Lesson Plan: Goals of U.S. Foreign Policy

Secretary of State Blinken on Promoting Democracy around the World

Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed U.S. foreign policy goal of strengthening and promoting democracy around the world and at home.


This lesson has students explore the goals of U.S foreign policy by examining how the U.S. provides national security, encourages international trade, fosters world peace, and promotes democracy and human rights. Students will define these goals, identify challenges and tools to achieve them, and apply what they learned to current foreign policy issues. Students will use this knowledge to determine which foreign policy goals the United States should prioritize and how those goals should be achieved.


  • SET-UP:

    This lesson offers several options for you to use with your students whether you are teaching in class, using a hybrid model, or engaging through distance learning. It can be completed in steps as a class or independently by students.

    Each activity, video and handout included in the lesson can be linked to an online discussion board or learning management system. You can also save and share the following Google handout for students to use with this lesson.

    Handout: U.S. Foreign Policy Goals (Google Doc)

    By making a copy of this Google Doc, you can adjust the instructions to meet the needs of your class and provide that copy to your students. Your students can also make a copy and complete the assignments digitally in the space provided.


    To introduce the topic of foreign policy, have the students brainstorm answers to the following questions. Engage the students in a discussion about foreign policy and address any misconceptions that students might have. Have students keep a running list of questions that they have about the goals of foreign policy.

    • What is meant by foreign policy?

    • What are examples of foreign policy?

    • Why does the United States engage with other countries?

    • What questions do you have about foreign policy?

    After reviewing the warm-up activity, share the handout with the students and have them view each of the video clips highlighting a foreign policy goal.

    Handout: U.S. Foreign Policy Goals (Google Doc)

    For each foreign policy goal students will use the note-taking chart to provide the following information:

    • Summary of this Foreign Policy Goal

    • Challenges and Obstacles to Achieving this Goal

    • Ways to Accomplish this Foreign Policy Goal

    • Keywords Associated with this Goal


    Have students share their responses from the introduction activity. Address any misconceptions that students might have about the goals for U.S. foreign policy.

    Students will practice what they learned about the U.S. foreign policy goals by viewing examples of current international issues impacting the United States. Depending on the set-up of the classroom, these videos can be show to the entire class or accessed by individual students using the links below.

    For each example, students will answer the following questions:

    • Which goal (or goals) is addressed in the clip? What evidence supports this?

    • What actions are being discussed to achieve this goal?

    Review the answers with the students and discuss their interpretations of these examples.

    Based of the information from the video clips, have them respond to the prompt below. This can be done as a written assignment, think-pair-share activity, debate, or class discussion. Activities from the C-SPAN Classroom Deliberation site can also be used to engage students.

    • What is the most important foreign policy goal for the United States? What actions can the United States take to achieve this goal?
  • WRAP-UP:

    To review the concepts in the lesson, have the students revisit two of the questions from the warm-up activity. Students can answer these questions as an exit slip or other formative assessment.

    • Why does the United States engage with other countries?

    • What questions do you still have about foreign policy?

    Ranking America’s Foreign Policy Goals- Rank the goals of foreign policy from most important to least important. For each goal, use examples to explain why that goal is ranked in that position.

    C-SPAN Video Library Search- Using the C-SPAN Video Library, search for a video of a recent example of the president or Congress speaking about foreign policy. After viewing the video, summarize what is being discussed, identify the foreign policy goal (goals) and explain what actions can be taken to achieve this goal (goals).


    • How are these foreign policy goals interrelated?

    • Besides the goals discussed in this lesson, what other foreign policy goals should be prioritized?

    • What is the most important foreign policy challenge facing the United States?

    • How do you think the COVID-19 pandemic changed American foreign policy?

Additional Resources


  • Alliance
  • Authoritarian
  • Autocracy
  • Coercion
  • Commerce
  • Cybersecurity
  • Department Of Defense
  • Development Assistance
  • Diplomacy
  • Economic Growth
  • Foreign Aid
  • Free Trade
  • Intelligence Community
  • International Institutions
  • Nation-state Actors
  • National Security
  • Nuclear Weapons
  • Sanction
  • Secretary Of State
  • Sovereignty
  • Tariff
  • United States Agency For International Development


Foreign Policy


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