Why It Matters

Summarize the major characteristics of economic, social, foreign, and environmental policy

Photo of the Occupy Wall Street protest showing a crowd of people marching on a street holding a banner that reads "OCCUPY."


In this last section, you’ll get a feel for the policy consequences of our political system. In particular, you’ll get a sense of how the government maintains and regulates our capitalist economy, how it supports various groups through social spending, and the nature and character of American foreign policy. You’ll also explore some of the serious environmental policy challenges facing the nation (and the world).

As you make your way through the range of materials in this module, consider whether what you learn conforms to your assumptions going in. For example, if you were to list the economic challenges facing the country right now, what issues would make the cut? If you were to guess which groups receive the most help through the welfare system, which ones would you list? If you were to state the goals and nature of foreign policy as you understand them right now, what would they be? And so on . . .

Then, revisit your answers when you’ve worked through the materials. Think about whether you agree with your original responses or not. In this section, perhaps more than any other, you may need to remain flexible and be willing to adjust your views. The nature, shape, and logic of policy is often not what people expect.