George Washington University

Courses offered at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs

Ambassador Edward “Skip” Gnehm

The Conduct of American Foreign Policy Abroad

This course focuses on authorities of the Ambassador and the Roles and Presence of Multiple U.S. Government Agencies Abroad.

Capstone Course: The Conduct of American Foreign Policy Abroad

This Capstone course examines challenges to the conduct of U.S. foreign policy caused by the proliferation of U.S. Government agencies abroad with their new authorities. Specifically, the focus is on the interface between the Ambassador and the representatives of other (non-State) US executive branch agencies, such as the CIA, the military, law enforcement agencies, and in the economic arena: Treasury, USTR, Commerce, and USAID.

The Role of The Embassy in the Conduct of Foreign Policy

This course familiarizes students with the structure of the embassy including its representatives from other agencies (especially the Country Team), its authorities both formal and informal, and how it supports U.S. interests.  During the course, each student assumes the role of one member of the country team. The professor will act as ambassador. In this role-playing model, students will deal with hypothetical issues (based on real events), thereby developing an appreciation and understanding of how an embassy operates.


Ambassador David Shinn

China and Africa 

This undergraduate class operates as a seminar and looks at the totality of the China-Africa relationship both historically and on the basis of its current relations. It covers topical issues such as trade, aid, investment, security, political relations, and soft power. It also reviews briefly China’s relations with each of the 54 nations in North and Sub-Saharan Africa. The primary text is China and Africa: A Century of Engagement by David Shinn and Joshua Eisenman supplemented by a number of readings.

Rising China and Africa

This course looks at the totality of the China-Africa relationship historically, currently and into the future. It is based on research beginning in 2007 for a book that I co-authored with Josh Eisenman published in 2012 by the University of Pennsylvania Press and titled China and Africa: A Century of Engagement. We are currently working on another book. The course, which covers both North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, pays special attention to China’s security relationship with Africa.

US Policy in Africa

This course, using the case study approach, focuses on the decision-making process in African conflict situations in Sierra Leone, Angola, Sudan, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Somalia and Rwanda. The goal is not to gain a detailed understanding of each conflict, but rather to comprehend how the U.S. responded to them and to master the important decision-making factors in each case. The course relies on published materials as well as insights I gained as a result of my involvement in the policy process during three of the conflicts. The course requires considerable student interaction and includes time for extended class discussion, role playing several sequences of the Somalia conflict, class debate on U.S. involvement in Rwanda and a mock briefing on Sudan policy by small groups. It also includes role playing the positions of U.S. personnel at American embassies in Addis Ababa and Asmara on U.S. policy toward the conflict. The overall objective is to obtain a better understanding of the decision-making process while learning about six African conflicts.


Ambassador Ross Wilson

Writing for International Policymakers

This seminar  involves short written assignments, as well as group discussions, aimed at developing the analytical and writing skills necessary to support, inform, and influence policymakers and to implement policy. Classes will consider the crisis when North Korea invaded the South in 1950 and the collapse of the Mubarak regime in January-February 2011. Students will write US National Security Council-style briefing memoranda, press statements, demarche points, and talking points.



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