Unit 2: Iran-US Relations

Overview: The purpose of this unit is to focus on the concept of power in interstate relations. The main case study is centered on US-Iran relations along with developing a deeper understanding of the concept of power.

Notes: The work listed below was created during remote instruction so all the work was on Google Docs. There are also videos I made to help students work asynchronously. Listed out in terms of “days” but many can be consolidated depending on the class format. The boxes/fields in the docs are meant for students to fill in their own responses. Some may already have text in them from working through the questions with my students after the fact.

Download the files linked here from my OneDrive unit folder

Key concepts focused on in this unit: Power, Sovereignty

Global Political Challenges: Security

Other global politics terms: Multilateralism, unilateralism

Unit Question:

Final Assessment: Paper 2 essay

Daily Work

Day 1: Current Events: Ethiopia dams the Blue Nile

Ethiopia dams the Blue Nile

The above reading was a homework assignment based on a topic that was in the news at the time. It gave us quick access and discussion points to develop the work we did in the first unit and an introduction to what this unit would be about. The following is the classwork we did discussing the reading above and starting our discussion on power.

Classwork on Ethiopia Dam


Day 2: Intro to Power

What is power reading?

This is a lengthy reading adapted from a textbook.

Day 3: Classwork on Power

Classwork on Power in Global Politics

Hadn’t done this before but it worked out well, even while teaching remotely.

Day 4: Further Discussions on Power

Classwork on Power in Global Politics

Further Discussions on Power

Day 5: Overview of Iran-US Relations

Overview of Iran-US Relations

Day 6: Topic 1 Nuclear Proliferation

Independent work on the background and history of nuclear weapons

We identified four main topics to explore in this unit. Because of the nature of remote instruction, there is a good amount of independent work here for students to do asynchronously. I would format this all differently in person.

Day 7: The Next President’s Foreign Policy

Next Presidents Foreign Policy Approach

We worked through this unit during the 2020 US Presidential election. This provided an opportunity to explore concepts and approaches like multilateralism and unilateralism. The following doc is the wrap up and discussion work we did when the previous assignment was due.

9_ Wrap Up on Foreign Policy Approaches

Day 8: The United Nations, Economic Sanctions

Wrap up on nuclear power, intro to the UN, in depth work on economic sanctions

Day 9: Topic 2: Economic Sanctions on Iran

Classwork and readings on economic power, role of the US dollar, and economic sanctions on Iran 

Days 10 and 11: Topics 3 and 4: Cyber Power and Proxies

Role of cyber power in the conflict, use of proxies in the Middle East

Day 12: Recent interactions between US and Iran and Intro to Security

Iran-US Current Events, Security

Day 13: Wrap up on security and intro to Paper 2

Wrap up on security, intro to Paper 2

Global Politics Quiz

Test Review Sheet

 Glo Po Unit Test (2 different versions answers below)

Glo Po Test Answers v1

Glo Po Test Answers v2

Final Task: Paper 2

Iran Paper 2 Assignment

Samples Paper 2

Student Sample 1

Student Sample 2

Paper 2 Feedback After Work was Completed

Other Resources:

Can’t find the Middle East on a map? Here’s why.

Mapping the Middle East from Within: (Counter-)Cartographies of an Imperialist Construction

Longer read but explores the concept and construction of the “Middle East”

Culcasi-Mapping the Middle East from Within

Map Work

For each case study, I try to have students learn the relevant regional map (countries, capitols, important bodies of water).

Blank Middle East Map

Middle East Map Work

Middle East Map Quiz

Download the files linked here from my OneDrive unit folder

The Choices Program from Brown University

Provides some good background readings and video to help from the context of the relationship between the US and Iran.

PBS Frontline Documentary Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia

The two parts are almost three hours long. I have asked students to watch sections of this in the past.

Here is a worksheet I gave students to help them with relevant vocabulary that comes up.

The New Middle East: What Everyone Needs to Know by James L. Gelvin

Formatted as a series of questions and answers, this book provides great background and insight into what is a complicated region. Short enough that a student could reasonably read this on their own or have sections assigned along with a unit on the region.

From the publisher: “In The New Middle East: What Everyone Needs to Know®, renowned Middle East scholar James L. Gelvin explains all these developments and more in a concise question-and-answer format. Outlining the social, political, and economic contours of the New Middle East, he illuminates the current crisis in the region and explores how the region will continue to change in the decades to come.”


Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Not a neutral source but always entertaining.