International Relations: US Grand Strategy in the 21st Century

Taught by Professor Amy Oakes

  • 3 credit hours
  • COLL 300

DC Winter Seminars welcomes Professor Amy Oakes to lead the 2020 International Relations Seminar!

U.S. Grand Strategy in the 21st Century

This course examines the global threats and opportunities confronting the United States in the 21st century and the efforts of policymakers to navigate them. 

One approach to this challenge is to design a “grand strategy,” which outlines a plan for how the United States’ resources (its ‘means’) can be employed to achieve its short and long-term foreign policy goals (its ‘ends’). From isolationism in the 1930s to neo-conservatism in the 2000s, the question of which (and even whether) grand strategy should guide U.S. foreign policy has been vigorously contested.

This course will explore the debate over the future of U.S. grand strategy. We will begin by investigating:

  • the meaning of “grand strategy”; 
  • the objectives the United States can pursue in its foreign policy; and 
  • the tools—from diplomacy, trade, and foreign aid to military force—which Washington can employ to achieve its objectives.

The course will then survey alternative visions for U.S. grand strategy and the factors that influence the success of these approaches. The course will conclude with a discussion of whether President Trump has a grand strategy, as well as the utility of crafting a grand strategy (or not). Each of these questions will be examined in light of the complex and changing threats to U.S. security in the 21st century. 

Guest lectures and site visits will include representatives from organizations, such as:

  • National Security Council
  • National Counterterrorism Center
  • S. Department of Defense
  • S. Department of State
  • Center for a New American Security
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • The White House
  • Brookings Institute
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • And more….