 2016 syllabus