The Rise and Fall of the American Empire

Ref: C3741256

America's history has been one of paradoxical actions, especially when damming Imperial European 19th and 20th century global expansion then itself building one of the greatest empires the world has even known. Populated in1492 by less than half a million indigenous people, and all without the horse, by 1945 America had become the unchallenged master of the world, admired as Winthrop's famous Shining City on a Hill, achieved through the unsurpassed ambitions, beliefs, capabilities and achievements of an immigrant population of hundreds of millions from dozens of countries, but is the nation now in decline?

Course aim

A narrative history of the United States concentrating upon America's ability to re-invent itself, emerging ever stronger, as it strove with increasing confidence towards world hegemony; but can the nation re-invent itself again in the 21st century?

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Students need a level 2 qualification in English to join this course
  • Essentially, an enquiring mind with an interest in current affairs is the ideal qualification for the course.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify two events that resulted in America re-inventing itself as a consequence of an existential experience.
  • Identify one major reason why America became a committed empire builder, yet ironically refused to accept that she had become one.
  • Consider and conclude whether America appears as committed in the 21st century to re-establishing her post 1990 achievement of absolute world hegemony as the only superpower.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • Limited work in the learners own time, on-line or library searches, not mandatory and only for self improvement and additional contribution to the course. This is not an accredited course.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • Every learner may have a copy of my PowerPoint images with time lines and key note summaries that support my teaching. On conclusion of the course, I download these images onto learner's own flash drive memory sticks.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • Every learner gets a proposed reading list. This covers most of the books and other sources of information, including relevant museum and public exhibition events, that I have used in constructing the course

What can I do next?

Download full course outline

The Rise and Fall of the American Empire Course Outline


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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