US Foreign Policy in Action : An Innovative Teaching Text book cover
2nd Edition

US Foreign Policy in Action
An Innovative Teaching Text

ISBN 9780367616021
Published July 12, 2022 by Routledge
390 Pages 79 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

This book represents a timely exploration of the dynamics of U.S.foreign policy development. It introduces historical developments and theories of U.S. foreign policy and engages students in the politics and debates of the foreign policy process (both directly and by proxy) through innovative learning exercises. This book offers a rich understanding of the politics behind clashing perspectives towards contemporary foreign policy challenges ranging from immigration policy controversies to COVID-19 pandemic responses, climate change to the China trade war. All of these issues are presented in dynamic ways that focus on activism and engagement in the policy process—and so this text speaks directly to a new generation of college students who have mobilized to political activism. The book is intended to serve as a core text for classes on U.S. foreign policy at the 200-level or above and will appeal to a broad audience.

New to the Second Edition:

  • Provides insights on contemporary foreign policy challenges facing the Biden administration and future presidents, such as climate change, the rise of China, sanctions and trade policies, and changing U.S. engagement in the Middle East.
  • Offers stronger theoretical foundations for the study of domestic constraints in the foreign policy decision-making process, including the power of interest groups and political polarization in Congress.
  • Explains pedagogical treatments of online and hybrid learning applications, along with presenting new exercises to engage students both in person in the classroom and online.
  • Presents more detailed and critical historical analyses of U.S. foreign policy, including greater attention to the U.S. as an imperial power and its implications for politics and society.
  • Creates new and exciting active learning exercises for instructors and students, including role-playing simulations of global public health crisis management and group research projects on cybersecurity and immigration policy.
  • Enriches the graphics and illustrations of foreign policy actors and processes in a full-color presentation.
  • Analyzes contemporary foreign policy issues in the Trump and Biden administrations.
  • Adds new web components and features, some authored by undergraduate students who are becoming experts in U.S. foreign policy.
  • Includes new writing exercises and assignments designed to promote creative and critical thinking about foreign policy actors and processes.

Table of Contents

List of Tables

List of Maps and Figures

List of Photos

Preface and Acknowledgments

Chapter 1: Introduction to the Politics of U.S. Foreign Policy

Historical Foundations

Foreign Policy Challenges in the Biden Administration

The United States and the World: Foreign Policy Making in Perspective

Major Actors in the Foreign Policy Process

Pedagogical Approach: How to Use This Book

Overview of the Book

Discussion Questions

Key Terms


Chapter 2: U.S. Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy

What is Grand Strategy?

Alternative Grand Strategy Frames for U.S. Foreign Policy Positions



Box 2.1 – Case in Point: How the World Views the United States


Formulating Grand Strategy for the 21st Century


Discussion Questions

Key Terms


Chapter 3: History of U.S. Foreign Policy: A Noble Struggle?

Revolutionary Values

The Struggle to Define the New Nation

Manifest Destiny?

The Civil War

Box 3.1 – Learning Through Technology: Foreign Policy and History Online

Box 3.2 -- Case in Point: Revisiting Racism and the Founding of the United States

Rise to Globalism

Box 3.3 – Case in Point: Critical Reflection on U.S. Imperialism: A Student’s Perspective: The "American Century" and World Wars


Discussion Questions

Key Terms


Chapter 4: Modern History of U.S. Foreign Policy

The Cold War: Values and Interests

The Truman Doctrine

Korea, Cuba, and Vietnam

Box 4.1 -- Exploring Further: Espionage and the Cold War

Box 4.2 -- Exploring Further: Learning Through Popular Culture and Films

The End of the Cold War

Box 4.3 -- Case in Point: President Ronald Reagan’s "Evil Empire" Speech

Enlargement and Engagement

Box 4.4 -- Case in Point: The National Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement

