America as a Global Power: FDR to Trump

  • Summer schools
  • Department of International Relations
  • Application code SS-IR211
  • Starting 2020
  • Short course: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

UPDATE: Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic we will no longer be offering this course in summer 2020. Please check our latest news on this situation here.

This course examines the evolution of American statecraft since World War II, with special emphasis on the president’s role in defining the nation’s interests.  Drawing on historical and contemporary cases, we consider how international power and domestic politics have shaped presidents’ strategic priorities and how those priorities have changed over time.

A number of important questions will be examined and addressed including:

  • How do American leaders define the nation’s interests?
  • Why did US leaders pursue an expansive global role after World War II?
  • What strategies did America’s leaders adopt during the Cold War?
  • How has globalisation impacted America’s strategic commitments?
  • How should the US respond to China’s rise to great powerdom?
  • Is the American Century coming to an end?

Session: One
Dates: 22 June – 10 July 2020
Lecturer: Professor Peter Trubowitz


Programme details

Key facts

Level: 200 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs

Fees:  Please see Fees and payments

Lectures: 36 hours 

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment*: One written essay (50%) and one written examination (50%)

Typical credit**: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

*Assessment is optional

**You will need to check with your home institution

For more information on exams and credit, read Teaching and assessment


At least one introductory course in either social science (e.g. political science, international relations, sociology, economics), history or law.

Programme structure

I. Presidents and American statecraft

  • What is grand strategy?
  • Contending theoretical approaches
  • The American context

II. American statecraft in action

  • FDR and the origins of the liberal order
  • Truman, Soviet power, and containment
  • Nixon, Vietnam, and retrenchment
  • Reagan and the reassertion of US power
  • Clinton, unipolarity, and globalisation
  • Obama, China, and the pivot to Asia

III. End of the ‘American Century’?

  • Coping with China’s rise
  • Populism, Trump, and the West
  • Renewing American purpose

Course outcomes

The course is designed to increase students’ knowledge of why America’s leaders pursue the grand strategies they do and what the American experience can tell us more generally about the international and domestic sources of grand strategy and statecraft.


With a vibrant research culture, the LSE Department of International Relations is one of the oldest and largest in the world, and remains a leading world centre for the development of the subject. Its reputation for international excellence was recognised in the 2014 Research Assessment Exercise, the LSE Government and International Relations Departments' joint submission was ranked first in the UK for the percentage of its research graded world leading or internationally excellent (88%). LSE also came top in the Politics and International Studies REF panel in terms of the most research publications graded “world leading” (4*); the absolute number of top-rated research outputs.         

LSE’s Department of International Relations ranked 5th in the world in the 2018 QS World University ranking for Politics and International Studies.

On this three-week intensive programme, you will engage with and learn from full-time lecturers from the LSE’s international relations faculty.

Reading materials

John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment (Oxford 2005) 
Robert Kagan, The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled Word (Knopf, 2018)
Peter Trubowitz, Politics and Strategy (Princeton 2011) 

*A more detailed reading list will be supplied prior to the start of the programme

**Course content, faculty and dates may be subject to change without prior notice

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