Teaching Diplomacy

Sharing Wisdom (And Curricula!) About Teaching Diplomacy, International Affairs, and Other Associated Topics

AFSA is piloting this new teaching sharing space in its role as a convener for the interchange of ideas regarding the practice of diplomacy, international affairs, and other associated topics. Members who transitioned into academia in their post-Foreign Service Careers report that developing curricula is challenging. They emphasized how much they wished they could readily collaborate with other retired FS personnel who have experience in this sphere. Why start from scratch when such a rich brain trust exists? This is the inspiration behind this page.

This page is broad in its definition of the terrain covered. A prime focus is on how to teach the practice of diplomacy, and its coupling of strategic thinking with practical solutions. Also included is the teaching of international affairs and the role of diplomacy, different matters entirely.

AFSA considers this initiative not only a valuable service to members, but also a significant step in building an understanding of diplomacy and its importance to the security and prosperity of the United States, a critical part of AFSA’s mission.

Special thanks to Ambassador (ret.) Ronald Neumann, the President of The American Academy of Diplomacy, who has generously shared the AAD’s treasure-trove of curricula, for which a link is available below. Another special thanks to Ambassador (ret.) Barbara K. Bodine, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy and concurrent Director of the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, who shares with us how to access Georgetown’s Case Studies Library dedicated to diplomatic practice. And, finally, thank you to Jillian Burns, an instructor at George Washington University, who has worked with AFSA from the beginning on this initiative.

Below please find resources which can inform the teaching of diplomacy, development, and international affairs. AFSA will continue to solicit input from the many FS educators out there, many of whom have already volunteered to participate in this initiative.

If you have resources to contribute or suggestions please contact:

Dolores Marie Brown, Retirement Benefits Counselor
(202) 944-5510

The American Academy of Diplomacy

The American Academy of Diplomacy has put a number of resources on line for those, particularly former diplomats, interested in teaching. The Academy has placed online a collection of Summaries and Syllabi of Diplomatic Practice Courses, taught by AAD members. It is indexed by university and course name for easy reference.

In addition, the Academy cooperated with the International Center for Jefferson Studies in a conference on diplomacy and education. The discussion ranged from Jefferson’s stress on the importance of an educated citizenry to alternative methods of teaching employed by former senior ambassadors. Specific tools available are:

  • A summary of the workshop discussion on alternative teaching approaches
  • A list of suggested readings on Diplomatic Memoirs
  • A summary of the overall conference.

The Academy also offers a list of Suggested Readings on Diplomatic Practice on its website.

Georgetown University

Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy (ISD) actively supports scholars and practitioners engaged in teaching diplomacy at the high school, undergraduate and graduate level. A primary tool is the Case Studies Library, a unique online library dedicated to diplomatic practice. Modeled on the case study method at law and business schools, each ISD case study examine a particular issue or event, the historical context, the players and interests, the options and limitations, and the key decision points. Students are encouraged to think through not solely what happened, but why. 

The cases cover all parts of the world and several decades of primarily US diplomatic policy. The collection includes cases on the Balkans; the Arab Spring; health diplomacy (e.g., Ebola or PEPFAR), women, peace and security; nuclear disarmament; and the First Gulf War, among many others. Most are written by practitioners directly involved in the event. And many have extensive teaching notes to guide instructors.

The Case Studies Library includes a number of structured simulations/negotiations, both fictional and real world. All of ISD’s cases can be searched online by keywords or topics – or simply browse through the summaries. Lists of suggested case study titles grouped by course type are provided. Course directors and instructors can access, search, and download instructor copies via the Case Studies Library online Faculty Lounge – there is no charge to set up a Faculty Lounge account or download PDF files. Coming soon: new case studies and an enhanced search function.

ISD also invites those interested to read Director Barbara K. Bodine's 2015 Foreign Service Journal article on teaching diplomacy.

AFSA Teaching Resources

Inside a U.S. Embassy, the essential guide to the Foreign Service, was published in 2011 by FS Books, a division of the American Foreign Service Association. A unique introduction to the Foreign Service, the book is used in colleges and universities nationwide. For a list of the universities that have adopted the book for a course, click here. AFSA also is proud to write that the book was named a 2017 Washington Post bestseller!

The Foreign Service Journal (FSJ) Archive, which you can access by clicking here, contains one hundred years of diplomatic history, a peerless resource that is now on-line and searchable. The site also provides access to special collections ranging from Terrorism, to Public Diplomacy, to Human Rights.

Diplomacy Works Collection – Part I and Diplomacy Works Collection – Part II, are compendiums of The Foreign Service Journal’s very own case studies. The FSJ reached out to AFSA’s membership, asking for their stories of a time, an event, or a day when diplomacy achieved an important objective. Written by active-duty and retired members of the U.S. Foreign Service, these accounts offer vivid illustrations of the indispensable everyday work of career diplomats and development professionals around the world.

The Economic Diplomacy Works Collection, like the Diplomacy Works Collections described above, also is a compendium of The Foreign Service Journal’s case studies. These studies, however, focus on powerful examples of the work Foreign Service personnel perform around the world every day to promote U.S. business interests.

Department of State

The U.S. Diplomacy Center Education program connects high school and college students with the work of diplomats. Teaching materials to facilitate diplomatic simulations are available at USDC Simulations.