Title: Despatches | ISD 2023 Retrospective
Dear Friends of ISD,
Before we fully come to terms with the realities facing us in 2024, we thought we would look back on our achievements and milestones in the year just past, ISD’s 45th anniversary year. At a time marked by complex geopolitical challenges and transnational threats, the rise of disruptive populism and nativism, with climate change undeniable and with increasingly catastrophic effects, and economic uncertainties, diplomacy continues to stand as the cornerstone for building peace, fostering cooperation, and enhancing prosperity. With the support of our community, the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy
remains committed to sharing insights from across the scholar and practitioner worlds, and preparing the next generations of thoughtful, courageous, and innovative policy makers.
Most notable was the opening of Pickering House, named in honor of the Institute’s longest serving chair of the Board of Advisors, Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering. After years – decades? – working out of two slowly dilapidating townhouses, the Institute was able, through the generosity of the University and the work of the Capital Projects team, to move into a fully renovated historic building just outside the campus Main Gate. The new House, with space for offices, a conference room, and staff and fellows work areas, is tailored to the diverse needs of our community and befits our mission and work. For the first time in our nearly half-century, we are all under one roof. Pickering House was officially inaugurated on September 28, 2023, in its spacious back patio. Tom was personally honored for his contributions over the decades to the Institute, the University, and to the profession of diplomacy. Also honored were the contractors and trades that had worked assiduously over just four months to transform two ramshackle student housing units into one extraordinary office.
This past spring ISD honored two of American diplomacy’s stars with the J. Raymond “Jit” Trainor Awards for Excellence in the Conduct of Diplomacy, CIA Director Ambassador William J. Burns (technically the 2022 recipient) and US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Linda-Thomas Greenfield. Each provided insights into the conduct of diplomacy over the course of their careers, and on current events, as well as into their own particular journeys over those careers. I invite you to share in those stories at these links.
ISD’s Executive Master’s in Diplomacy and International Affairs (EMDIA) launched in September 2021 in cooperation with the government of the State of Qatar and Georgetown University’s campus in Doha. Designed to meet the professional needs of rising Qatari diplomats and other officials, it has exceeded all expectations. EMDIA has consistently attracted strong, diverse leaders, men and women, and the current cohort, our third, is no different. With courses taught by the best of the School of Foreign Service faculty, EMDIA showcases the world-class education GU and SFS provide to its students. Sharing
GU and ISD’s view of the success and value-added of the program, the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs has extended the contract for an additional three years.
As part of that tradition of exceptional education, the Institute continues to offer at least 16 courses a year at the undergraduate and graduate levels. While ISD senior staff all teach, our work is supplemented and complemented by the varied and rich assortment of courses offered by our eleven Department of State and US military fellows. The courses include Foreign Policy and the Media; America and the Middle East: Lessons in Applied History; National and Defense Strategy, U.S. Refugee Policy Development and Implementation; and Global Governance in an Era of Great Power Rivalry. A number of fellows also, advise our student research fellows on their year-long projects, mentor undergraduate certificate in diplomatic studies candidates, and three fellows will also direct graduate Certificate in Diplomatic Studies capstone courses on the Indo-Pacific, Latin America, and the Arab Gulf states. Click here to read their full bios or delve deeper into our course offerings.
The Georgetown Leadership Seminar, now in its 42nd year, welcomed 32 participants from 27 countries for week’s intensive look at key international challenges presented by both Georgetown faculty and outside practitioners. The seminar brings together rising leaders from around the world and a broad range of professional backgrounds – government, private sector, NGOs and the like. What always begins as a room of strangers ends as a tight-knit group with connections and networks that will last a lifetime, and a deeper appreciation of other perspectives on issues as well as on the range of issues themselves. GLS has long been a flag-ship program for the University. Nominations from the 1000 plus members of the GLS alumni community are a key source of new talent for each year’s seminar. In addition, recommendations and sponsorship from partners including the Digital Impact Alliance, GHR Foundation, the Jan Karski Educational Foundation, the pa.group, and the ISD Board of Advisors play a vital role in ensuring the program’s continued excellence. That tradition continued in 2023.