Interests versus Values? The War on Terrorism

Contemporary Challenges: Obama, Trump, and Biden


Discussion Questions

Key Terms


Chapter 5: Key Institutions: Branches of Government

Constitutional Authority and the "Invitation to Struggle"

The President and the Executive Branch

Presidential Influence

Box 5.1 -- Case in Point: George W. Bush and the War on Terror

Instruments of Presidential Power

Congress: The Legislative Branch

Box 5.2 -- Learning through Technology: Congressional Hearings—

Charting a Policy Debate

The Courts: The Judicial Branch


Discussion Questions

Key Terms


Chapter 6: Leadership in Action: Debating American Engagement with the World

Structured Debate Guidelines and Rules of Procedure

Section I: Structured Debate: Leadership in Action and the Use of Military Force

Position #1: YES, The President Should Have Greater Authority in the Use of Military Force Abroad

Box 6.1 – Case in Point: President Obama, Address on Syria

Position #2: NO, The President Should Not Have Greater Authority to Use Military Force Abroad

Section II: Structured Debate: Should the United States Pursue an ‘America First’ Grand Strategy?

Position #1: YES, The United States Should Seek Hegemony + Isolation

Box 6.2 – Case in Point: President Trump Inaugural Address [Excerpts]

Position #2: NO, The United States Should Seek Partnership + Engagement

Box 6.3 – Case in Point: Greta Thunberg, Speech to the United Nations Climate Action Summit

Key Terms


Chapter 7: Bureaucracies and Unelected Actors

Bureaucracies and Foreign Policy

The Theory of Bureaucratic Politics

The Department of Defense

The Department of State

Box 7.1: Learning through Technology: Interview a Policymaker Using Web 2.0 Technology

Box 7.2: Case in Point: Becoming a Foreign Service Officer

Intelligence Bureaucracies

Box 7.3: Case in Point: Secret Wiretapping: An Intelligence Debate


Discussion Questions

Key Terms


Chapter 8: Bureaucracies in Action: A National Security Council Simulation

Simulation Scenario: Pandemic Response and Foreign Policy

Pandemics and Global Health: Background Information

Box 8.1: News Flash: The Crisis

Class Meeting #1

Class Meeting #2

Class Meeting #3

Draft Policy Statement Template

Policy Directive Template

Role Assignments

Key Terms


Chapter 9: Interest Groups and Political Parties

The Power of Unelected Actors

Interest Groups

Box 9.1: Exploring Further: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower Farewell


What Do You Want? How to Lobby Effectively

Types of Interest Groups

Box 9.2: Case in Point: Latinx Power in American Politics

Box 9.3: Learning through Technology: Hear from the Experts

Political Parties

Box 9.4: Case in Point: Red or Blue Nation?


Discussion Questions

Key Terms


Chapter 10: Interest Groups in Action: Case Studies

Section I: Environmental Policy: Interest Groups and Climate Change

A Change of Climate?

Paris Climate Agreement

Box 10.1: Exploring Further: President Obama and U.S. Support for the Paris Climate Accord

Case Discussion Questions

Section II: Trade Policy: Interest Groups and the Price of Free Trade

The U.S. Confronts Chinese Accession to the World Trade Organization

The Trump Administration and the U.S.-China ‘Trade War’

Biden’s Early Trade Policies

Case Discussion Questions

Key Terms


Chapter 11: Public Opinion and the Media

Reaching the Masses? Public Opinion and the Media

Public Opinion

Box 11.1: Case in Point: Extreme Public Opinion?

Public Attitudes and Foreign Policy: A Direct Line?

Media and Foreign Policy

The Functions of Media

Box 11.2: Case in Point: "Embedded Journalists" and the News

Contemporary Trends in Media Coverage


Discussion Questions

Key Terms


Chapter 12: Public Opinion and the Media in Action

Public Opinion and the Media in Action: Problem-Based Cooperative Learning

Research Project #1: Alternative News Media and Foreign Policy: Educating the Public?

