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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Peter Harris

PhD, University of Texas at Austin

Peter Harris



Beginning in Fall 2015, I'll be an Assistant Professor in Political Science at Colorado State University.  You can view my personal website here or find me on or Twitter.


International Relations and American Politics

GOV F312L • Issues & Policies In Amer Gov

84785 • Summer 2014
Meets MTWTHF 1000am-1130am MEZ 1.306
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Peter Harris


No pre-requisites.


Course description

This is a course on U.S. foreign policy.  It is designed to help students think critically about how the U.S. decides upon its foreign policy objectives and how it goes about achieving them.  In addition, students will learn to consider the impacts of U.S. foreign policy.  The course is divided into three sections.  The first (introductory) section considers the issues at stake when studying U.S. foreign policy and provides a brief overview of common analytic approaches.  The second section comprises the bulk of the class material and is sub-divided into sections dealing with (A) the primary institutions governing U.S. foreign policy, (B) the principal actors who deal with foreign policy and (C) the ideas that underpin America’s role in the world.  The final section turns to evaluate the impact of U.S. foreign policy, both abroad and at home.  Class time will be divided roughly equally between lecture and discussion and so students must be prepared to do the assigned reading and share their thoughts with others.


Course goals

Students who complete this course will be able to provide their own, informed answer to the question: what (and who) determines U.S. foreign policy?  They will be able to think critically about and evaluate the actions of the United States abroad and will become educated ‘consumers’ of contemporary foreign policy.  Students will practice thinking analytically, using theories and concepts to interpret, understand and explain political phenomena.  Last, students will gain an opportunity to hone their communication skills—oral and written.



There will be two in-class exams, each worth 30 percent, and two short take-home assignments worth 15 percent each.  Details will be announced in class.  In-class participation and quizzes will account for the remaining 10 percent of students’ final grades.  Letter grades for the essays and the exams, and for the course as a whole, will correspond to the following numeric scores:

93+ = A
90-92 = A-
87-89 = B+
83-86 = B
80-82 = B-
77-79 = C+
73-76 = C
70-72 = C-
67-69 = D+
63-66 = D
60-62 = D-
59 or below = F

Without exception, we will round up scores of 0.5 and higher and round down scores of less than 0.5.



All readings will be available online.

Please note that some readings are longer in length than others and so students should be prepared to budget their time accordingly.  The success of this class depends upon students being able to competently discuss readings—and the ideas that these generate—in class.

GOV 360N • America As A Global Power

39235 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm GAR 0.102
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Six hours of lower-division Government      


Course Description  

This class examines the evolution of American statecraft since World War II, with special emphasis on the president’s role in defining the nation’s interests.  Drawing on historical and contemporary cases, we will consider how international power and domestic politics shape the president’s geopolitical priorities and how those priorities have changed over time.  The course is designed to increase your knowledge of how US foreign policy is made and why America’s leaders pursue the grand strategies they do.      


Grading Policy  

Grades based on three in-class exams.      




John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment (Oxford 2005)

David Sanger, Confront and Conceal (Simon and Schuster, 2012)

Peter Trubowitz, Politics and Strategy (Princeton 2011)

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