What should drive U.S. decisions about foreign aid?
Fifth edition. October 2013.

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.


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.

Preview this unit. Preview includes the Table of Contents for the Student Text and the Teacher Resource Book as well as a student reading excerpt and one lesson plan.


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.

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

  • PowerPoint of graphs used in the Day 1 lesson, “Data Analysis: Tracking the Millennium Development Goals”

  • Slideshow to be used with the Day 2 lesson, “Considering the Impact of U.S. Policy”

  • Videos to be used with the, “Data Analysis: Tracking the Millennium Development Goals”

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