When the Institute was founded in 1978, the goal was to establish a center within the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service to promote research and publication on the processes of diplomacy. One core feature necessary to achieve this goal would be to connect the worlds of the diplomatic practitioner and the academic community. This need formed the basis for the ISD Associates program.

ISD Associates are mid- to senior-level practitioners who are detailed by their home agency to Georgetown for research and study. During the first ten years of the program, Associates tended to be diplomats from the agencies of the United States government responsible for international affairs: U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Information Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Depending on the year, diplomats from Europe and Canada were also in residence.

As the program grew, and in recognition of the ever widening list of domestic agencies that engage in international affairs, ISD accepted applications of U.S. Army War College Fellows and U.S. Air Force National Defense Fellows.

In addition, as the Soviet Union fell, funds were raised to include diplomats from Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, each for one year's residence. Programs were established to invite diplomats from the Republic of China and, for a time, senior colonels from People's Liberation Army. 

To date, over 250 practitioners have served as Associates from Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America.

When they conclude their terms, the associates return to their professional lives and often rise to the highest levels:

  • Tatiana Gfoeller (2000) became U.S. Ambassador to Krygyzstan
  • Cameron Munter (1991) became U.S. Ambassador to Serbia and then Pakistan
  • Joseph Sullivan (1993) became U.S. Ambassador to Angola and Zimbabwe

The number of foreign diplomats detailed to the Institute are too numerous to mention. The list includes:

  • Mr. Wang Yi (class of 1998) is China's Foreign Minister, and
  • Riaz Mohammed Khan (class of 1989) was Pakistan's Foreign Secretary.
  • The majority of diplomats from the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs became ambassadors on their return to Korea: Joong-Keun Kim, Singapore; Myong Jin Kim, Bulgaria; Sang-yoon Park (Papua New-Guinea), Chong-yul Kim (Turkmenistan), Hyung-keun Park, Ambassador at Large; Young-won Kim, Ambassador to the Netherlands; and Ro-byuk Park, Ukraine.

The Work of Associates

Associates generally engage in one of three program activities:

  • research and writing on subjects of interest to their home agency and the larger academic/professional community;
  • teach an undergraduate or graduate course within the School of Foreign Service, with classes based on their expertise and interest by students; and
  • conduct seminars or workshops, either based on their research or assist the Institute with events that can best utilize their skills.

While at Georgetown, there will be numerous opportunities to attend events on the campus and in Washington, DC—useful in building professional networks. 

The subject matter varies by associate. Some have just returned from challenging assignments and attempt to fulfill agency needs on lessons learned and next steps. Others want to explore areas that will assist them in their next assignment or discover and recommend improvements in their agency operations.

Associates have contributed to the university in many other ways by participating in Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) oral examination panels and MSFS admissions committees, and to mentor students interested in careers in international affairs.

How Do You Apply to the Associates Program

The core body of Associates is well established with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Air Force. If you are interested in the opportunities afforded to Associates, please express you interest to James Seevers, interim director of the Institute via email at

Associates are asked to consider one or two terms of appointment: a semester—fall or spring—or an academic year. There is an administrative fee with each appointment.

You will find it useful to browse the Associate Profiles provided on this site. Links are also provided to reports written by the Associates under the Publications section of this website and to the Research Interests of current Associates.