Debating Political Economy: An Approach to Teaching the U.S. and the World

In the Journal of American History vol. 103, no. 4 (March 2017), I have an essay in the textbooks and teaching section about using weekly debates, and a political economy frame, to teach either a U.S. and the World survey or U.S.-Latin American relations. The whole section, which features other essays on teaching the global U.S., is now ungated, so you can get the whole essay free:

Traditionally, the modern United States and the world survey has been the province of military and diplomatic history. But from the point of view of the present, it is not clear that such an approach places the right emphasis on the distribution of U.S. power and its effects on the world—either during the twentieth century or present. As a starting point for analysis, you do not get far by noting that the United States has been the world’s preeminent military power (though that too is important). It is far more useful to observe that the United States is and has been the world’s preeminent capitalist power and to use that premise as the foundation for building a complex understanding of U.S. financial, cultural, political, and military interventions. For that reason, I have designed my survey course in U.S. foreign relations to emphasize issues of political economy.

I’ve heard from several people that it has sparked debates among graduate students and faculty.

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