IU Bloomington selected as partner institution for State Department's Diplomacy Lab

  • May 31, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The U.S. Department of State has added Indiana University Bloomington to its list of partner institutions for Diplomacy Lab, a program designed to provide students with hands-on experience on global policy challenges.

Starting in the fall, the IU School of Global and International Studies will serve as the administrative hub for the program, which will call upon faculty and their students from across the campus to consider policy solutions for urgent diplomatic issues identified by the federal agency.

IU Bloomington will join 27 other Diplomacy Lab campuses across the country, including Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, which was selected last year.

“Diplomacy Lab presents a wonderful opportunity for our students to fill a real need for the State Department and its mission to meet international challenges such as democracy and human rights, economic policy, gender equality and food security,” said IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel. “Participants will gain real-world global experience right here in Bloomington that is as useful to the student as to the agency. It also gives students the chance to work closely with an IU faculty member as part of an interdisciplinary research team.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, who visited IU Bloomington in October to commemorate the new School of Global and International Studies, began the Diplomacy Lab in 2013. The program’s concept is to allow the State Department to harness efforts of college students and faculty toward research and innovation related to foreign policy.

Students in select courses work collaboratively under the guidance of faculty members with expertise in a field related to their projects. They devise solutions that the State Department can use on a range of issues such as climate change, weapons nonproliferation, democracy and human rights, counter-terrorism, food security and global health.

Students on a project team engage directly with officials of the State Department to discuss findings and their project’s development. Student teams will also have the opportunity to participate in Wonk Tank, a new policy pitching platform in Washington, D.C., after a competitive selection process.

“Diplomacy Lab will allow students to apply course content to pressing international policy issues while also benefiting from the mentorship of highly qualified faculty,” said Olga Kalentzidou, director of academic initiatives and experiential learning at the School of Global and International Studies and institutional coordinator for the program.

“Experiential learning is one of the core missions of Indiana University and SGIS,” she said. “In the fall semester, we anticipate piloting the program in select courses that will act as incubators for project bidding. We expect that by spring semester 2017, the program will launch across campus by soliciting collaborations from faculty and possibly including collaborations between IU campuses.”

IU Bloomington’s involvement in the program is an outgrowth of a one-year residency at the State Department by IU geological sciences professor Michael Hamburger, who served as a Jefferson Science Fellow with the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs.

“The program offers a remarkable two-way channel of communication between the State Department and America’s great academic institutions,” Hamburger said. “U.S. foreign policy benefits from the research expertise of dozens of faculty and student groups from around the country, and IU’s students and faculty benefit from engagement with real-world diplomatic issues.”

Students who have participated in the Diplomacy Lab have gone on to government internships, graduate work in international relations and permanent jobs with the State Department.

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