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. 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 an additional synthesis lesson that allows 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.

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.


Part I: A Changing 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. There are two lessons aligned with Part I: 1) International Relations Terminology, and 2) Rethinking International Relations.

Part II: Conflict and Military Security

Part II explores security concerns in the United States and considers how the issues presented in Part I influence policy decisions about security. There is one lesson aligned with Part II: Interpreting Political Cartoons.


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

The Options Role Play is the key lesson in the unit, and it asks students to examine four distinct options for U.S. foreign policy in preparation for writing their own option.

Expressing Your Views

Synthesis Lesson: Students articulate their own opinions on U.S. foreign policy based on newly acquired knowledge, personally held values, and historical understanding.

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