Teaching Diplomacy

Sharing Wisdom (And Curricula!) About Teaching Diplomacy, International Affairs, and Other Associated Topics

AFSA is piloting this new teaching sharing space in its role as a convener for the interchange of ideas regarding the practice of diplomacy, international affairs, and other associated topics. Members who transitioned into academia in their post-Foreign Service Careers report that developing curricula is challenging. They emphasized how much they wished they could readily collaborate with other retired FS personnel who have experience in this sphere. Why start from scratch when such a rich brain trust exists? This is the inspiration behind this page.

This page is broad in its definition of the terrain covered. A prime focus is on how to teach the practice of diplomacy, and its coupling of strategic thinking with practical solutions. Also included is the teaching of international affairs and the role of diplomacy, different matters entirely.

AFSA considers this initiative not only a valuable service to members, but also a significant step in building an understanding of diplomacy and its importance to the security and prosperity of the United States, a critical part of AFSA’s mission.

Special thanks to Ambassador (ret.) Ronald Neumann, the President of The American Academy of Diplomacy, who has generously shared the AAD’s treasure-trove of curricula, for which a link is available below. Another special thanks to Ambassador (ret.) Barbara K. Bodine, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy and concurrent Director of the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, who shares with us how to access Georgetown’s Case Studies Library dedicated to diplomatic practice. Thank you also to President Susan Rockwell Johnson of The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, who saw to it that the Association’s impressive collection of oral histories, publications, and other materials was made available to AFSA. And, finally, thank you to Jillian Burns, an instructor at George Washington University, who has worked with AFSA from the beginning on this initiative.

Below please find resources which can inform the teaching of diplomacy, development, and international affairs. AFSA will continue to solicit input from the many FS educators out there, many of whom have already volunteered to participate in this initiative. Finally, you also will find a few sites that provide leads for employment opportunities in relevant fields and a LinkedIn site, “Foreign Policy Practitioners-Educators Network.”

If you have resources to contribute or suggestions please contact:

Dolores Marie Brown, Retirement Benefits Counselor
(202) 944-5510

The American Academy of Diplomacy

The American Academy of Diplomacy has put a number of resources on line for those, particularly former diplomats, interested in teaching. The Academy has placed online a collection of Summaries and Syllabi of Diplomatic Practice Courses, taught by AAD members. It is indexed by university and course name for easy reference.

In addition, the Academy cooperated with the International Center for Jefferson Studies in a conference on diplomacy and education. The discussion ranged from Jefferson’s stress on the importance of an educated citizenry to alternative methods of teaching employed by former senior ambassadors. Specific tools available are:

  • A summary of the workshop discussion on alternative teaching approaches
  • A list of suggested readings on Diplomatic Memoirs
  • A summary of the overall conference.

The Academy also offers a list of Suggested Readings on Diplomatic Practice on its website.

The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST)

The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission of capturing, preserving, and sharing the experiences of U.S. diplomats. ADST records oral histories of retired diplomats, family members, and others connected to diplomacy. Its collection is comprised of over 2,200 oral history transcripts that can be accessed and searched HERE. The oral histories serve as primary sources that are informative to historians, family, journalists, diplomats, and other researchers. The collection represents the diversity of those involved in diplomacy, including the LGBTQ+ community, women, African-Americans, Latinos, and Muslims.

ADST also supports the publication of books pertaining to diplomacy and the Foreign Service. These books are useful resources for academic purposes. ADST’s publication series include: Diplomats and Diplomacy and Memoirs and Occasional Papers. A list of non-ADST books that may be of interest to researchers and educators is maintained on ADST’s website as well. ADST’s material also includes video series, Podcasts, and articles highlighting Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History; several of our resources have overlapping content in different formats to increase accessibility. ADST even has six lesson plans for educators available to the public. Country & Subject Readers compile our oral histories by country or topic in order to facilitate research.

If interested in any of the resources ADST has to offer, please contact the Oral History Program Manager at oralhistory@adst.org or by calling 703-302-6990 for questions regarding the collection or assistance in research.

Georgetown University

Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy (ISD) actively supports scholars and practitioners engaged in teaching diplomacy at the high school, undergraduate and graduate level. A primary tool is the Case Studies Library, a unique online library dedicated to diplomatic practice. Modeled on the case study method at law and business schools, each ISD case study examine a particular issue or event, the historical context, the players and interests, the options and limitations, and the key decision points. Students are encouraged to think through not solely what happened, but why. 

The cases cover all parts of the world and several decades of primarily US diplomatic policy. The collection includes cases on the Balkans; the Arab Spring; health diplomacy (e.g., Ebola or PEPFAR), women, peace and security; nuclear disarmament; and the First Gulf War, among many others. Most are written by practitioners directly involved in the event. And many have extensive teaching notes to guide instructors.

The Case Studies Library includes a number of structured simulations/negotiations, both fictional and real world. All of ISD’s cases can be searched online by keywords or topics – or simply browse through the summaries. Lists of suggested case study titles grouped by course type are provided. Course directors and instructors can access, search, and download instructor copies via the Case Studies Library online Faculty Lounge – there is no charge to set up a Faculty Lounge account or download PDF files. Coming soon: new case studies and an enhanced search function.