ISD continued its strong partnership with The Asia Foundation, hosting the week-long Washington portion of the annual Young Asian Diplomats program for the third time in June 2023. The cohort of diplomats represented fifteen different countries across South, East, and Southeast Asia, as well as the Pacific Islands. They learned from distinguished Georgetown faculty and ISD State Department Fellows about a host of regional topics, including China’s economic relationships in South Asia, US security policy China-US relations, and Russia’s war in Ukraine. The faculty and fellows covered functional issues, such as international negotiation, humanitarian crises, strategic corruption, data and diplomacy, international development, climate security, and international law. The participants also met with senior officials from the State Department’s Bureau of South Asian and Central Asian Affairs and the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, as well as the Pentagon’s Indo-Pacific Command.
Through a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the James R. Schlesinger Endowment, ISD, in collaboration with Professor Emeritus Chet Crocker, hosted a series of working groups to explore the long-term implications and accelerated global trends coming from the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. The working groups brought together experts and practitioners from academia and the policy world for two rounds of lively and thought-provoking debates on the myriad ramifications of the war and the world’s – not just the West’s – response. The conclusions and recommendations were published in late summer in a report entitled The Ripple Effect, which highlighted a core shift in power to and exercised by rising middle powers. The full report is here. A corresponding article was also in War on the Rocks, and the report was rolled out at an event co-sponsored by USIP, with the video link here.
Also supported by our grant from the Carnegie Corporation, the online diplomacy-centric Case Studies Library continues to grow and expand its roster of instructors and authors. Two new cases last year focused on the importance of gender representation in conflict negotiations – Negotiating Peace and Justice: Women’s Leadership, Participation, and Representation in the Process to End Civil War in Guatemala, and one on the impact of sports in diplomacy – Les Bleus’ Basketball in China: The Power of Sports Diplomacy.
ISD has also ventured, with both feet, into new platforms to explore global issues and to connect practitioners, scholars, and students on matters of importance. ISD’s podcast, Diplomatic Immunity, is well into its sixth season and in October introduced a new weekly format with the addition – on alternating weeks – of Headlines and History, a wrap up of recent foreign policy and diplomacy news. Episodes in 2023 included a discussion of the role of intelligence in war and diplomacy with former CIA director Mike Morell, and an examination of the resurgence and unity of NATO. You can listen to Diplomatic Immunity wherever you get your podcasts. Last year, ISD also published dozens of articles on diplomatic statecraft and international affairs by practitioners, scholars, and students in its online magazine, The Diplomatic Pouch.
Ever mindful of the need to support, encourage, and educate those who will take on today’s challenges, ISD remains deeply engaged in the student life of Georgetown. Our undergraduate and graduate certificates in diplomatic studies remain highly popular with SFS students. The Don McHenry Fellows in Transformative Global Public Service, a scholarship and programmatic program funded by Ambassador McHenry and the School of Foreign Service, welcomed its fourth cohort in the fall of 2023, and will graduate its third cohort this May. The Institute supports eight student research fellows each academic year who explore emerging threats and challenges from a policy perspective under the mentorship of an ISD fellow. ISD actively engages with the School’s Career Center on developing and directing an enriching program for the extraordinary number of State Department Pickering, Rangel, and Payne Fellows. And, we continue to conduct the Diverse Diplomacy Leaders Video Speakers Series which connects former and current career diplomats and foreign affairs professionals with students well beyond The Hilltop in candid discussions on the obstacles and opportunities of careers in foreign affairs. With nearly 40 interviews in its library, Diverse Diplomacy has become a unique resource for ground truth on life as a diplomat.
If you have read this far, thank you. I hope you have found this recap of our past year rewarding. We look forward to keeping in touch throughout 2024.