Jennifer L Butte-Dahl
Content varies from quarter to quarter.
This course is a deep dive into the inner-workings of the U.S. Government and the complexity inherent in U.S. foreign policy decision-making. It explores the structure of the foreign affairs agencies and how they function, at home and around the world; the “Interagency Process” that governs interaction within the Executive Branch, and the role of the President, the White House, and the National Security Council; the daily interaction between the Administration and Congress; foreign assistance and the “Budget Process,” and the impact of external stakeholders on the workings of the policy-making system.
Through a conversation focused on current day issues and crises, students will probe below the surface and beyond accounts of high-level decision-making to grasp a solid understanding of how Washington, D.C. functions, and literally, how the work gets done – who is involved, what gets on the agenda and why, how domestic policy and foreign policy issues combine (and sometimes collide), the impact of personalities and ideology, the interplay of policy and politics, why the system works sometimes (and other times it doesn’t), how information flows, the importance of the national security architecture and institutional agendas, what a policy decision looks like and how it is communicated, and why decisions made it real life often differ markedly from decisions taken in a vacuum, in hindsight, and/or based solely on theory or ideology.
Student learning goals
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Class assignments and grading