What role should the United States play in the world?
Eighth edition. September 2018.

From the first days of the republic, people in the United States have debated how to balance their priorities at home with their involvement in international affairs. Today, the United States is considering its domestic needs and reassessing its international relationships. An array of economic, political, and social transformations are taking place both at home and abroad.  For example, how should the United States address climate change? Nuclear weapons? Poverty and inequality? Consensus about how to address these issues 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 identify global issues, assess national priorities, and decide for themselves the role the United States should play in the world.


Readings explore the forces that shape the U.S. role in the world. Part I examines several pressing issues facing the United States and the world today: the economy, human health and the environment, international relations, and human rights. Part II explores security concerns for the United States and considers how the issues presented in Part I influence policy decisions about security. Part II addresses recent wars and interventions, and three critical security issues facing the United States: nuclear weapons, terrorism, and cyber security and warfare.

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.


International Relations Terminology

Students organize key terms into conceptual categories to gain familiarity with issues and terms that are useful for discussing international relations.

Rethinking International Relations

Students identify the issues, values, and assumptions integral to the debate about international affairs as they analyze different perspectives on international relations.

Interpreting Political Cartoons

Students explore a range 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 newly acquired knowledge, personally held values, and historical understanding.

Supplemental Resources

Additional reference material for added context and support.


Cleveland, William L. and Martin Bunton. A History of the Modern Middle East, Sixth Edition. Boulder: Westview, 2016.

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

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

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

Roberts, J. Timmons, David Ciplet, and Mizan Khan. Power in a Warming World: The New Geopolitics of Climate Change. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, Fall 2015.

Sen, Amartya. Development as Freedom. New York: Knopf, 1999.

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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