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University of Oklahoma

[IAS 5940] Topics - International Studies - 106

Alain Mcpherson

Course Description

Topics in International Studies: History of US Diplomatic History


This course focuses on the establishment and evolution of U.S. foreign policy from 1776 to the present. It introduces key events and currents and the roles of key players, including the President, National Security Council, State Department, and Congress, in the development of U.S. foreign policy.

This is primarily a lecture course, but with significant use of multimedia sources and class discussions based on documents — text, video, and so on — viewed together in class. Lively and engaged participation from the students is expected. 

Class Dates, Format, Location and Hours

DatesJuly 25-31, 2022
FormatVirtual. Classes on Zoom and Canvas
HoursMonday - Friday 6:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; Saturday 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sunday 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Last day to enroll or drop without penaltyJune 26, 2022

Site Director

NameFrances Wolf, M.Ed.
DSN and CIV phone703-233-0058

Professor Contact Information

Course ProfessorAlan (Alain) McPherson
Mailing Address1115 W. Berks St, Room 914, Philadelphia, PA, 19122
Telephone Number(202) 255-1643
Professor availabilityThe professor will be available via e-mail to students before and after the class sessions. On-site office hours are half an hour before and after each class session, by appointment.

Textbook(s) and Instructional Materials

Student materials are available at the OU Bookstore Website at The website has book selling, renting, buying, returning, and order tracking capabilities. If you need help with an order, or if you have any questions contact the toll-free phone at 1-(855)-790-6637, agents are available from 9a – 5p (EST) Monday – Friday. Text prices are available online.

US Interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean : A Short History
US Interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean : A Short History
by McPherson, Alan
Published by Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, John
ISBN: 9781118954003
American Foreign Relations : Volume 2: Since 1895
American Foreign Relations : Volume 2: Since 1895
by Paterson
Published by Cengage
ISBN: 9781285433332
The Afghanistan Papers : A Secret History of the War
The Afghanistan Papers : A Secret History of the War
by Whitlock, Craig, The Washington Post, The Washington
Published by Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781982159009

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, participants should be able to:

  • Discuss key trends in the history of U.S. diplomacy.
  • Describe the roles of various U.S. government agencies in the development and execution of foreign policy.
  • Discuss the evolution of the U.S. role in multilateral diplomacy.
  • Identify specific events and eras that produced shifts in American diplomacy.
  • Identify the roles, responsibilities, and impact of U.S. Government officials and agencies throughout U.S. history in the formation of diplomatic practices and policies.
  • Identify lessons learned from U.S. diplomatic history that can inform current U.S. foreign policy formulation.

Course Outline

Monday, 25 July:

6:00-7:30pm:             Introductions and Relations with Europe, 1776-1815

8:00-9:30pm:             Manifest Destiny, the Monroe Doctrine, and Isolation


Tuesday, 26 July:

6:00-7:30pm:             The War of 1898: Defending a Hemisphere or Creating an Empire

8:00-9:30pm:             World War I: Idealism v. Realism


Paterson, Chapters 1-3


Wednesday, 27 July:

6:00-7:30pm:             FDR and the Coming of WWII: Internationalism v. Isolationism

8:00-9:30pm:             How the Big Three Won the War but Started the Cold War


Paterson, Chapters 4-6


Thursday, 28 July:

6:00-7:30pm:             Cold War in Europe, 1945-1949: Dividing the World, Committing to Allies

8:00-9:30pm:             Cold War in Asia, 1950-1953: Containment v. Rollback


Paterson, Chapters 7-8


Friday, 29 July

6:00-8:00pm:             Cold War, 1960s-1970s: Détente, the New Realism?

8:00-9:30pm:             Cold War, 1980s: Reagan’s Diplomacy: Dangerous Gamble or Wise Strategy?


