Classroom-Ready PD: US Foreign Policy, led by Robert K. Brigham, Vassar College, and Jason M. Opal, McGill University

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This module is part of our Classroom-Ready PD series, which has been designed to provide teachers with ready-made, classroom-friendly resources on topics in American history that are front-and-center in current events. This module, which is based on live sessions in our How Did We Get Here? series conducted on Zoom, features a lecture on US foreign policy from the Early Republic to World War I by Professor Jason Opal (McGill University) and a lecture on 20th- and 21st-Century Foreign Policy by Professor Robert K. Brigham (Vassar College). It also includes expert advice for teaching these topics led by Gilder Lehrman Institute Master Teacher and 2020 Texas History Teacher of the Year John P. Irish.


  • Two lectures, one each by Jason Opal and Robert K. Brigham
  • Two pedagogy sessions with Master Teacher John P. Irish
  • A certificate of completion for four hours of professional development

Visit this page to learn more about our How Did We Get Here? and Classroom-Ready PD series.

Questions? Email education@gilderlehrman.org.


Robert K. Brigham, Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations, joined the Vassar faculty in 1994. He is a specialist on the history of US foreign policy, particularly the Vietnam War and the author or co-author of nine books, including Reckless: Henry Kissinger and the Tragedy of Vietnam (2018). Brigham has earned research fellowships from the Rockefeller, Mellon, Ford, and Smith Richardson Foundations as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities. He also directs the Vassar-West Point Initiative. In 2019, the Alumnae/i Association of Vassar College presented Brigham with its Outstanding Faculty Award.

Jason M. Opal is an associate professor of history at McGill University and studies colonial North America, the American Revolution, and the early decades of the United States. His work integrates social, cultural, and intellectual history and sheds light on such broad topics as nationalism, capitalism, and democracy. His books include Beyond the Farm: National Ambitions in Rural New England (2008) and Avenging the People: Andrew Jackson, the Rule of Law, and the American Nation (2017). His writings have also appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles TimesSalonThe WalrusThe Conversation, and Jacobin.