Content varies from quarter to quarter.
Congress and Russian-American Relations
The course will be taught as a practicum, modeled after the successful Task Force series of courses for advanced undergraduates. After a few weeks of review of the complex Congressional process of budget, authorizations, and appropriations, various state and non-state actors who influence that process, and a review of case studies of past Congressional involvement in Soviet-American and Russian-American relations, the course will focus on current critical legislation considered by Congress in Russian-American relations (debates of foreign assistance to Russia, hearings on Russian foreign policy, the American antimissile defense plan for Central Europe, the possible membership of Russia in the World Trade Organization, and debates about lifting the Jackson-Vanik amendment that links Russia's trade status in the American market to its domestic performance on human rights issues.
Then, students will pare off into groups and put together a model Statement of Administration Policy (SAP), which represents the principal written means by which the executive branch transmits its views on pending legislation to the Congress. SAPs could be written on a number of pieces of legislation affecting Russia, including the annual State Department and Foreign Operations appropriation bill, a must-pass piece of legislation. The model SAP process enables students to put themselves in the place of executive branch officials in various government agencies who are responsible for recommending to the President whether legislation concerning Russia should be accepted, modified, or vetoed. As a way of enhancing the practical experience, actual hearing, markup, and floor action debates of the Congress will be utilized, SAPs will be completed before their actual counterparts in the Washington policy process, enabling students after the class is over to see how their work compared to that of actual executive branch officials.
Through this simulation, students receive a very practical understanding of how Congress and its members and committees quite specifically involves themselves formally and informally, in the making of U.S. policy toward Russia. In addition to participation in model SAPs, students will be asked to prepare papers describing and analyzing Congressional action in various issues as they affect foreign policy with Russia (foreign assistance, trade debates, antimissile defense authorizations and appropriations) and commenting on the effectiveness of Congressional actions, including recommendations for possible structural improvements in the way Congress does business on issues regarding Russian-American relations. An outside evaluator, acting the role of the President of the United States as students present the SAPs to the evaluator also adds considerably to the learning experience of students.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
lecture, extensive handouts reviewed together with instructor
Reading textbooks and handouts carefully, familiarizing oneself with Library of Congress and Office of Management and Budget web pages
Class assignments and grading
Model SAP and individual research paper; grading is 1/3 on the model SAP, 1/3 on the individual research paper, and 1/3 class participation.