Box 12.1: Exercise: Worksheet for Research Group #1: Media and Foreign Policy

Research Project #2: The Media and National Security: Is There a Public ‘Right to Know’?

Box 12.2: Exercise: Worksheet for Research Group #2: The Media and Government Secrecy

Research Project #3: Fake News, Social Media, and Political Bias

Box 12.3: Exercise Worksheet for Research Group #3: The Media and Political


Key Terms


Chapter 13: Blended and Hybrid Approaches to Studying Contemporary U.S. Foreign Policy

Introduction to Blended Learning

Global Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity and U.S. Interests

Cybersecurity and Grand Strategy

Blended Learning Approaches and Cybersecurity

Box 13.1: Learning through Technology: Researching Cybersecurity Online

Global Health Security

Health Security and Grand Strategy

Key Actors in Formulating Public Health Policy

Blended Learning Approaches and Global Public Health

Box 13.2: Learning through Technology: Progressive Debate on Flipgrid and Classroom Reflection


Key Terms



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Jeffrey S. Lantis is Professor of Political Science and Chair of the interdisciplinary Global & International Studies Program at The College of Wooster. He is also an Editor of International Studies Perspectives, an ISA flagship journal. He is author of several books and articles, most recently, Foreign Policy Advocacy and Entrepreneurship: How a New Generation in Congress is Shaping U.S. Engagement with the World (2019) and The Battle for U.S. Foreign Policy: Congress, Parties, and Factions in the 21st Century (2020, co-authored with Patrick Homan). He received the Distinguished Teacher-Scholar Award from the Active Learning in International Affairs Section of ISA in March of 2020.

Patrick Homan is Associate Professor of Political Science at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. He is author of Getting to 67: The Post-Cold War Politics of Arms Control Treaty Ratification (Routledge, 2015) and The Battle for U.S. Foreign Policy: Congress, Parties, and Factions in the 21st Century (2020, co-authored with Jeffrey Lantis). He has worked extensively on pedagogy-related initiatives, including co-teaching courses with other disciplines, teaching with film, and using geography in the classroom, and has received a grant and training from the Interfaith Youth Core for teaching interfaith studies.


Praise for the Second Edition of US Foreign Policy in Action

Lantis and Homan understand the challenge and the craft of teaching contemporary U.S. foreign policy. Consequently, US Foreign Policy in Action is a highly engaging and pedagogically sensitive survey of the actors, interests, and politics that shape U.S. foreign policy decisions, actions, and issues. Through interesting, structured debates, discussion questions, case studies, and other appealing features, US Foreign Policy in Action brings the foreign policy process alive, allowing readers to put themselves in the shoes of policy-makers without sharing their ulcers. Instructors and students will enjoy using this well-written and interactive textbook.

Christopher M. Jones, Bradley University

I love this textbook! While there are many worthwhile texts on the market focused on U.S. foreign policy, this one surveys all the key historical, institutional, and policy process aspects of U.S. foreign policy for an undergraduate-level course. It also incorporates imaginative and highly effective active learning assignments for the classroom on key issues that really engage students and help instructors make important connections between the conceptual and the practical. Smoothly written, highly accessible, with relevant and interesting new cases, Lantis and Homan have done an excellent job with this updated edition of US Foreign Policy in Action. I loved the first edition; I can't wait to use this new edition the next time I teach U.S. Foreign Policy.

Mary K. Meyer-McAleese, Eckerd College

Lantis and Homan enliven U.S. foreign policy with their innovative pedagogical approach. This engaging text is chock-full of activities designed to deepen student learning of concepts and issues as well as promote critical thinking, research, and communication skills. The variety of interactive learning activities will have wide appeal among students and instructors alike. Especially exciting are the Learning Through Technology exercises that employ various platforms to facilitate students' exploration of political issues, actors, and processes. The authors do not disappoint in their promise to bring foreign policy to life!

Kirsten Taylor, Berry College