Saturday, 30 July

8:00-9:30am:             Growing Tensions in the Middle East to 1979: Cold War, Petroleum, and Arab Nationalism

10:00-12:00pm:         The Cuban Missile Crisis: Diplomacy on the Nuclear Brink

1:00-2:30pm:             Vietnam, Decolonization, and Low-Intensity Warfare in the Cold War

3:00-4:30pm:             A Diplomatic Bind:  The Israeli – Palestinian Question


Paterson, Chapter 9-10


Sunday, 31 July

8:00-9:30am:             Interventions and Non-interventions: Bosnia to Rwanda

10:00-12:00pm:         Whither U.S. Policy in the Middle East?  Neoconservatives, Terrorism and Iraq


Paterson, Chapter 11-12

Assignments, Grading and Due Dates


You will be graded on attendance and contributions to class discussions. You should be an enthusiastic and collegial presence in the classroom at all times. This is an opportunity to perfect your public speaking. To help you in these discussions, you should read the chapters in Paterson when indicated in boldface.


Reading responses:

There are two reading responses, on the McPherson and the Whitlock books, worth 20% each, for a total of 40%. Each reading response will be no less than 2 pages long and no more than 3 pages, typed, and double-spaced (not space and a half). You will lose points for anything outside that range. You will be evaluated on 1) your ability to answer the question and only the question; 2) your historical analysis, that is, your ability to both think abstractly and use concrete evidence from the book; and 3) your mastery of written English. Use only the assigned reading. You can quote it, but do so sparingly and put the page number in parentheses. Footnotes are not necessary. Your task is to answer the following questions and email your papers to by the due date:


Reading response #1, due 11 July, on McPherson:

Rank and explain the importance of causes, consequences, and context in US military interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean. In other words, were causes, consequences, or context as a whole most important?


Reading response #2, due 18 July, on Whitlock:

Describe three of the biggest problems in the US war in Afghanistan.



There will be one final exam for 40% of your grade, based on the textbook, American Foreign Relations: A History, and on lectures. I will provide you with a list of identifications and questions to choose from, as well as with instructions, at the end of class, and you will have until Sunday, 8 August to email answers to Do not copy sentences from the textbook in your exam. That is plagiarism and will result in a grade of 0. 


This is a letter-graded course: A, B, C, D, or F.



Due Date

Percent of Grade

Attendance & Participation

During Class Sessions


Reading Response #1

July 11, 2022


Reading Response #2

July 18, 2022


Take-Home Final Exam

August 8, 2022





Incomplete Grade Policy

Notice: Failure to meet assignment due dates could result in a grade of I (Incomplete) and may adversely impact Tuition Assistance and/or Financial Aid.


Attendance/Grade Policy

Attendance and participation in interaction, individual assignments, group exercises, simulations, role playing, etc. are valuable aspects of any course because much of the learning comes from discussions in class with other students. It is expected that you attend all classes and be on time except for excused emergencies.

Excused absences are given for professor mandated activities or legally required activities such as emergencies or military assignments. It is the policy of the University to excuse absences of students that result from religious observances and to provide without penalty for the rescheduling of examinations and additional required class work that may fall on religious holidays. Unavoidable personal emergencies, including (but not limited to) serious illness; delays in getting to class because of accidents, etc.; deaths and funerals, and hazardous road conditions will be excused.

If you are obtaining financial assistance (TA, STAP, FA, VA, Scholarship, etc.) to pay all or part of your tuition cost, you must follow your funding agency/institution’s policy regarding “I” (Incomplete) grades unless the timeline is longer than what the University policy allows then you must adhere to the University policy. Students who receive Financial Aid must resolve/complete any “I” (Incomplete) grades by the end of the term or he/she may be placed on “financial aid probation.” If the “I” grade is not resolved/completed by the end of the following term, the student’s Financial Aid may be suspended make the student ineligible for further Financial Aid.

Students are responsible for meeting the guidelines of Tuition Assistance and Veterans Assistance. See the education counselor at your local education center for a complete description of your TA or VA requirements.

OU faculty will submit grades online through ONE not later than 30 days after the course end date. Course end dates are approximately one calendar month after the final seminar date on this syllabus and are provided on the official scheduling website for reference.

