How should the United States balance its priorities at home with its involvement abroad?
Seventh edition. June 2015.

From the first days of the republic, U.S. citizens have debated how to balance their priorities at home with their involvement in international affairs. Today, the United States continues to wrestle with the task of balancing domestic needs and international concerns. An array of economic, political, cultural, and social problems exist both at home and abroad. For example, how should the United States address climate change? Terrorism? Humanitarian crises? Poverty and inequality? Consensus about how to address these problems and others is hard to achieve. Nevertheless, a healthy democracy requires debate and discussion about the values and policies that shape the United States’ place in the world.

The U.S. Role in a Changing World helps students reflect on global changes, assess national priorities, and decide for themselves the role the United States should play in the world today.


Readings explore the forces that shape the U.S. role in the world. Part I reviews three critical turning points in the history of U.S. foreign policy: the Spanish-American War, World War I, and the post-World War II period. Part II examines several pressing issues facing the United States and the world today: the economy, human health and the environment, international relations, and culture and values. Part III explores security concerns in the United States and considers how the issues presented in Part II influence policy decisions about security. It addresses wars and interventions in the 1990s (the Persian Gulf War, Somalia, and Yugoslavia), more recent conflicts (Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria), and three critical security issues facing the U


International Relations Terminology

By organizing key terms into four broad conceptual categories, students gain familiarity with issues and terms that are useful for learning about and discussing international relations.

Rethinking International Relations

Analyzing different perspectives on international relations, students begin to identify the issues, values, and assumptions integral to the debate about international affairs. Sources address a range of issues, including globalization, climate change, economic justice, the Arab Spring, government surveillance, and the use of drones.

Examining Global Opinion

This lesson presents students with sets of data from the Pew Global Attitudes Project. Questions enable students to read, interpret, and think critically about the data. The data addresses global opinion on international trade, the use of military force, terrorism, foreign perceptions of the United States, and more.

Interpreting Political Cartoons

Students explore a broad spectrum of opinions on U.S. foreign policy by interpreting political cartoons from around the world.

The Options Role Play

Working cooperatively, students explore four different options for U.S. foreign policy in a role-play activity.

Expressing Your Views

Students articulate their own opinions on U.S. foreign policy based on personally held values and historical understanding.

Supplemental Resources

Additional reference material for added context and support.


Andreas, Peter. Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014). 472 pages.

Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1999). 496 pages.

Mearsheimer, John. The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003). 576 pages.

Nye, Joseph S., Jr. Is the American Century Over? (Malden: Polity Press, 2015). 152 pages.

Parmar, Inderjeet, Linda B. Miller, and Mark Ledwidge, eds. Obama and the World: New Directions in U.S. Foreign Policy, Second Edition. (New York: Routledge, 2014). 342 pages.

Sen, Amartya. Development as Freedom (Knopf: New York, 1999). 366 pages.

Choices' Teaching with the News program provides online lessons and resources on a range of current international issues.
Provides a comprehensive analysis
 of the total human, economic, social, and political costs of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Includes statistics, graphs, and links to scholarly papers.
A leading mainstream publication on international affairs topics.
A PBS news program with in-depth interviews with world leaders.
Provides resources on global issues, including development, security, health, human rights, and terrorism.
The official website of the United Nations.
Offers information on U.S. foreign policy.
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