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Foreign Aid

Dilemmas of Foreign Aid: Debating U.S. Policies

Fifth edition. October 2013.

Overview

Why does the United States provide foreign aid to other countries? Is it to help the world's poor, or does aid promote other U.S. policy objectives? In Dilemmas of Foreign Aid: Debating U.S. Policies, students explore the history of U.S. foreign assistance and the institutions that distribute aid today. Readings, case studies, and primary sources prepare students to consider the trade-offs of foreign aid and articulate their own views on the future direction of U.S. policy.

Readings

The readings prepare students to thoughtfully consider the policy choices facing the United States. Part I covers the historical context of foreign aid policy and the domestic and international institutions involved. Part II examines four case studies that highlight the types of foreign aid—humanitarian, military and security, economic, and development—and the dilemmas that can arise when the U.S. provides assistance to other countries.

The Choices Role Play

Students work cooperatively in groups to explore policy options for U.S. foreign aid. Groups act as senators or aid recipients from the four case studies. By exploring policy alternatives and the perspectives of those receiving aid, students gain a deeper understanding of the competing values and assumptions that frame the current debate on U.S. foreign aid policy.

Lessons

Data Analysis: Tracking the Millennium Development Goals
Students compare global and regional statistics on extreme poverty levels to assess the progress made toward reaching the first Millennium Development Goal, to reduce extreme global poverty.

Contradictions of U.S. Aid Policy During the Cold War
Using the Alliance for Progress in El Salvador as a case study, students analyze foreign aid policy during the Cold War and evaluate the impact of the Alliance for Progress.

Considering the Impact of U.S. Policy
In groups, students draw upon information from the four case studies (food insecurity in the Sahel, Plan Colombia, the Greek debt crisis, and HIV/AIDS) to create posters that illustrate different perspectives on U.S. foreign aid policy.

Role-Playing the Three Options
Students work cooperatively in groups to present different U.S. policy options to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the U.S. Senate, and consider the implications of these policies for aid recipients.

Joining the Debate on U.S. Policy
Armed with the historical knowledge and a sense of their own values, students articulate their own option for U.S. foreign aid policy and apply their policy recommendations to four country profiles: Malawi, Egypt, Indonesia, and Haiti.

Looking at U.S. Foreign Aid
Students explore the range of U.S.-funded foreign aid projects by examining photographs of current and past programs throughout the world.


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