Academic Integrity and Student Conduct 

Academic integrity means honesty and responsibility in scholarship. Academic assignments exist to help students learn; grades exist to show how fully this goal is attained. Therefore all work and all grades should result from the student's own understanding and effort.

Academic misconduct is any act which improperly affects the evaluation of a student’s academic performance or achievement. Misconduct occurs when the student either knows or reasonably should know that the act constitutes misconduct. Academic misconduct includes: cheating and using unauthorized materials on examinations and other assignments; improper collaboration, submitting the same assignment for different classes (self-plagiarism); fabrication, forgery, alteration of documents, lying, etc…in order to obtain an academic advantage; assisting others in academic misconduct; attempting to commit academic misconduct; destruction of property, hacking, etc…; intimidation and interference with integrity process; and plagiarism. All students should review the Student’s Guide to Academic Integrity at 

Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. All students should review policies regarding student conduct at 

Accommodation Statement

The University of Oklahoma is committed to making its activities as accessible as possible. For accommodations on the basis of disability, please contact your local OU Site Director.

Adjustment for Pregnancy/Childbirth-Related Issues

Should you need modifications or adjustments to your course requirements because of documented pregnancy-related or childbirth-related issues, please contact the professor as soon as possible to discuss. Generally, modifications will be made where medically necessary and similar in scope to accommodations based on temporary disability. Please see

Title IX Resources

For any concerns regarding gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking, or intimate partner violence, the University offers a variety of resources, including advocates on-call 24/7, counseling services, mutual no-contact orders, scheduling adjustments, and disciplinary sanctions against the perpetrator. Please contact the Sexual Misconduct Office at or (405) 325-2215 (8-5), or the Sexual Assault Response Team at (405) 615 -0013 (24/7) to report an incident. To learn more about Title IX, please visit the Institutional Equity Office’s website at 

Course Policies

Extended Campus (also and formerly known as Advanced Programs) policy is to order books in paperback if available. Courses, dates, and professors are subject to change. Please check with your OU Site Director. Students should retain a copy of any assignments that are e/mailed to the professor for the course. Neither duplicating services nor office supplies are provided.

Any and all course materials, syllabus, lessons, lectures, etc. are the property of professor teaching the course and the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma and are protected under applicable copyright.

For more information about OU Extended Campus, visit our website at:

Statement on Respect

The classroom should provide a safe learning environment where students can express their views without fear of reprisal. That freedom of expression must be balanced by demonstrated respect for other’s viewpoints and appropriate and reasonable sensitivity, especially within the context of scholarly disagreement.  Disrespectful or uncivil dialogue (including, but not limited to, personal attacks, insults, or harassment) will not be tolerated.

Recording Devices/Phones/Computers

It is important for students to be fully present during class to fully benefit from lectures, discussions, and experiential assignments. Class sessions may not be tape-recorded. All telephones and pagers should be turned off or placed on silent mode. Computers may not be used during class. Students who require an exception to this policy should discuss exceptional circumstances with the professor.


Alan McPherson, Ph.D.


  • 2001 D., History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • 1996 A. with Distinction, History, San Francisco State University.
  • 1994 A. magna cum laude, major in History, minor in Economics, Université de Montréal. 

Current Positions

  • Thomas Freaney, Jr., Professor of History
  • Director of the Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy, Temple University.

Frequently Taught Advanced Programs Courses

IAS 5940 Topics in International Studies: U.S. Diplomatic History

Major Areas of Teaching and Research Interest

  • US Foreign Relations
  • Latin American International Relations
  • US-Latin American Relations

Representative Publications and Presentations

Representative Honors and Awards Received

  • Fulbright Fellowships, 2006 (Dominican Republic) and 2012 (Argentina).
  • Central American Visiting Scholar, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University, 2010.
  • Dissertation Fellowship, SSHRC Canada, 1999-2001.

Major Professional Affiliations

  • Council Member, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations
  • American Historical Association
  • Latin American Studies Association