American Foreign Policy and Political Ambitions

American Foreign Policy and Political Ambitions

Erik Brattberg

Director for Special Projects and Senior Fellow at the McCain Institute for International Leadership in Washington, an expert on European security and transatlantic relations

Course Description & Goals:

U.S. foreign policy has a huge impact on the world. That impact is widely debated among Americans and by people in many countries. This Module is designed to gain more understanding of what U.S. foreign policy is, who makes it, why is it the way it is, and how it affects the rest of the world. It will focus on policy evaluation, answering such questions as: How is national interest defined and how has it evolved? How does presidential leadership shape American foreign relations? What is the role of public opinion in US foreign policy? How does the rise of China affect American power in the international arena?


This course will be based on a combination of interactive lectures, case studies and interactive simulations incorporated into the course. The teaching style will be Socratic with opportunities for students to be engaged in the discussions.

Course Structure:

Four lecture will be given. The first one will be an introductory lecture providing an overview of US foreign policy ranging from the tools, institutions and decision-making process and the role of various actors. The second lecture will focus on the historical aspects and the great debates of US foreign policy. The third lecture focuses on contemporary foreign policy challenges for the United States in Europe, Middle East and Asia. The final lecture will be simulation for the students to apply the course to a practical real-life case of US foreign policy.

 Course Language:



Lecture 1. An introduction to US foreign policy
Lecture 2. Historical views and grand strategy
Lecture 3. Contemporary challenges for US foreign policy
Lecture 4. Case study

Short Q&A session

Erik Brattberg about his CAPS course "American Foreign Policy and Political Ambitions"

How would you explain US foreign policy in one phrase?

  • Well, US foreign policy is a complicated process that involves a multitude of competing actors, agendas and organizations.

Would you touch challenges and and possible directions of US foreign policy in regards to the newly elected president?

  • Definitely. The participants will have a case study related to it.

And what regions, specifically, will be investigated?

  • Europe, Middle East and Asia, including real-life examples of Ukraine, Syria and South China Sea.

What will learn participants from the module?

  • Not limited to, but, in general, an outstanding sense of the challenges and possible ways for the United States to address the challenges it is facing.

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