Global Agenda 2011

Perceptions of America Abroad

Spring 2011

Meets: Wednesday 3:35pm - 4:50pm

and other times Wednesday evenings outlined below

Class location: Gore Hall 219

Speaker location: Mitchell Hall

See detailed schedule in separate schedule document

Course Internet pages (bookmark them):



Professor Ralph J. Begleiter

Office: 201 Elliott Hall (26 E. Main St.)

Phone: (302) 831-7771

Office Hours:

Monday 1pm-3pm

Thursday 1pm-3pm

and by appointment

Assistant: Luci Coumatos

Teaching Assistant

Rebecca Riley

Course Syllabus

Updated 2-4-2011

This syllabus will change during the semester. It’s your responsibility to stay abreast of changes announced in class and on the course web site. Information in this syllabus is also on the course web site. Please use the course web site as your continuing course information resource.


This course is an international policy and media speaker series which will explore the image of the United States abroad. No nation in the world can avoid the impact of American power, projected militarily, politically, culturally and economically. Yet many Americans are unaware how U.S. power is perceived by others. A decade after the 9/11 attacks Global Agenda 2011 views the United States through a perspective from abroad. For Americans, confronting the U.S. image abroad is startling. For policy makers, students of foreign policy and journalists, it helps understand the challenges facing U.S. military and national security policy.

This semester, speakers with on-the-ground experience around the world help you understand the complicated politics and psychology of the American image abroad. We’ll tackle such questions as “Why do ‘they’ hate us?” “How do American economic and cultural images play beyond U.S. borders?” “How does the U.S. image affect American interests abroad?” “What , if anything, should the United States do about its image abroad?”

The logistics of this course are highly unusual (see below). For students in the Honors (080) section, logistics are even more complicated. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions early in the course to clarify anything that’s unclear.Approximately every other week, guest lecturers, practitioners in foreign affairs and media community, visit the UD campus to explore with students their experience with these international challenges, and to offer their suggestions for future U.S. policy. All students in this course will attend exclusive small-group talks and private dinners with visiting speakers, and will be joined by members of the university and public community who are invited to the series of Wednesday evening lectures.

On intervening weeks, the class will explore topics upcoming and just passed in the speaker series. This course is appropriate for juniors and seniors interested in geopolitics in policy and journalism who are eager for lively interaction with our visiting speakers. The key to this class is the speakers.

Unusual Mechanics of this course

This class meets just once a week, on Wednesdays in Gore Hall 219.

The Honors section has a second weekly meeting, Tuesdays from 9:00-10:15am in Pearson 304 (Studio C). There is a separate Honors section syllabus.

In weeks when there is a guest speaker, all students are required to attend all of the following events with the speaker:

  1. class session, exclusive to students in this class, to allow lots of interaction with the guest (begins at 3:35pm) - 219 Gore Hall

  2. informal reception, to allow off-topic discussions (5:00-5:45pm) - Caffé Gelato, 91 East Main Street, Newark

  3. dinner with the guest speaker, exclusive to students in this class, to allow informal continuing discussion (begins at 6:00pm) - Caffé Gelato

  4. formal evening talk, open to students outside the class and to the general public (begins at 7:30pm) - Mitchell Hall. You are enthusiastically encouraged to introduce a friend to these important campus opportunities.

In weeks when there is no guest speaker, the class will meet in Gore Hall 219 on Wednesday at 3:35pm for discussion of the upcoming guest’s topic and review of the previous week’s speaker. This will be a standard-length class. (3:35-4:50pm) Note: There may be some sessions of our “regular” class which may also feature a guest speaker. On these occasions, there are no evening obligations, but you’ll want to be prepared for topical discussion in class with our speakers. Stay abreast of our schedule to determine these special events.

As you can see, the schedule of this course is unusual (some might say crazy), so you'll have to stay on your toes, watch the web site and listen for changes announced in class and watch your email.


The primary focus of this course is the experiences students have with our series of guest speakers. The speakers have been chosen for the diversity of their foreign policy expertise - in government (both U.S. and foreign) and media. Classes with the guest speakers, and their public lectures, form the backbone of this course. Attendance at these events is mandatory. You should take these as opportunities to ask questions and engage in lively dialog. Please do not take a seat in this course if this requirement is a problem for you. The course calendar is also available on the course web site.

Your interaction with guest speakers in this course should be smart, professional and enthusiastic. Putting it bluntly: guests such as the ones we will meet have many opportunities to visit many other universities. To encourage them to offer their expertise to students like you here at UD, they should have a lively, intelligent and - yes - fun experience at Delaware. That is largely up to you. Don’t “hang back.” Be prepared with questions that interest you and your peers. It’s perfectly OK to ask “elementary” questions and to challenge a speaker’s views; it’s not OK to ask no questions or engage in no discussion. Take advantage of these opportunities. Think of things to talk about. Milk our guest speakers for all they’re worth.

In weeks when there is no guest speaker, classes will consist primarily of lectures, discussion and multimedia presentations. At these classes, as well as at the guest speaker classes and lectures, questions and discussion from students are very much encouraged. Writing assignments or exams will draw from class presentations, reading assignments, videos, and class assignments.

There will be several writing assignments in this class. (More on this in a moment.)

Just as in the foreign policy and communication field, independent, analytical and critical thinking is highly valued. So your contribution to class discussion will be reflected in your final grade.

