The American Graduate School (AGS) in Paris hosted the 7th annual Graduate Student Conference on "The Roles and Challenges of Diplomacy in the 21st Century: Inclusion and Exclusion in a Globalized World," April 19-20. Participants from Norway, Canada, South Africa, India, the United States, Russia, Spain, Australia, Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Barbados, Venezuela, Belgium and France shared experiences, research findings and ideas on the subject. Around 100 academics, journalists and professional diplomats joined in the audience to take part in the debates.
The conference was entirely organized and fundraised by AGS students, under the supervision of faculty advisor Dr. Ruchi Anand and under the coordination of Student Director Ryan Godfrey ’12, an Arcadia University and AGS dual master's candidate. (Read more about Godfrey's contributions.)
Panels covered diverse aspects of the conference theme such as the growing role of non-state actors, the impact of new communication technologies on diplomacy, power politics and hegemony in international relations, multilateral diplomacy in a globalized world, and the contemporary case of the Arab Spring.
Two students from the International Peace and Conflict Resolution program at AGS's partner institution, Arcadia University, presented at the conference. Allyson McCreery presented "A New Approach to Cultural Diplomacy: The Integration of International Law and Cultural Heritage Management in Deeply-Divided Societies,” while Ariel Otruba presented "Confronting Conceptual Dead Zones and Normative Frames in Separatist Conflict: A Narrative Analysis of Western Media Representations of the 2008 South Ossetia War.”
A highpoint of the conference was a keynote panel that brought together career diplomats from the United States, Lebanon, Germany and Switzerland: H.E. Wilfried Bolewski, former Ambassador of Germany to Jamaica and Belize; Philip Breeden, Minister Counselor for Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Paris; H.E. Dominique Dreyer, former Ambassador of Switzerland to India and China; and H.E. Samira Hanna-El-Daher, former Ambassador of Lebanon to Japan, Cyprus and the Philippines. Pulitzer Prize winner Serge Schmemann of the International Herald Tribune moderated the discussion and Q-and-A session. With a cumulative 130 years of experience in the practice of diplomacy, including having witnessed and taken part in the recent evolution of this domain and with firsthand understanding of the challenges ahead, the panelists shared their views on such questions as the skills needed to be a good diplomat today, the importance of global negotiations versus traditional state-to-state diplomacy, the growing role of NGOs and WikiLeaks.
"Attending this unique discussion between prestigious diplomats and getting a chance to ask them questions was an amazing experience and privilege. This was not like anything you could find in books or on the Internet. The panelists gave us insight into the practice of diplomacy on-stage and backstage. They generously shared their collective knowledge and conveyed their passion for the art of diplomacy," said Arcadia and AGS student Carlyle Taylor’13.
Erik Szedely, a graduate student at the University of Oslo, Norway and at Sciences-Po in Paris, France, commented: "The graduate student conference of AGS in Paris was a fantastic academic and social experience. Two days of presentations on various topics in the field of diplomacy gave us all food for thought and motivation to continue in our studies to better understand the complex realities of world politics. The interaction between students and feedback from both professors and career diplomats are just priceless."
Ambassador Bolewski, one of the keynote panelists, concludes: "The AGS Conference shed some light on the various issues and stakeholders in modern Diplomacy, ranging from non-state actors to the Internet and Public Diplomacy. The young academic participants will now have to carry their interest in the practice of diplomacy to the level of problem-solving. They might discover that creative diplomacy as thinking outside the box matters more than ever, since it is not about perfection, but accommodation."