The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2020
26 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL You should embark on teaching diplomacy with your eyes wide open to both the challenges and opportunities academia presents. Students (and employers) value an education that includes both practice and theory. FSOs bring deep regional or functional knowledge of how the world works, from the Southern Cone to the Southern Command, from oil markets to oil kingdoms. FSOs understand from firsthand experience the diversity of tools we as a nation can deploy to advance U.S. interests. We grasp intuitively why and when nations opt for economic instruments, gunboat diplomacy, public diplomacy, development and even global health diplomacy to advance their goals. FSOs have participated in real-life case studies when multilater- alism served the country well, and when unilateral action was the better option. They also understand the risks U.S. officials confront daily in their work around the world. FSOs also have a lot to offer students seeking a broad range of careers, as diplomats are well practiced in the critical skills— oral and written communication, including advocacy and nego- tiations; analysis; teamwork; management; and so on—needed for successful careers in business, law, journalism, civil society and other fields. In academia, you will almost certainly find satisfaction in stu- dents’ profound interest in how diplomacy is actually practiced, and the commitment younger generations express for public service. The idealism of many students will remind you of what prompted you to launch your own Foreign Service career. Challenges of Teaching If you are depending on a lucrative post-FS career to pay for your kids’ stratospheric college tuition, teaching may not be for you. Teaching is typically poorly remunerated, particularly for adjunct faculty. (According to the Glassdoor job search website, the national average salary in 2019 for an adjunct professor is $20,394.) Adjunct faculty are often paid between $4,000 and $7,500 per course they teach, hardly a living wage. Teaching, like government service, requires a degree of altruism. Finding teaching positions, especially full-time appointments, can be daunting. While you do not have to be an ambassador or have a Ph.D. to be marketable, those qualifications can help. Teaching may also require new skills—abstract skills to facilitate learning, such as designing effective assign- ments and tests, and tacti- cal skills such as mastering PowerPoint, running class simulations and spotting aca- demic dishonesty. Todd Kushner, a retired FSO who teaches as a contract faculty member at National Intelligence University, recommends The Chronicle of Higher Education ’s free weekly newsletter, “Teaching,” which provides advice on teaching methodologies. You may also need to draw on that classic FSO skill of getting up to speed quickly on an issue if you are asked to teach a course on a region or topic that is new to you. Luckily, you can draw on your myriad contacts throughout government to help you fill those gaps; guest speakers are an important way to jazz up a course. Students highly value hearing from practitioners with up-to-date experience in the issues at hand. If you are lucky enough to land a full-time academic position, you may be struck by the sometimes-daunting inefficiency, bal- kanization, tight budgets and understaffing of many American universities. Your FSO cultural adaptation skills will serve you well to navigate the political sensitivities in this unique setting. Jillian Burns retired from the Foreign Service in 2014, after serving for 21 years as a political officer. Her overseas tours included Poland, Jordan, the UAE and Afghanistan, where she was the consul in Herat. In Washington, she served as a watch officer and senior watch officer in the Operations Center; on the Syria desk, the Iran desk and in the Office of Policy Planning; and as director of the Middle East Office in the Department of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, she taught communications at Georgia Southern University. Since retiring, she has taught as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University in the political science department and the Elliott School of International Affairs. She also teaches at the Foreign Affairs Counter Threat training program. Senior Foreign Service Officer Mark C. Storella is dean of the Leadership and Management School at the Foreign Service Institute. He was a Senior Department of State Fellow at Georgetown University (2018-2019), where he taught courses on diplomatic tradecraft and on humanitarian issues. And as a dean and Virginia Rusk Fellow (2001-2003), he taught at Georgetown as an adjunct professor. He served as deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (2016-2018), deputy chief of mission in Brussels (2013-2016) and U.S. ambassador to Zambia (2010-2013). Other overseas postings include Baghdad, Geneva, Phnom Penh, Paris, Rome and Bangkok.