May 28, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

With billions of people crossing borders every year, multinational corporations on the upswing, and technology increasingly breaking down conventional geographic boundaries, our world is more interconnected than ever before. In order to make the most of this interconnectedness, however, something else is required: Diplomacy.

Here’s a closer look at this invaluable field, why an international approach is essential when it comes to today’s diplomacy degrees, and one school with a uniquely international approach to diplomacy.

Diplomacy and the International Imperative

“Diplomacy is the art and science of maintaining peaceful relationships between nations, groups, or individuals. Often, diplomacy refers to representatives of different groups discussing such issues as conflict, trade, the environment, technology, or security,” according to National Geographic.

Many people study diplomacy in the hopes of having sought-after formal careers as diplomats. These prestigious professionals are representatives of their countries who encourage cooperation with other countries in order to promote peace. They can do this through several different career tracks, including as consular officers, economic officers, and political officers. However, degrees in diplomacy confer transferable skills which are applicable in a number of different fields related to international relations and international politics.

Tahir Square 2010
Ebrahim Elmoly - SOAS

While diplomacy can be used in more microscopic contexts, its roots are, by nature,  international. If you’re considering a career in diplomacy or international relations at large, an international diplomacy degree can help you learn the perspectives and skills you need to succeed in our complex and ever-changing world.

And while doctors, therapists, counsellors, teachers and clergy may claim top spots on lists of “most meaningful jobs,” there’s no denying the paramount importance of diplomacy and international relations to the collective wellbeing of the inherently interlinked inhabitants of our planet.

A Singular Solution

When it comes to cultivating unique international awareness and a global atmosphere, one school stands out from the rest: SOAS University of London - home to the Center for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD).

Combining language scholarship, disciplinary expertise, and regional focus, it’s Europe’s only higher education institutions specializing in Asian, African and Near and Middle Eastern studies. SOAS University of London also boasts the continent’s largest concentration of academic staff with backgrounds in these areas.

The takeaway? SOAS students are distinctively positioned to tackle the diplomatic challenges of today and tomorrow across a comprehensive suite of international studies, development and diplomacy programs, including Global Diplomacy, Global Corporations and Policy, Global Energy and Climate Policy, Climate Change and Development, and Muslim Minorities in a Global Context.

Another distinguishing factor of SOAS? Its flexibility and adaptability, which makes it suitable for the diverse needs of today’s students -- especially established professionals working in fields such as diplomatic services, foreign policy, media, multinational organizations, NGOs, development, sustainability, renewables, and environmental issues. In addition to a bustling physical location in the heart of Bloomsbury, Central London, SOAS offers online and distance learning options which deliver programs to more than 3,000 students living and working in over 160 countries. These programs are equal in standard to on-campus programs, but with the customizability to complement each student’s individual personal and professional commitments. SOAS students also benefit from near-endless opportunities for dialogue and exchange with a truly global network of international relations and diplomacy contacts.

Moneychangers, Hargeisa, Somaliland
Paul Patrick Borhaug - SOAS

But you don’t have to take our word for it. Take it from the students themselves: Says graduate Olimpia Dumitru of her experience with SOAS’s distance learning mode, “The distance learning mode is a very efficient way to study, especially for someone like me who had a full-time job and a family to look after. It allowed me the flexibility to arrange my time to do my studies and balance my work and personal life. Both the academic and administrative staff were very supportive. Furthermore, being in a ‘virtual’ class with colleagues from all around the world meant that we could exchange ideas and share opinions and examples of our own governments’ policies….All in all, a very beneficial and enlightening experience!

In speaking to the unprecedented need for diplomacy in the modern world, former Canadian diplomat Daryl Copeland contends, “As we move inexorably into the messy, dynamic, asymmetrical world order that is heteropolarity, governments will need diplomacy – and diplomats – more than ever. There simply are no military solutions to the vexing range of transnational issues that constitute the globalization threat set. To address these sorts of challenges, complex balancing, knowledge-based problem-solving, and genuine dialogue remain the best tools in the shed.”

Are you hoping to take your place among the vital diplomatic leaders charting the way toward a peaceable and productive future? If so, a diplomacy degree from SOAS London may be a perfect fit.




Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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