James K. Wellman
Reading and discussion of selected works of major importance in interdisciplinary international studies. Restricted to majors in International Studies.
America and the World: Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy
The power and impact of religion has shadowed America’s foreign policy across our history. It evoked the early sense of exceptionalism, John Winthrop’s “The city upon a hill,” and undergirded American unilateralism; it supported the Monroe Doctrine to keep at bay European powers (including Roman Catholicism), and inspired Manifest Destiny as the natural growth of an Anglo Saxon Protestant vanguard; it constructed a missional ideology in progressive imperialism, and under-wrote the liberal internationalism of Woodrow Wilson; it added a moral content to containment to defend against the evils of communism; and finally, it bolstered the rise of the NGO movement and galvanized the global meliorism of our recent history. Recent research on the relation of religion, culture and US foreign policy either calls for the marginalization of religion as a toxic element in diplomatic relations or makes it the most important element in understanding America and the world. This class does neither. American religion is and will always be a factor in America’s relation to the world. The course examines historically and empirically how American religion is conceptualized in civil and ritual practices that generate emotions that shape and guide American culture, politics, and its foreign relations.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading
You will turn in five reading reports. Some of these reports will cover two books; some will cover one. Each report should be about four pages long. In it you should introduce the book and the author; explain when the book was written, the purpose of the author(s), what is new about the contents of the book how it relates to the other books in the class. You should conclude with a critical discussion of the book. In those weeks when you are writing about two books you should structure the assignment as a single comparative essay, addressing these questions in a comparative manner. Also, one research paper (6-9 pages) on a topic of your choice relating to the course.