What should drive U.S. decisions about foreign aid?
Fifth edition. October 2013.
PREVIEW THIS UNIT. The preview includes the table of contents, a student reading excerpt, and one lesson plan. PREVIEW ALL UNITS. Additional unit descriptions for the Current Issues Series that summarize the historical context, student readings, and skill development are available on this MIRO BOARD.

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. The unit is divided into two parts. Each part includes:

  • Student readings
  • Accompanying study guides, graphic organizers, and key terms
  • Lessons aligned with the readings that develop analytical skills and can be completed in one or more periods
  • Videos that feature leading experts

This unit also includes an Options Role Play as the key lesson and additional synthesis lessons that allow students to synthesize new knowledge for assessment. You do not need to use the entire unit; feel free to select what suits your classroom needs.

“I use Choices curriculum to dive deeper into critical thought regarding content areas associated with the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. Choices curriculum provides depth in international content that is easily accessible for high school students so they can then consider the United States’ history, its place in the world, and foreign policy options.” – Rhonda, Social Studies Teacher, Montana

Part I: An Overview of U.S. Foreign Aid

Part I covers the historical context of foreign aid policy and the domestic and international institutions involved. There are two lessons aligned with Part I: 1) Data Analysis: Tracking the Millennium Goals, and 2) Contradictions of U.S. Aid Policy During the Cold War.

Part II: Case Studies in Aid Policy

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 United States provides assistance to other countries. There is one lesson aligned with Part II: Considering the Impact of U.S. Policy.


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

The Options Role Play is the key lesson in the unit, and it asks students to examine three distinct options for U.S. foreign aid policy to present in a role play set in the U.S. Senate in preparation for writing their own option.

Joining the Debate on U.S. Policy

Synthesis Lesson: 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.

Synthesis Lesson: 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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