American National Security Policy

Course #NS3030

Est.imated Completion Time: 3 months


An overview of U.S. national security policy formulation. Covers the processes and actors involved, both governmental and non-governmental. At instructor's discretion, course might also address recent developments in U.S. national security strategy. Prerequisites: None.

Included in degrees & certificates

  • 738

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

·      articulate competing explanations for major US foreign policy decisions, connecting these to canonical texts and ongoing scholarly debates, and critiquing the available evidence.

·      acquire some familiarity with the track record of US foreign policy from the early republic through the Biden administration.

·      continually practice (and by the end of the course will master) engaging controversial themes with analytic rigor, including debates about national exceptionalism, ethnic lobbies, and religion; fickle publics, deceptive presidents, parochial legislators, and dysfunctional and defensive bureaucracy (both military and civilian); and pathological and politicized processing of information and intelligence.

·      practice applying the hypotheses and analytical skills from course readings and class meetings to a specific case through the research paper assignments. Alongside our class discussions, these written assignments help build research and writing skills in all phases, from acquiring experience in creating research questions and in using library resources, to practicing critical analysis through literature review, to (by the end of the course) mastering the analysis and evaluation of evidence in case studies. The assignments also allow students to deepen expertise on US relations with a country of interest, and perhaps to test drive a thesis topic or enhance a thesis already underway.

Ultimately, mastery of course content and analytical tools 2 will enable critical reflection on the myriad inputs and constraints that channel national security decision making, and they help students learn to think like policy analysts. This provides a foundation for future work in the Security Studies curriculum, for success in the NSA thesis process or comprehensive examination, and for effective policy analysis and advocacy after graduation.

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Application Deadlines

  •  08 Jul 2024

    Fall Quarter applications due

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Academic Calendar

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