My study abroad program is focused on International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy– but what does this entail? What am I learning about? What classes am I taking? What language am I taking classes in?
Let’s take a look at my schedule!
International Relations and Multilateral Diplomacy: In this course, we learn more about the international community and the history of important relationships and policy developments.
Research Methods and Ethics: In this course, we learn about political science research and how to conduct it ethically.
Security, Peace, and Stability: In this course, we learn about how internal and external conflict impact international relations.
French: In this course, we speak in French and learn more French vocabulary and grammar!
Independent Study Project: In this course, students will develop a comprehensive research project during November.
This schedule, as you can imagine, ensures that my classmates and I learn about a wide variety of policy concerns and practices. So far we have read about, and discussed, things like International Humanitarian Law, Terrorism, and even Technological Diplomacy!
However, what is most unique about this program, is the presentation of these topics.
The program has a dynamic schedule that supplements course materials with lectures from experts, field visits, and even negotiation simulations. So far, the program has had: speakers from NGOs, academia, and the public sector; and field visits to the United Nations, Médicins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders), the European Commission in Brussels, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris! I have enjoyed these hands-on learning opportunities because they expose me to the realities of problem-solving in political contexts.
Here is a brief description of two of those experiences:
Negotiation Simulation: My class was split up into teams and had to solve a geopolitical problem, that faced the fictional countries of Borduria, Jurassia, and Salevia, through negotiation. These three countries, acting in accordance with International Law and UNESCO guidelines outlined in the 1972 Convention, had to ease border disputes and determine whether to cultivate oil from a Bordurian/Salevian World Heritage site. I, along with three other students, was a part of the delegation from Borduria. As a Bordurian delegate, I spoke with delegates from other countries to learn more about their interests and how they impacted Borduria’s prosperity. The simulation took one week, four days of informal discussion, and one final day where we were at the formal negotiation table and creating a treaty. This experience was extremely unique because we were advised by a former Swiss diplomat, who gave us tips and tricks on how to negotiate well, how to consider different perspectives when formulating a decision, and how to prioritize our interests when they are at stake.
United Nations Visit: My class visited the UN in Geneva to learn more about the organization’s history. While at the UN, we walked around the grounds, witnessed delegations giving speeches at a Human Rights Commission meeting, and even saw a temporary museum exhibit in the building. It was surreal to explore a place where so many notable discussions took place and ideas came to fruition!
My experiences from this past month and a half have already been extremely rewarding. I have learned so much about international relations and look forward to learning more!