Democracy or Empire in U.S. Foreign Policy: Contending Visions

Fall 2021
Winter 2022
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 25
16 Credits per quarter
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This program incorporates Greener Foundations. Greener Foundations is Evergreen’s 2-quarter introductory student success course, which provides all first-year students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive at Evergreen. First year students will get 14-credits from this program, and 2-credits from a Greener Foundations course. First year students will need to register for the 14-credit program CRN PLUS Greener Foundations (CRN 20008). 

In this foundational (first year - senior) program, students will learn about contending visions of U.S. foreign policy for the twenty-first century. Since the end of the Cold War, many policy makers and critics have argued that the U.S. should no longer act unilaterally as a global military and economic power and should adopt a more limited and mutually beneficial engagement with the world: the U.S, should be a democratic republic and not an empire. But the Bush administration's response to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 was dominated by the bold Neoconservative vision of renewing American empire and military supremacy in the name of spreading democracy, resulting in numerous wars in the Middle East. Since then, many have proposed alternative visions to Neoconservatism that range from non-interventionist Realism and economically focused Neoliberalism to President Trump's Isolationist 'America First' vision, while others propose more social justice-oriented ecological and anti-imperialist visions.

The program will serve as an introduction to contemporary political theory and global politics by helping students identify these different visions and their theoretical basis in Liberalism, Conservatism, Marxism, Neoliberalism, and other political theories. Students will focus on the foreign policy visions adopted and debated after September 11, 2001, starting with the war in in Iraq. They will read a variety of authors and thinkers who represent or criticize these visions and then will write several papers and have robust discussion comparing and evaluating them, while also exploring policies debates about the rise of China, the challenge of climate change and ending U.S. military interventions overseas.

Students will be asked to develop their own visions for America's future role in a complex and changing global order. Large classes will be conducted remotely (6 hours/week) preceded by asynchronous lectures, while smaller seminar and workshops will be conducted in person (6 hours/week). Students need to have access to WiFi and a computer for remote learning.


Fall 2021 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 10018
Fr (14): 10021
Winter 2022 Registration

Signature Required

Some students with background either in the history of U.S. foreign policy or contemporary global politics may be admitted with a Faculty Signature for Winter quarter.  Please contact the faculty by email with a brief description of your background in this area if interested. 

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 20161
Fr (14): 20164

Academic details

Preparatory for studies and careers in

Politics, Public Policy, International Affairs, Law

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing


In Person or Remote
In Person (F)
In Person (W)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting