From interwoven global market economies to policy-driven decisions, the world is a tangled web of connections. We can no longer pretend that what one country’s government decides does not create rippling effects across the entire international community. Create stress on one side... feel the tension on the opposite side of the world. Today, an individual country’s presidential election results can create long-lasting reverberating effects across the globe. Knowing this, it is even more imperative to have talented, educated, level-headed, and well-spoken diplomats at the table negotiating and navigating international trade deals, holding important meetings, and participating at the forefront of diplomatic relations. There has been no better time to study international diplomacy.
The world needs skilled diplomats. Samantha Power, best-selling author of A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide and former US Ambassador to the United Nations, says, “I've been a war reporter and a human rights defender. A professor and a columnist. A diplomat and -- by far most thrillingly -- a mother. And what I've learned from all these experiences is that any change worth making is going to be hard. Period.” International diplomats make hard decisions, so they should be informed decisions. International relations and diplomacy, as a field of study, originated after World War II when academics and scholars began studying not just domestic politics, but also transnational relations, or everything above the individual state. International relations and diplomacy is the study of politics, economics, and law on a global scale. Want to be more informed about the world? Want to open up the world and become a changemaker in our global political system? Here are four reasons why you should study international relations and diplomacy.
1. International diplomacy prevents conflicts - literally preempt wars
Students studying international relations and diplomacy learn skills, which might possibly preempt wars from occurring. While we cannot go back in time, we certainly need to look ahead, especially as we begin to grapple with the impacts and effects of climate change, which is only beginning to wreak global havoc, on not just the natural environment, but also on countries’ economies and politics. The Journal of Diplomacy’s recent article, “Melting Arctic: Implications for the 21st Century” gives examples of what melting of the Arctic means for us right now. Scientist Ziad Al-Achkar writes, “The future of the region will be governed by how serious and effective the global response to climate change is. If current trends continue, it is likely that snow and ice will melt at faster rates, leading to a drastic rise in sea levels around the world. The interests in resource exploration and shipping through the region are likely to only increase.” If wars are waged over resources, with the effects of climate change upon us, it is essential for students studying international relations and diplomacy to learn skills that might offer diplomatic solutions to prevent them. Studying international relations and diplomacy might help preempt war or international crisis.
2. InternationaldDiplomacy is an interdisciplinary field - learn a variety of skills and knowledge
If you like to be omnivorous in choosing classes, and cannot decide on a major, which, to you, seems too narrow, then perhaps studying international relations is the best fit for your varied interests. The study and practice of international relations and diplomacy is interdisciplinary in nature, blending the fields of economics, history, and political science to examine topics such as human rights, global poverty, the environment, economics, globalization, security, global ethics, and the political environment.
For example, the US state of Alaska wants to expand its oil pipeline and its drilling operations. What do you know about it? If you want to join the arguments for or against drilling for oil in ANWR, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, then you would need to study up on the region, its politics and socio-cultural issues, regional and national economics, global implications, environmental effects, and much more. Being informed and learning about how these decisions have both local and global consequences are just some of the ways that international relations and diplomacy are relevant. Its interdisciplinary nature is attractive to many seeking a broad yet in-depth knowledge of the world and a diverse skill set.
Have you ever considered how game theory might apply to international relations and diplomacy? Game theory, or the science of strategy and the skill at predicting other’s decisions, is a relevant skill in diplomacy in action today. Koichi Hamada writes in the Japan Times, “Today, many [specialists in international relations] are better informed about the strategic analysis of political actors’ behavior and decision-making. The relevance of such analysis for economic policymaking is no less obvious: each player on the world stage is not acting independently, but rather considers other players’ possible reactions to his or her action.”
3. International diplomacy is collaborative - working together is better
“I do believe that in order to be a successful negotiator that as diplomat, you have to be able to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Unless you can understand what is motivating them, you are never going to be able to figure out how to solve a particular problem,” said Madeline Albright, international diplomat and the first female Secretary of State in the United States. Clearly, if one does not try to understand the motivations or reasoning behind the actions of those sitting across from them, then how is one going to enter into any type of agreement let alone sign global policies? Diplomacy is collaborative in nature and if you are considering studying this field, it is good to remember that working together is better.
4. International diplomacy is constantly changing - you’ll never get bored
Many careers within international relations and diplomacy are paid well and offer the potential for advancement within the field. But a good salary isn't the only benefit of working in this sector. One major benefit is that you will never get bored. International relations specialists and diplomats frequently travel to foreign countries, meet new and intriguing people, and put into practice foreign language skills and knowledge of local customs and traditions. Daily news posts attest to the constantly changing events and political, economic, and social consequences of actions happening all over the world. You could be on the frontlines, helping to craft important policy decisions, or literally be sitting at the table while significant decisions are made. There is never a dull moment for specialists in international relations and diplomacy.
A career as an international relations specialist and diplomat requires a constant curiosity and a thirst for knowing and learning things. It is challenging, ever-changing, vital, rewarding work that has global impacts. Studying international diplomacy is like opening the door to the world...