Document Type

Undergraduate Syllabus


Spring 2023



Course Number

DIPL 3115

Course Description

This seminar-like course is focused on the Washington policy process in several dimensions: key actors, institutions and principles that influence the formation of US foreign policy and, more broadly, the conduct of and relationship between U.S. domestic and foreign policy. With Washington as its laboratory and testing ground, the course sets out to explore the growing number of players engaged in policymaking and the ever-expanding range of challenges the United States faces in a changing domestic and world order. Topics will range from responding to a pandemic and economic crisis to addressing the nation's challenges of polarization, an apparent crisis in federalism, voting rights, racial division, inequality and social injustice. The course will focus on the opportunities and constraints Washington policy makers encounter on a daily basis. It will explore the dynamic interaction between domestic and foreign policy in the aftermath of the consequential elections of November 2020, the January 6 insurrection, the second impeachment of President Donald Trump, the 2022 mid-term elections and the initial two years of the Joe Biden presidency. Considerable attention will be given to the institutional foundations of American democracy: The Constitution, the Presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court as well as critical cabinet departments, particularly Defense, State, Homeland Security, and the intelligence community. Consideration will also be given to recurrent themes such as American exceptionalism and greatness versus national division and negative partisanship.

The course to the extent possible will be conducted in seminar form, based on discussions, reflections, debates and interactions between the seminar leader and the students. When possible, outside experts will be invited to address the class. Regrettably COVID-19 partially limits the ability for in-person meetings and visits to federal buildings, think tanks and other Washington institutions. The hope is, as we return to a classroom setting, that in-person meetings and site visits will resume.

One caveat: This syllabus is not set in stone, especially in a period of rapid developments on the domestic and international scenes. The seminar leader reserves the right to alter readings and assignments and discussion topics in response to emerging policy challenges and significant events.