The United States and the World, 1945 - 1989

Main Page: Leaving Cert History - Modern Europe and the Wider World

You are on the United States and the World, 1945 - 1989 page.
Each part of this topic has its own sub-page.

The United States and the World brings you across the Atlantic Ocean to examine American history from the end of World War II to the last years of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union.

If you study this topic for your Leaving Cert, you'll look at US history in these years through a number of layers: first through it's Foreign Policy, meaning how the US relates to other countries in the world. When studying US foreign policy you'll be looking in particular at the Vietnam War, as well as other flashpoints of the Cold War and the United States' relations with the Soviets. You'll also look at domestic factors on foreign policy - in other words, how events in the US shaped its policies outside.

Next, you'll look at the US economy, which went from a post-war boom in the 1940s and 50s to a recession in the 1970s and 80s. You'll look at what different Presidents did to try to encourage economic growth, and whether these attempts were successful or not.

Then you'll look at American society, and how it transformed over the four decades in the course. A society that started out supporting its troops overseas and hunting down suspected communists ended up fracturing, with people expressing the belief that the US should never have become involved in Vietnam, and plenty of different protest movements rising. Specifically, you'll examine the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s, and the impact of people such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King on American history. You'll also look at American pop culture in this time, with an emphasis on Hollywood, the mass media, and the role of religion in American society.

Finally, you'll look at how the US developed its military technology, how it managed to land men on the Moon in 1969, and how Information Technology was advanced by companies such as Microsoft and Apple.

It was a busy time for America. Find out more about it through this page!


Introduction to US Politics

Foreign Policy.

US Foreign Policy, 1945 - 1972

Domestic Factors in US Foreign Policy, 1945 - 1972

US Foreign Policy, 1972 - 1989


The US Economy: Boom and Recession, 1945 - 1989

Society and Culture

Society in the United States, 1945 - 1989

The "Age of Consensus", 1945 - 1968

Problems in US Society, 1945 - 1989

The Collapse of Consensus, 1968 - 1989

Religion, Mass Media and Higher Education

Science and Technology
Technology in the United States, 1945 - 1989

 Case Studies:

Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War, 1963-8

The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-6

The First Moon Landing, 1969

Key Personalities (Ordinary Level students should focus on these)

Key Concepts  (Ordinary Level students should focus on these)

The United States and the World in the 
Leaving Cert Curriculum

The Leaving Cert curriculum requires students to study each topic through three perspectives: Politics & Administration, Society & Economy and Culture, Religion & Science. 

The table below is copied directly from the curriculum, and shows how those three perspectives are shown in The United States and the World. Each part links to the relevant page (e.g. Decline of Cold War certainties, 1973-89 links to US Foreign Policy, 1972-89).


Case Studies

Politics and Administration

US politics: structures and tensions - federal government and states; the separation of powers.

The Presidency from Roosevelt to Reagan.

Domestic factors in US foreign policy: McCarthyism, the anti-war movement, race relations.

US foreign policy, 1945-72: Berlin, Korea, Cuba, Vietnam.

Decline of Cold War certainties, 1973-89: withdrawal from Vietnam, d├ętente, SALT and Star Wars.

Society and Economy

Sources of US economic boom: the war, public investment and international financing, 1945-68.

The development of the US industrial structure: the multinational corporation, 1945-68.

The Vietnam War; the federal deficit; domestic recession; international competition from Japan and Europe, 1968-89.

Demographic growth; affluence - consumerism, leisure, the role of work, the changing role of women and the family.

Troubled affluence: racial conflict, urban poverty, drugs and crime.

Culture, Religion and Science

Consensus? 1945-68: Hollywood - the American Dream; the "red scare".

Collapse of consensus, 1968-89: youth culture, "counter-culture" and multiculturalism.

Religion in modern American culture; the mass media in modern American culture, mass higher education.

Advances in military, space and information technology.

In their study of the topic, students should become aware of the role of certain key personalities.

Another "key" to developing understanding will be learning to identify the main issues through a familiarity with certain key concepts.

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