PSCI 3500 - Course Policies

  PSCI 3500




Course Description

This course provides an overview to the study of American foreign policy. We will study the theories and process of making US foreign policy and then use that as a foundation for examining moments in America's relations with the rest of the world over the past several decades. Finally, we will analyze key foreign policy challenges facing the US at the moment and into the future.

Learning Outcomes


    • Contending views of our place in the world and the nature of international relations.
    • Some history of foreign policy (how we got to where we are).
    • How foreign policy is made (the "sausage").
    • Our challenges (spoiler: there are more than a few).
    • Looking to the future (it's not just arms and trade).


    • You will strengthen your critical thinking skills, especially (but not exclusively) by remembering the following guidelines:
    • Complex problems have complex and multiple causes. Simplistic explanations lead to simplistic solutions that don't work.
    • Correlation is not causation. (It might suggest a causal relationship, but it's not a given.)
    • Evidence and inference guide our conclusions. Not ideology, not preconceptions and not emotion.
    • There is never only one side to a conflict. Rarely is one party always right.

Academic Freedom:

You have the right to engage in reasoned disagreement with me without any penalty to your grade. I have the right to challenge any belief, ideology, worldview, or attitude you have, including those beliefs you hold sacred. Students likewise have this right with each other and me. Everyone has the right to express his or her views without fear of bullying or reprisal. I or another student may ask you to support your view with evidence, logic, or an expression of values, just as you may ask of me or anyone else in class. Respectful disagreements and challenges should not be seen as attacks or insults, but as part of the reasoned dialogue we engage in as students, professors, and citizens. Look at disagreements as an opportunity to explore your own views as well as attempt to see an alternative viewpoint as if it were your own, even if only temporarily in order to understand it better. Understand that intellectual discomfort is a stepping stone to better understanding all points of view – even our own. And it is a critical foundation for learning.


One text is required:

    • Bruce Jentleson, American Foreign Policy: The Dynamics of Choice in the 21st Century(Fifth Edition).

This book is available at the campus bookstore or from one of the online retailers (Amazon, Abebooks,, etc.) where you can find used copies for as little as half the cost of a new copy. Just make sure you get the correct edition (5th). Also note that the text is on course reserve at Waldo.

    Requirements and Grading

    Quizzes 25% (5% ea)

    Assignments 30% (5% ea)

    Exam I: 15%

    Exam II: 15%

    Final Exam: 15%

    Exams and Quizzes

    Exams in this class will be in essay format with some identification/short answer questions. Quizzes will be multiple choice and true/false. Quizzes are offered within specific dates with deadlines (see next section on "oops" passes.)

    Submission of Papers and Assignments

    All papers and assignments in the class will be submitted electronically to through the elearning dropbox. I will not accept hard copies under any circumstance. Papers must be either completed in Microsoft Word or be fully compatible with it. PDF files are also acceptible. Typically, Microsoft Works will not be acceptable.

    Late Assignments and Oops Passes

    Assignments are expected to be in on time except for extraordinary circumstances.* Penalties for late papers are high. If turned in later than the midnight deadline of the due date, and any time in the ensuing 24 hour period, the penalty is one full grade. An additional full grade is deducted if turned in during the second 24 hour period after the deadline, and so on.

    *Extraordinary circumstances do not include:

    • I got behind and it took longer to do than I thought.
    • My computer froze (save, save, save).
    • My computer crashed (backup, backup, backup).
    • The internet was congested when I tried to access the sites (see point #1).
    • I had other deadlines that week (see point #1).

    However, given the fact that we are in extraordinary times (The Time of Covid), each student will have three "oops" passes that can be used to compensate for missed deadlines (think: get-out-of-jail-free cards if you know the Monopoly game). Each "oops" will give you one additional week to complete the assignment or quiz, no questions asked. Note that they do not apply to exams; if you must miss an exam deadline, you must let us know in advance to be able to make it up.

    Office Hours and Open Discussion Times

    Both Gleb (the TA) and I will keep scheduled office hours on Webex. I plan to canvass the class to find out preferred times before we post them. We will also be available by appointment.

    Occasionally throughout the semester, we may schedule open discussion gatherings, also on webex. These will be entirely voluntary and may be devoted to current events, the campaign, or course material. We will vary the times to be as inclusive as possible. You will receive notification of such discussion gatherings in advance.


    With one exception, all videos in this course -- whether mine or out on the internet -- are captioned. To turn them on, click on the cc button at the bottom of the video. If you are visually impaired, let me know and I will take care to read all quotes and describe important graphics and maps.


    I will communicate with you often. You are responsible for monitoring communications. To communicate with me or the teaching assistant, you should use email (do not leave voice messages on my office phone). We will do everything we can to answer your email message promptly. Please help us distinguish between important messages from you and annoying spam from pranksters and criminals by using your WMU address or by writing within the elearning system.

    Submission of Assignments

    All papers and assignments in the class will be submitted to the elearning dropbox. Follow instructions on the assignments page.

    University Policies on Academic Integrity and Sexual Harassment

    Students are responsible for making themselves aware of and understanding the University policies and procedures that pertain to Academic Honesty. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse. The academic policies addressing Student Rights and Responsibilities can be found in the Undergraduate Catalog. If there is reason to believe you have been involved in academic dishonesty, you will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. You will be given the opportunity to review the charge(s) and if you believe you are not responsible, you will have the opportunity for a hearing. You should consult with your instructor if you are uncertain about an issue of academic honesty prior to the submission of an assignment or test.

    Students and instructors are responsible for making themselves aware of and abiding by the “Western Michigan University Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, and Stalking Policy and Procedures” related to prohibited sexual misconduct under Title IX, the Clery Act and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Campus Safe. Under this policy, responsible employees (including instructors) are required to report claims of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator or designee (located in the Office of Institutional Equity). Responsible employees are not confidential resources. For a complete list of resources and more information about the policy see


    In addition, students are encouraged to access the Code of Conduct, as well as resources and general academic policies on such issues as diversity, religious observance, and student disabilities:

    Office of Student Conduct

    Diversity and Inclusion

    Registrar’s Office

    Religious Observances Policy

    Disability Services for Students


    Students who take this class must be prepared to submit electronic copies of their assignments. The university expects that all students will be evaluated and graded on their own work. If you use language, data or ideas from other sources, published or unpublished, you must take care to acknowledge and properly cite those sources. Failure to do so constitutes plagiarism. To deter plagiarism, encourage responsible student behavior, improve student learning and ensure greater accountability, assignments for this class will be run through plagiarism detection software. If the results of the report may be used to charge you with plagiarism, you will be notified of the result of the report, and you will be given the opportunity to respond per the regular institutional process and procedures that govern student academic conduct. If you are found to be responsible for plagiarism in the academic integrity review process, you will receive an E for the course.

    Grading Scale


    100-93% = A

    92-88% = BA

    87-83% = B

    82-78% = CB

    77-73% = C

    72-68% = DC

    67-60% = D

    below 60% = E


    150-140 = A

    139-132 = BA

    131-125 = B

    124-117 = CB

    116-110 = C

    109-102 = DC

    101-90 = D

    below 90 = E

    Semester Points

    1000-930 = A

    929-880 = BA

    879-830 = B

    829-780 = CB

    779-730 = C

    729-680 = DC

    679-600 = D

    below 600 = E