Isolationism Lesson Plan

Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

If you are examining historical political policies, this lesson plan explores an important one, isolationism. Students will watch a video, participate in discussion questions, an activity and take a quiz.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Define isolationism
  • Discuss the history of isolationism
  • Describe specific examples of how countries instituted the policy


60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.


Develop the topic thoroughly by selecting the most significant and relevant facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience's knowledge of the topic.


Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation provided (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic).



  • Begin the lesson by asking students if they have every poked their nose in someone else's business that did not involve them. Allow students to share their experience.
  • Then explain that there is a policy that countries should mind their own business in matters that do not affect them called isolationism, which we will explore further.
  • Distribute a copy of the Isolationism: Definition, Policy & Examples lesson, then start the video, pause at 02:12 and pose the following questions:
    • Define isolationism as outlined in the video
    • Why do you believe countries follow this policy?
    • Define non-interventionism and protectionism and discuss the relationship between the two.
  • Now restart the video, play until 07:12, shoulder pair students and ask these questions:
    • Have most countries adopted isolationism as a reaction or proactive measure?
    • Based on the video, China, Japan, Switzerland and Great Britain all adopted isolationism; which showed the greatest example of the concept? Explain.
    • Describe how America instituted isolationism.
    • Which American is the most famous isolationist? Why?
    • Has isolationism grown in modern times? Explain.
  • Allow pairs to share their responses, then reconvene the class and play the video until the end.
  • Afterwards, distribute a hard copy of the lesson quiz to demonstrate learning. Students may complete independently, in pairs or groups.

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