Students Offer Advice to Next Presidential Administration
Disappointed with the status of the U.S. government in the eyes of the world, a group of determined Occidental College students was driven to promote change to the next occupant of the White House.
Rebranding America, a nearly 50-page, student-written strategic guide, highlights a top ten list of foreign policy priorities and how to implement them for the next administration.
At the urging of his students, Stuart Chevalier Professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs Derek Shearer offered a class called “American Grand Strategy” this spring. The course’s scope was the future – what ought to be U.S. foreign policy for the new administration that will come to power next January.
“The students decided that it is vital for the next administration—whether headed by a Democrat or Republican—to regain the moral high ground and take strategic initiative: to lead rather than to dominate, to be a beacon more than a bull horn,” said Shearer, who served as Ambassador to Finland from 1994 to 1997. “In essence, the students want the U.S. to be the good guys and to be smart about how we make this transition.”
Led by rising seniors Kera Bartlett and Ian Henry, students agreed on the top ten key challenges that the next president will face, including: Iraq, Oil and Energy Issues and Transnational Terrorism. Breaking into teams, the students produced an analysis of the key issues in each category, defined America’s strategic interest and then proposed actions that the next president might take in his or her first month in office, first six months and first year and beyond.
"As Diplomacy and World Affairs majors, my fellow students and I have intensely studied American foreign policy and how the world views us for three years,” said Ian Henry. “Our class was diverse with viewpoints spanning the entire political spectrum from liberal to conservative as well as the global perspective from international students. We the found the current state of American foreign policy to be lacking, and we were tired of simply complaining about it. The result is Rebranding America, in which we present an even approach to foreign policy and several pragmatic steps that the next president could take.”
Students have already distributed Rebranding America to foreign policy advisors for Clinton, McCain, Obama and to the chiefs of staff of the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees. In June, Henry and Bartlett will both attend the Democratic National Convention where they hope to distribute the work to other influential politicians. It is also available online at: OxyWorldwide.com, the College’s student-run foreign policy website.