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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jennifer L Butte-Dahl
JSIS 478
Seattle Campus

Special Topics

Content varies from quarter to quarter.

Class description

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 in real life often differ markedly from decisions taken in a vacuum, in hindsight, and/or based solely on theory or ideology.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


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 Jennifer L Butte-Dahl
Date: 10/17/2013