Isabelle Howes, Jeffrey Lantis

College of Wooster senior Isabelle Howes (left) played an important role in the production of new textbook by Jeffrey Lantis, professor of political science and international relations at Wooster.


New Textbook Offers Innovative Approach to the Study of Foreign Policy

Professor of Political Science and International Relations Jeffrey Lantis creates active teaching/learning text

March 8, 2013 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — Jeffrey Lantis, professor of political science and international relations at The College of Wooster, is an advocate for active teaching and learning, and his new book, U.S. Foreign Policy in Action: An Innovative Teaching Text, will serve as an excellent resource for advanced undergraduate classes.

“This textbook interprets the foreign policy decision-making process through the lens of political debate and exchange,” said Lantis, who was invited by the publisher (Wiley-Blackwell) to create a book that would become part of a series of texts in different subfields. “It introduces historical developments and theories of U.S. foreign policy and engages students in the politics of the foreign policy process by proxy through innovative teaching and learning exercises.”

The book is designed to bring the politics of foreign policy to life for students, according to Lantis, while encouraging critical reflection on political debates, detailing historical foundations, and providing analytical exercises in resolving foreign policy dilemmas. “I saw this as an exciting opportunity to develop a kind of book that I would want to work with as a student — one that included contemporary debates and examples as well as interesting links between theory and the real-world policy process,” he said.

What makes the book even more appealing to undergraduates is the fact that one of their own had a significant role in its production. Lantis invited Isabelle Howes, a senior international relations major at Wooster, to become involved in the development of the manuscript. “Isabelle was an excellent assistant, and instrumental in helping to create the look of the book,” said Lantis. “I am grateful for the support and delighted by this research collaboration.”

In addition to research and editorial work, Howes created an online web component that complements the book. She also located photos, which she cited and inserted into the manuscript, and produced some of the diagrams and tables that were used in the textbook.

“It was a fascinating experience to help produce something that students like myself will be using in class,” said Howes, who plans to enter the business world after graduation and then pursue a master’s degree in international affairs and business. “It was very rewarding to see a finished copy of the book that I had a role in.”

Other noteworthy elements of the new text are a critical analysis of contemporary trends in U.S. foreign policy, including debates in the Obama administration, the 2012 presidential election, and reactions to the Arab Spring. It also offers fresh perspectives on historical developments as well as prominent foreign policy theories.

In addition, the text features new and innovative participatory learning exercises that explore a range of themes, such as executive/legislature conflict. It also contains extensive teaching and learning applications, from discussion questions and document templates to worksheets, suggested readings, and links to web resources.

The text can be purchased on campus at the Wilson Bookstore in Lowry Center (1189 Beall Ave.) or online.