You’ll be expected to attend class; it’s hard to imagine how learning can take place without your attendance and active participation. If this prospect does not appeal to you, please free your seat for another student. Unexcused absences will result in the automatic lowering of your grade.

Guest speaker dinner arrangements

To make the class dinners with guest speakers more interesting, informal and to encourage maximum student-speaker conversation, we limit the number of people at each dinner to about 20. Approximately 15 students will be able to attend each dinner; a rotation system will be established early in the semester to assure all students have ample opportunity to converse with our guests. Regrettably, not every student will be able to attend every dinner.

Regardless of whether you participate in any given dinner, all students are required to participate in the reception following the class meeting, and all students are required to participate in the evening speaker events. These receptions and dinners take place at Caffé Gelato on Main Street.

Dinner assignments will be posted on the course web site once they are made.

Share the wealth - spread the word

You are encouraged to bring a friend to the evening speaker events. Only students enrolled in the class may join the class, reception and dinner opportunities. But the evening events are designed to share your experience with other students. Introduce a friend to this complex topic they see in the news all the time. I will ask each of you to use your “F” power (that’s “Facebook”) to reach out to your friends about Global Agenda.


How much you gain from this class will depend in large measure on how well you prime yourself for the foreign policy topics we will discuss with our speakers. Readings are chosen not only to impart information, but also to help you broaden and deepen your understanding of our class discussions, and to help you develop insight into the issues we cover in this course. Specific readings may not be discussed explicitly in class, but to participate effectively in class, with our speakers, and to write the best papers, you will find it critical to complete the readings. You will be pleasantly surprised at the end of the semester at how fluent you become in these topics. Your final paper in this class will call for specific references to your readings and our speakers.

Some readings will be available electronically from the “Readings” page of the Sakai web site.

There is no required text for this class.

Current Events

This course draws heavily on current issues in the news media. You are required to keep up with contemporary news by reading The New York Times, or other reputable current affairs publications, and by watching television news broadcasts. Students may subscribe to the Times at discount rates, and, of course, you may read it on the Internet. Students will also want to remain familiar with international news coverage from National Public Radio, PBS (WHYY-TV-12) or one of the domestic networks (ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, NBC). Don’t rely on essentially local news media such as the News Journal or local TV newscasts for international affairs news. You will find links to a wide variety of international affairs publications and resources, including many published abroad, on the course web site.


Perhaps the single most important skill in international affairs is thoughtful, insightful, analytical, concise, quality writing. Therefore, such writing is highly valued in this course. Your grade will be very heavily influenced by the quality and the content of your writing.

Avoid unnecessary verbiage, rhetoric or embellishment. To encourage you to keep your writing to-the-point, I may choose not to read beyond the page limit.

A number of writing assignments, and perhaps a group presentation project will be required during the semester, based on guest speaker topics, class discussion and readings. Due dates will be announced in class and are included in the syllabus, which may be periodically updated on the class web site. The schedule of events and assignments in this class is highly likely to change during the semester. It is your responsibility to remain up to date with the syllabus on the web. Use the web-based syllabus as your primary course information resource.

There will be no final exam. But there is a final paper, due on Friday, May 13, 2010.

All writing assignments in this class will be submitted, graded and returned electronically. No paper, no printing.

What’s valued in your papers is your ability to synthesize what you’re reading and hearing from our speakers into thoughtful analysis.


Writing, thinking and class participation (beyond mere attendance) are critical elements of this class. Please remember that (just as in the real world) timeliness counts; late assignments will automatically lose credit. Your grades will be based on these elements:

  1. Papers & group projects - all together 70% of grade

  2. Attendance & participation - 30% of grade

Note: Students missing more than two classes or more than one guest speaker event will automatically experience a grade reduction.

Grades will be posted periodically on the course Sakai web site. Papers submitted electronically will be returned electronically, with grades and professor comments embedded.

Assignments submitted after their due date will receive automatically-reduced grades.

Professionalism and Integrity

You should be smart, professional and enthusiastic in your interaction with guest speakers in this course. I get questions every year from students about appropriate dress, so here’s some guidance: At guest speaker classes, receptions, dinners and public talks, please dress appropriately (no need to overdo it, but please don’t come looking like you just rolled out of bed). Guideline for men: neckties are OK but not required. Collared shirts are good; T-shirts and pajamas are inappropriate. Guideline for women: T-shirts, pajamas and flip-flops are inappropriate.

The key word is “professional.”

  1. Honors students: Your weekly videoconferences with students in Dubai will, of course, mean that you’ll be “on TV.” These sessions are recorded.

  2. You are expected to observe and uphold the University’s code of academic integrity and the rules against plagiarism. Plagiarism is a major, career-killing offense in the communication industry. Violations in this course will not be treated lightly and will be referred to University authorities in accordance with established university regulations. Warning: I have a reputation for prosecuting plagiarism cases.

  3. Your written work should have a professional appearance. Even your most creative work will suffer from poor writing, spelling and formatting.

Guidelines for your papers:

  1. Handwritten documents will not be accepted in this class. All assignments will be submitted electronically, on the course Sakai web site. Txt slng ng in prof wk.

  2. On the first page, include your name, the course name and number, the date, the assignment title and any title you choose for your work.

  3. On all subsequent pages, include your name and page number.

  4. Use your spell-checker, but don’t expect it to flag correctly-spelled words which are used incorrectly. For that, you must... Proofread your own work! Don’t skip this step; proofread your work!