As unpredictable events and international crises occur around the world, such as the turmoil in the Middle East and the conflicts over disputed ownership of islands in Asia, it is essential for a country, especially one as wide-reaching in influence as the United States, to have an established set of foreign policies. This allows a nation to confront and solve problems in the global community.

On Tuesday night, Dr. Brandon Prins hosted a presentation in the Toyota Auditorium about U.S. foreign policy and how it has changed since the events of 9/11, as well as the policies of President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. His presentation was one of several lectures that are a part of foreign policy week at UT.

An Associate Professor for five years in the Department of Political Science at UT, Dr. Prins' areas of expertise include International Relations, Foreign Policy, Military Conflict and Global Security. Dr. Prins held the lecture, not just as part of UT's Foreign Policy Week, but also to help educate students for the upcoming election.

"With this lecture, I hope that students become more aware of the driving forces on foreign policy, and make intelligent, independent and rational decisions about who should and should not be president, based on their own preferences," Prins said.

In his presentation, he first introduced several factors that have influenced U.S. foreign policies in the past, and which still affect policies today. One factor was partisan polarization — the degree of difference in voting between a member of one party and a member of another.

"The trend is that partisan polarization has led almost all Republicans to become more conservative, and more Democrats to become more liberal," Dr. Prins said. "The degree to which their ideologies differ has increased. The result is that it makes it harder for the president to pass legislation that agrees with his party's policies and his own."

Dr. Prins also outlined several foreign policies of President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

"President Obama follows 'Liberal Internationalism', which means he is more likely to intervene in other countries in order to pursue liberal topics, such as human rights and the promotion of democracy, and utilize intergovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations, in order to prevent power struggles between nations," Prins said. "Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is a 'realist', and is much more willing to use military force to defend the U.S., as well as actively seek to stop organizations that could threaten or endanger the United States."  

As Dr. Prins explained the inner workings of U.S. foreign policies, graduate student Norris Feeney, also in the Department of Political Science, stood beside him to answer additional questions, and affirmed Dr. Prins’ work in political science.

“He is one of the sharpest people in our department, and one of the youngest as well,” Feeney said. “He is an excellent guide as my dissertation professor. He has worked very hard to create a successful relationship between the Baker Center and the Global Security Program, which examines how the political and cultural landscape changes in the U.S. and abroad due to science, technology, and policy.”

A student debate about policies between the Obama and Romney Administrations will be held in the UC Shiloh room tonight at 6:30 p.m.