Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

America's Role In The World...Truman Leads The Way To The Present AND Future.
Tim Gallagher
US History
Time Frame:
2-3 days
US History Since 1945

Grade Levels:
10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

This lesson will engage students in lots of speculation.  Students will be involved in drawing evaluative conclusions about our U.S. role in the world today and into the future based upon the direction provide by President Harry S. Truman beginning in 1945.  Students will be involved in completing an individual analysis and evaluation of multiple resources so that they can draw some conclusions in relation to today.  Students will also be involved in cooperative-group learning.  In this lesson, students will have the opportunity to utilize their fellow students as sounding boards with relation to their thoughts and perspectives.  Technology will be utilized (our school has a 1 to 1 computer program).  And, a variety of documents generated or initiated by the Truman administration will be evaluated.  We will utilize our investigations, as a class, to explore how past policy decisions continue to serve as a foundation for current U.S. International policy decisions.


We will be doing this activity to assist students in better understanding how our foreign policy is made and carried out.  We will also examine the impact of policy decisions.  When investigating foreign policy and international relations, students frequently ask questions like...Why don't we just bomb them?...We have problems here...why are we spending money to assist other nations?...Why are we over there...what have they ever done for us or how will they ever be able to help us?...and the list of these types of questions continues on and on.  So, I am initiating this lesson to engage students in learning about why we act in the world as we do.  Additionally, I would like to see students gain an understanding of how our policy decisions are formed.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

-Iowa Common Core: SS.09-12.H.08 and MISIC Code: SS.09-12.02.04

                        -Systematically employ critical inquiry to analyze and interpret the past.

            -Iowa Common Core: SS.09-12.PS.03 and MISIC Code: SS.09-12.06.01

                        -Explain the purpose of government and analyze how its powers are

                        acquired, used and justified.  Identify basic principles and responsibilities

                        associated with each branch of government.

            -Iowa Common Core: SS.09-12.PS.04 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.06.01

                        -Explain the purpose of government and analyze how its powers are

                        acquired, used and justified.  Distinguish between implied and expressed

                        powers and analyze impact on citizens.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.PS.08 and MISIC Code: SS.09-12.06.02

                        -Compare and contrast political systems throughout the world with that of

                        the United States.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.PS.08 and MISIC Code: SS.09-12.06.03

                        -Evaluate the role of technology in communication, transportation,

                        information processing, weapons development or other areas as it contributes to

                        or helps resolve conflict.

            *MISIC= Mid Iowa School Improvement Consortium

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

-Notes from Truman Institute presenter...Jon Taylor from the University of Central

                        Missouri (Transitioning From the Second World War to the Cold War:  Charting

                        a New Course For U.S. Involvement in the World. 7-14-2015)

                        -USA Today article from 7-15-2015 (Nuke Deal Paves Way For New Era...Oren


                        -USA Today article from 7-16-2015 (Obama Frames Choice As Iran Deal Or War

                        ...David Jackson)

                        -Student found articles and videos...from NET searches.

                        -Articles from time period about the UN Charter

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

-Quotes and pictures from the Truman Library and Museum (See lesson details)

                        -Charter of the United Nations

                        -The Charter of the United Nations, Address of the President of the United

                        States, July 2, 1945 (Truman Library Museum...12th Annual Teacher's

                        Conference...1945: V.P. and President. War End...Teacher Resource Links...

                        United Nations

                        -Truman Doctrine

                        -UN Declaration of Human Rights

                        -Documents involving policy decisions of Bush and Obama regarding                                            involvement in the world (Bush...post 9-11....Obama...Dealing with Iran                                          Nuclear concerns 7-14-2015)

Full description of activity or assignment.

Day one...


-Discuss what foreign policy is...based on previous learning from the current unit we are involved in.  Challenge students with a "relationship" issue for which they can personally relate.

-Discuss how students believe this issue should be resolved...and...examine how any policy we would create for this "relationship" issue would set a precedent for future "issues" that might arise.  The "issue" will be based on what is going on in relation to student personal lives at the time.

-Discuss quotes...What direction might these quotes lead our nation?  See quotes mentioned above in the lesson objective.

-Read timely newspaper articles involving President Truman supporting the UN Charter.  New York Herald Tribune, June 27, 1945.

-Read parts of the Charter of the United States

-Read the UN Declaration of Human Rights

*Process all of the above readings together...if needed...work through these documents one paragraph at a time.

-Complete a review/analysis/evaluation of these documents.  (See guide below)

-Discuss the direction these documents would lead the U.S. in relation to world nations.  Discuss these documents in relation to the quotes previously examined.


Day 2:


-Read the Truman Doctrine.

*Process this document as a class...if needed...work through this document one paragraph at

a time.

-Complete a review/analysis/evaluation of this document.  (See guide below)

-Examine the focus of this doctrine.

-Evaluate the impact that this document might have on our interactions in the world today.

For students wishing to go into greater depth with regard to the foreign policy programs initiated or promoted during the Truman Administration...have them explore the list below to determine how they may have set policy trends.

-The Potsdam Conference

-The Marshall Plan

-The support for a nation of Israel

-the Korean War

*If a student chooses to extend beyond the actual assignment...have them consider the following questions:

What was the purpose of this plan, conference, conflict, etc?....What was achieved?  What lasting impact did this event have on our current foreign and international policies?


Day 3...

-Examine speech of President George W. Bush after 9-11 at ground zero...Where did the bones of this message perhaps come from? (Watch student found video and review student found text)

-Examine President Obama's promotion of the Iran Nuke Treaty. (Watch student found video and review student found text...in addition to USA TODAY accounts from 7-15 and 16-2015)...Where did the bones of this message perhaps come from?

-Examine one more current topic relating to Foreign policy...Student choice...from NET.

-Complete a review/analysis/evaluation of these documents/ videos. (See guide below).

*For those wishing to explore further...consider

            Kennedy and the Cold War

            The Vietnam War policy

            The 1980 Summer Olympics Boycott

            The END of the Cold War

            The initial Gulf War

            The most recent Gulf War

            The war on terrorism

            Anything else that might pop up currently

-I will wrap things up with a discuss about the significance of President Truman in setting Foreign Policy/ International Relations policy.

-Finally...we will re-visit the "relationship" issue from day one...So...Where do we go from here?


The format for the review/analysis/evaluation of documents will be:



Document or Article Examined:

Sum up what you have read:

What are your views of what you have read?:

How does what you have read relate to the topic we are exploring?:

After reading this document or article...identify two additional questions that come to mind that you are curious about.

What role do you believe President Truman and his Administration had in relation to stimulating

a foreign policy plan that created or promoted a blueprint for the future?

How does our current foreign policy/ international relations tie in to the activities initiated during the Truman Administration?


Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

            -This lesson is part of a larger unit relating to Foreign Policy/ International Relations.

            -I will incorporate elements of this lesson into a future test.  Essay questions will be used

            to allow students to share with me what they have learned in relation to "current" foreign

            policy...influenced by the Truman Presidency.

            -I will utilize objective evaluation...I will observe students as they grasp the focus of this

            lesson during discussions and investigation sessions...are they getting it?  Based on                       listening to and watching students, I will be able to evaluate the learning taking place.

            -I will utilize the above evaluation essays (see guidelines previously outlined) to assess

            how well students understand the impact and legacy of the Foreign Policy initiatives                      promoted, created or supported by President Truman and his administration.