Council on Foreign Relations Educators Bulletin
Resources for the Academic Community

Special Edition: Backgrounders

July 2014


The Council on Foreign Relations has launched a new portal to house one of its most popular resources—the CFR Backgrounders series. "Backgrounders provide smart, authoritative histories and summaries in a concise, accessible format," writes CFR President Richard N. Haass.

Enhanced with images, graphs, and video, these primers on pressing global issues can now be filtered by region, issue, most recent, and curated series. Additional resources are provided at the end of each Backgrounder.

See below for examples of topics covered or visit the portal at for the full listing.


Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS)

ISIS has capitalized on Iraq's Sunni minority's alienation from the state to wreak havoc and establish zones of authority while expanding its reach into neighboring Syria. Go to the Backgrounder »

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

Mounting fears of Russian aggression in eastern Europe may breathe new life into the Cold War-era security alliance. Go to the Backgrounder »

What is Internet Governance?

An intense international debate over who manages parts of the Internet's technical infrastructure is likely to feed a broader discussion of Internet-related public policy. Go to the Backgrounder »

NAFTA’s Economic Impact

A look at the basics of the North American Free Trade Agreement and its economic impact twenty years after its implementation. Go to the Backgrounder »

Driverless Cars

Tech and auto companies in the United States, Europe, and Asia are moving forward rapidly with efforts to develop driverless cars and street networks. The benefits appear tantalizing, but roadblocks loom. Go to the Backgrounder »


Sarin, one of the world's most lethal chemical weapons, has long been stockpiled but is rarely used by states or terrorists. Allegations of attacks on civilians in Syria, if substantiated, would represent a departure from long-standing international practice. Go to the Backgrounder »

U.S.-Cuba Relations

The U.S.-Cuba relationship remains frozen after fifty years. Despite economic reforms in Cuba and swelling public opinion in favor of resuming diplomatic and economic ties, analysts do not anticipate any normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations in the near to medium term. Go to the Backgrounder »

Boko Haram

Nigera's Islamist group Boko Haram has evolved from a local insurgency to a brutal militant group that the United States has designated a terrorist organization. Go to the Backgrounder »



About CFR

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. Founded in 1921, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy.

About CFR's Academic Outreach Initiative

CFR is committed to serving as a resource for the academic community and encouraging students from all disciplines to consider how international issues shape their own lives and the lives of others across the globe. As part of these efforts, the CFR Academic Outreach Initiative provides a forum for educators and students to interact with CFR experts and join the debate on foreign policy. CFR offers a vast array of research and multimedia tools, developed by leading scholars and practitioners, for teaching and learning about international relations and the role of the United States in the world. For more information, please contact


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