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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Robert D Burrowes
SIS 422
Seattle Campus

The United States in the Contemporary International System

United States in the world: ways in which international circumstances shape the political-strategic, economic, and cultural dimensions of America's policy. Case studies from post-1945 period. Recommended: one international relations or foreign policy course.

Class description

This is a course on the external behavior and foreign policy of the United States in the contemporary international system—i.e., the system which began to take form after the end of the Cold War. What are the key features of the still emerging new international system, and how do they compare to those of the system in, say, the 19th century, the pre-World War II 20th century, and the post-WW II period down to roughly 1990? What were the major features of U.S. external behavior and foreign policy in each of these earlier systems? Given the features of the now emerging system, what are, might be, or should be the key features of U.S. external behavior and foreign policy in the first decade of the new millennium? Is this the “new American century,” as the neoconservatives claim? Are we charged with creating and assuring a “New World Order”? Is there, should there be, an “American mission?” To the extent that there should be, is it fighting rogue states, waging the War against Terrorism, fostering globalization, engaging in nation-building and police actions, etc? What about non-proliferation and disarmament? Fighting disease, hunger and poverty?

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

This is essentially a reading, lecture and discussion course. The open-ended lectures will be designed to facilitate and encourage discussion of the readings. You are expected to attend classes, to be on time and to participate in discussions—your participation will be a part of your grade.

Recommended preparation

Sign up for the daily New York Times (there is a reduced rate available at the HUB).

Class assignments and grading

There will be a mid-term and a final exam, and at least one of them will be a take-home exam. In addition, you must Monday through Friday read and clip from the New York Times articles relevant to the course—and submit a clipping file at quarter’s end. This current events material will figure into class discussions and the exams. (If possible, sign up now at the Hub for the NYT at a reduced rate—no, the NYT online is not acceptable).

Roughly 70% of the grade will be based on the mid-term and final. The rest of the grade will be based on the clipping file (20%) and class participation (10%).


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by M Jane Meyerding
Date: 01/26/2007