In the last four years under the administration of Donald Trump, the United States saw a distinct shift in its foreign policy priorities and engagement with the world. Under the former president, Washington D.C. sought a foreign policy of strategic engagement and strategic isolation, withdrawing from multilateral organizations and agreements like the World Health Organization, the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Paris Climate Accords. Amid a global pandemic and collective global concerns like climate change, conflict and democratic backsliding, the United States turned inward, focusing on domestic policy and shrinking away from the international arena.

However, the United States is currently undergoing a period of shock and change with a new administration and cabinet in the White House. The election and subsequent inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden marks a near 180 degree turn in the American approach to international relations. For Biden and his circle of national security and foreign policy experts, reengaging and mending relationships with allies, reevaluation the American approach to strategic adversaries like Iran, Russia and China and taking back leadership on the international stage is of paramount priority.

But 2020 and 2021 has brought about new and unprecedented challenges for foreign policy decision makers. Ongoing conflicts, economic turmoil, public health debates and a growing need for leadership will certainly present obstacles for Washington D.C. as it looks to reengage the world.

This semester, the USC Global Policy Institute is dedicated to identifying key regions, countries and issues around the world that will shape U.S. foreign policy and the Biden Doctrine for the next four years. This dynamic and ever-changing regional breakdown of developments across the world will seek to outline the current state of U.S. relations in the region and what future engagement could look like.

North America

Ben Blum analyzes U.S. relations with its neighbors to the north and south — Canada and Mexico — and the future of North American political and economic cooperation.

Middle East & North Africa

Ryan Witter outlines U.S. foreign policy differences toward the MENA region under Trump and what U.S. engagement in the region — comprised of adversaries, allies, resources and geopolitical interests — could look like under Biden.

Central America

Immigration, climate change and geopolitical security. Amanda Wilson provides an overview of U.S. policy toward Central America, with a specific focus on the Triangle Countries. The Biden administration announced that tackling corruption would drive U.S. policy in the region.

South America

While immigration dominates conversations about U.S. foreign policy in South America, climate change, rule of law, human rights, populism, COVID-19 and economic ties are also on the agenda. Matt Slade reviews the U.S.’ shift in engagement toward its southern neighbors.

East Asia

Matt Slade covers American engagement with East Asia, home to some of the world’s preeminent economies, a handful of valuable U.S. allies, and rising challenges to the international system.

South Asia

Emerging economies, climate change, ongoing social movements, human rights and more may propel South Asia to an increased level of importance under a Biden foreign policy doctrine.

Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Amanda Wilson reviews the state of U.S.-Russia relations the neighboring countries within Eastern Europe and Central Asia — key geopolitical arenas of importance that are experiencing waves of democratic backsliding.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ben Blum provides a general overview of the U.S.’ approach to sub-saharan Africa and how a foreign policy focused on development, governance, climate change and more can balance out Chinese interests on the continent.


The tie between the U.S. and Europe is unique, marked by shared value and special relationships. Mia Speier provides an overview of transatlantic relations and the role of the Biden administration.