ISD also invites those interested to read Director Barbara K. Bodine's 2015 Foreign Service Journal article on teaching diplomacy.

AFSA Teaching Members' Syllabi and Guidance

AFSA Teaching Resources

Inside a U.S. Embassy, the essential guide to the Foreign Service, was published in 2011 by FS Books, a division of the American Foreign Service Association. A unique introduction to the Foreign Service, the book is used in colleges and universities nationwide. For a list of the universities that have adopted the book for a course, click here. AFSA also is proud to write that the book was named a 2017 Washington Post bestseller!

The Foreign Service Journal (FSJ) Digital Archive, which you can access by clicking here, contains one hundred years of diplomatic history, a unique resource that is now online and searchable. The site also provides access to Special Collections ranging from Frontline Diplomacy to Human Rights, from Terrorism to Public Diplomacy and beyond.

Diplomacy Works Collection – Part I and Diplomacy Works Collection – Part II, are compendiums of The Foreign Service Journal’s very own case studies. The FSJ reached out to AFSA’s membership, asking for their stories of a time, an event, or a day when diplomacy achieved an important objective. Written by active-duty and retired members of the U.S. Foreign Service, these accounts offer vivid illustrations of the indispensable everyday work of career diplomats and development professionals around the world.

The Economic Diplomacy Works Collection, like the Diplomacy Works Collections described above, also is a compendium of The Foreign Service Journal’s case studies. These studies, however, focus on powerful examples of the work Foreign Service personnel perform around the world every day to promote U.S. business interests.

Department of State

U.S. Diplomacy Center

The U.S. Diplomacy Center Education program connects high school and college students with the work of diplomats. Teaching materials to facilitate diplomatic simulations are available at USDC Simulations.

The Office of the Historian

Dr. James Graham Wilson of the Office of the Historian graciously provided the links below as useful for those building syllabi for courses on diplomacy and foreign relations.

The Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series presents the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity. The entirety of the series going back to 1861 is now digitized as well as searchable and filterable by terms and dates at https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments.

In addition, there is a lot more information about the State Department’s institutional history on the main site, https://history.state.gov, which lists principal officers, country recognition, etc. although this may be a lesser priority for teaching purposes.

The Woodrow Wilson Center has an outstanding database of digitized primary documents from foreign archives; it is the closest analog to a non-U.S. FRUS document repository. In teaching a course on, say, “The Global Cold War,” this resource is as vital as the FRUS series and is available at https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/.

Dr. Wilson also highly recommends the resources of the National Security Archive, which is hosted at GWU (though not formally part of George Washington University). The National Security Archive has more in the way of recent U.S. documents from the 1990s and post-9/11 eras than FRUS. So, for teaching more recent topics—especially the years during which FSOs served—it is an invaluable resource: https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/.

For any member who is considering teaching, Dr. Wilson also strongly recommends that they consider joining the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) https://www.shafr.org/, which is the association of diplomatic historians. The dues are modest (around $100 a year), while membership includes a subscription to Diplomatic History, which remains the flagship journal, as well as Passport, which includes articles and roundtables on teaching. SHAFR holds its annual 3-day conference every odd year (2019, 2021, etc.) at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View. This most recent session included a day hosted at Georgetown by the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. SHAFR's specific resources for teaching are available at https://www.shafr.org/teaching/higher-education.

Finally, Dr. Wilson encourages folks to sign up for H-Diplo. It’s free, and it’s invaluable. A recent roundtable is available here: https://networks.h-net.org/node/28443/discussions/5548485/h-diploissf-roundtable-11-8-back-channel-memoir-american.

LinkedIn: Foreign Policy Practitioners - Educators Network

Retired FSO, adjunct instructor at George Washington University, and AFSA member Jillian Burns manages a LinkedIn network entitled Foreign Policy Practitioners-Educators Network. This network is for foreign policy practitioners who transition into teaching international relations at any educational level. It also is a platform for members to seek advice on designing classes and assignments, share best practices and resources, post job openings, etc. To join, send her a request at https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12140565/.

USAID Alumni Association

USAID’s Alumni Association has generously shared with AFSA its on-line library of syllabi on international affairs and development taught by practitioners, which can be found here.

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Sign up here to receive The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Teaching newsletter, a weekly roundup about teaching and learning. It’s put together by Dan Berrett, who oversees stories about teaching and other topics; Beckie Supiano, who covers teaching, learning, and the human interactions that shape them; and Beth McMurtrie, who writes about technology’s influence on teaching and the future of learning.

The Council on Foreign Relations

AFSA members who teach highly recommend The Council on Foreign Relations Academic page, which directs you to multiple useful resources.

Chronicle Vitae

You can search for faculty and research jobs at Chronicle Vitae.

Global Jobs

The Global Jobs site isn’t specific to teaching, but you can plug in “professor of practice” and get results. In general, it’s a great website for Foreign Service personnel looking for their Next Stage job.