The course will examine the tough questions and dilemmas in the practice of contemporary statecraft and diplomacy. It will use a series of case studies to explore how states have successfully built integrated strategies to achieve their objectives and where and why they have failed. It will focus in particular on the changing nature of the tools available to states and the context in which they are used. The team of instructors, current (and former) diplomats and military officers from the SFS Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, will draw from their recent experience to round out the case studies and focus on the challenges of modern statecraft and diplomacy.
There is broad agreement that the next 15-20 years will see massive shifts at the country, regional and global levels—driven by demography, resource scarcity, communications and other technologies, conflict and governance challenges, and much more. There is also agreement that while the broad trends may be clear, their force and direction will depend to a significant degree on the interaction among them—demographic trends and resource consumption patterns, or resource consumption and technology—to take two obvious examples. This seminar is designed to give student the tools and analytical methodologies to think systematically about the future. We will examine both four megatrends identified recently in Global Trends 2030, and a number of variables—for example, the potential for increased conflict and the impact of new technologies—that will affect the trajectory of these trends. Each student will apply the analytical tools and forecasting methodologies studied to a particular country, producing a document that assesses the opportunities and risks that country will face between the present and 2030.
This course will introduce and survey the entire realm of using “big data” approaches to understand human society, applying a non-technical approach that emphasizes the methodologies, tools, thought processes, and mindsets behind these approaches, and how they differ from traditional small-data human-centered study of society and its application to global policy-making. Each week will focus on key methodologies, case studies, and real-world examples, but the high-level focus means students do not need any technical or statistical background for the course. While a focus will be on how to leverage big data for global policy-making, the core approaches and mindsets taught in the class are applicable to nearly every field and will help students in their future careers understand the nuances of the analytic products they consume, how to better leverage such analyses in their work, and how to understand the thought processes behind them to partner or communicate more closely with analysts. In essence, this class will teach the failures and showcases, pitfalls and promise, challenges and opportunities of the big data revolution and laying out a roadmap of how these methodologies and data streams can help inform and shape policy, diplomacy, and our global society.
This seminar will examine how Congress participates—or does not participate—in U.S. foreign policy, and look at the ways in which others attempt to work with and influence Congressional decision-making. It will examine the basic premise that—in any democracy—politics is closely connected to the making and conduct of foreign policy and that in the United States a great deal of the political process plays out in Congress. The first part of the course looks at Congress’ role in foreign policy decision-making historically and in the present, the second examines how Congress is organized to make foreign policy decisions and assert its influence, and the third addresses the interplay between Congress and other political actors in foreign policy decision-making.
The Junior Fellowship in Diplomacy program provides selected BSFS and MSFS students an opportunity to pursue independent study projects that focus on recent and current diplomatic problems, issues and questions. The Institute pairs students with advisors drawn from the Washington, DC community of diplomatic practitioners. Junior Fellows research their projects and draft a substantial study (30 double-spaced pages). Fellows are expected to embark on their projects early in the autumn semester and and completed before the end of the following spring semester. Fellows are also expected to convene panel discussions to discuss their work during the spring semester. They are also invited to participate in other ISD activities during the fellowship year. Each fellowship offers academic credits and a tuition stipend.
Government and non-government actors employ diplomacy to persuade key decision makers to act in the interests of vulnerable people—from providing basic humanitarian relief in natural disasters to life-saving assistance in conflict situations. Aside from traditional actors like the United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who are the influential agents of humanitarianism for internally displaced persons? What options short of humanitarian military intervention are these agents advocating to take place? This course will examine the actors and processes used by government and non-government actors to directly or indirectly provide humanitarian assistance, ensure humanitarian access, and promote a stabilizing transition from relief to development. This seminar will look beyond traditional humanitarian actors to explore the influence, capacity, and innovations of NGOs, think tanks, the private sector, pop culture, Diaspora groups, and the media. The course work will focus heavily on the U.S. role in humanitarian diplomacy for internally displaced persons abroad and will draw from recent and ongoing crises.
With the technological advances and war fighting demands in the 21st century, the U.S. has witnessed a dramatic growth in drone capabilities and missions in national security operations around the world. As a result, the controversial role of drones in these operations continues to be at the forefront of national debate. This course will take a comprehensive look at the evolution, current application and contentious role of drones in the security operations including implications to future defense policy and strategy. The course will begin with an overview of U.S. military force structure and capabilities with a review of the early development of drones. Understanding U.S. military operations and the international security environment since 9/11, the course will assess the impact of drones on shaping U.S. military acquisition programs and force structure over the past decade. Additionally, we will evaluate current drone capabilities and effectiveness in various roles utilizing case studies from recent operations in Southwest and Central Asia. A focused look at current legal and ethical considerations in the use of drones will be addressed as well as additional challenges to drone development including technological and budgetary factors. Finally, the course will conclude with an exploration of future roles for drones in national security, potential implications to U.S. security policy, national defense strategies, and military force structure.
This course will introduce non-experts to the major issues in Syria’s civil war in an effort to understand its impact on the broader Middle East and its importance to U.S. foreign policy. Taught in a seminar format by a Foreign Service Officer with extensive experience working on Syria in the field and in Washington, the course will begin with a brief survey of modern Syria and the origins of the Syrian civil war. We will then study the Arab Spring’s arrival in Syria and how a once peaceful revolution devolved into a bloody civil war. Finally, we will analyze the conflict’s impact on the region. Along our journey, we will discuss external interests in Syria, from those of regional powers such as Iran and Saudi Arabia to Russia and the United States. We will also look at the evolution of U.S. policy vis-à-vis Syria, and the lengths and limits of U.S. statecraft. From human rights and counterterrorism to Middle East peace and non-proliferation, the Syrian case study encompasses a broad spectrum of policy issues for students with an interest in national security, statecraft, and the Middle East.