Foreign Policy Analysis

Course Description: 

This course aims to familiarize students with the process by which foreign policy is made. In exploring this question, the course takes students on a tour through the corpus of thought on foreign policy. Broadly speaking, the course follows a traditional "levels of analysis" structure, beginning with the systemic or structural level, where we examine constraints on foreign-policy making such as balance of power considerations and alliance structures. We also consider systemic sources of foreign policy, including transnational social networks, multi-national corporations, diasporas, epistemic communities, global norms, and the democratic peace.

Learning Outcomes: 

The goals of the course are threefold. First, it aims to familiarize students with the principal alternative approaches to foreign policy as a field related to, but distinct from, international relations. Second, it enables students to participate in and contribute to contemporary debates on foreign policy-making using theoretically-informed empirical analysis. Finally, it teaches students how to research and write and deliver a foreign policy paper to assist their own government in diagnosing a problem and offering concrete policies to solve the problems. In doing so, students must give attention to both the costs and political viability of their proposal.

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
 Distinguish the causal logics of competing theories of foreign policy
 Explain foreign policy formation in concrete cases
 Test the relative explanatory value of competing theories using empirical analysis
 Undertake foreign policy analysis using process-tracing and other techniques
 Identify the policy implications of competing theories of foreign policy
 Develop, present and defend policy papers


Policy Paper (30%). Students will be expected to write a policy paper addressing a foreign policy problem facing their own country. The paper should be 2,500 to 3,000 words in length (10-12 pages double-spaced). Students should consult with me in advance about their topics. Details TBA.
(2) Presentation (15%) Students will be expected to deliver a presentation in class based on their policy paper. They should be prepared to to argue for and defend their policy position in class. Details TBA.
(3) Final Exam (40%). Students will be given an in-class final exam on the final day of class. This will be comprehensive, covering all the material in the course. Students will be allowed to take a page of notes to the final with them and will be given additional time to complete the exam, if needed.
(4) Class Participation (15%). Students are expected to attend all the seminars and participate in class discussions; since the course is highly interactive, it is essential that students attend the seminars having read the materials for that day’s class. Additional short policy readings may also be assigned for selected seminars.

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