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Foreign Policy Decision Making in Comparative Perspective (POLISCI 242, POLISCI 342)


This seminar will examine how countries and multilateral organizations make decisions about foreign and international policy. The hypothesis to be explored in the course is that individuals, bureaucracies, and interest groups shape foreign policy decisions. That hypothesis will be tested against other more structural explanations of how countries behave in the international system. After a brief review of the academic literature in the first part of the course, the seminar will focus on several cases studies of foreign policy decision-making by the United States, China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, as well as the United Nations and NATO. This seminar is intended for masters students and fourth-year undergraduates. NOTE: Please send a one-page document to Bronte Kass,, by March 9th with the following information: full name, class year, major, contact email, which version of the course you want to enroll in (e.g., POLISCI or INTLPOL). In the document, please also outline previous associated coursework and/or relevant experience and your interest in enrolling in the seminar. Application results will be announced on March 20th. Any questions related to this course or office hours with Professor McFaul should be directed to Mahlorei Bruce-Apalis at

Course ID: 
220 793
Letter (ABCD/NP)

Course List

For a representative, rather than comprehensive, list of courses that count towards the minor, see the Related Courses tab of the Bulletin. Other courses may also fulfill the requirements; students should consult their Iranian Studies minor adviser concerning which courses might fulfill minor requirements.