United States

The United States field encompasses the history of the United States, its institutions, and its international relations, with a particular focus on the development of American foreign policy and diplomatic practice. The geographical context and economic basis and also cultural background as well as the political and constitutional-legal framework of the U.S. government and its foreign policy making processes are studied—as essential background for students who may one day be representing or may be dealing with the United States in diplomatic situations or in their professional work in law, business, economic development, humanitarian service, policy research, academic teaching, journalism, and in other ways. The question of the uniqueness, or “exceptionalism,” of American civilization and of the appropriateness of “lessons” of American historical experience to the situations of other societies in other parts of the world is examined. So, too, is the issue of the definition of U.S. national “interests” and democratic and other “values”—and the defense and promotion of those abroad—in a changing world environment in which coalition efforts and multilateral cooperation increasingly are necessary, and in which universal norms may or may not prevail.