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The Diplomacy Initiative

Marie Yovanovitch speaking mid-sentence. Barbara Stephenson and Graeme Robertson listening intently.
Barbara Stephenson, left, and Graeme Robertson, right, co-hosted a talk by Marie Yovanovitch, center, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, on April 21, 2022. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

From climate change to cyber security to pandemics, the grand challenges of our time do not live neatly within national borders.

The Diplomacy Initiative expands opportunities for students and faculty to learn and teach about the role of diplomacy in solving global challenges. The initiative builds on Carolina’s unique strengths in area and language studies as well as curricula in Global Studies and Peace, War and Defense.

Led by Barbara Stephenson, vice provost for global affairs and former U.S. ambassador, the Diplomacy Initiative delivers on the Global Guarantee and prepares Carolina students to become the next generation of global leaders by giving them direct access to the world of diplomacy.

Washington Week

Through this unique Spring Break experience, undergraduate students have the opportunity to network and learn from Washington D.C.’s global problem solvers, visit hubs of international policymaking and make lasting connections with other Tar Heels who share their interests.

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Diplomatic Discussions

Four people seated behind a black rectangular table. Behind them, velvet curtains lighted with Carolina blue accent lights.
Panelists answering live questions from both an in-person and virtual audience at the 2021 Sisco Memorial Forum. (Photo by Jen Hughey/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Students gain inside perspectives on the world of foreign policy through Diplomatic Discussions. This series brings top foreign affairs practitioners from the U.S. and around the world to UNC-Chapel Hill to give public talks and classroom discussions on current global issues.

If Carolina campus partners would like to host an event as part of the Diplomatic Discussion series, contact Barbara Stephenson, vice provost for global affairs, at

Diplomatic Discussion Events

Diplomacy Week

In this annual spring event series, students engage with experienced and emerging leaders in international affairs and national security through Diplomatic Discussions, an annual policy brief competition and more. Save the date for Diplomacy Week 2023, April 17-21!

Diplomacy Week 2023

Policy Brief Competition

Man standing at a podium, speaking into a microphone. Banner in the background indicates this is a UNC Global event.
Student Isaiah Jackson speaks at 2022 Policy Brief Competition. (Photo by Jeyhoun Allebaugh/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Undergraduate students in selected courses and graduate students at large are invited to submit policy briefs on topics such as biosecurity, climate threats, human rights and NATO & EU defense policies. By preparing and presenting policy briefs that outline key issues and propose policies for addressing them, students develop the practical skills needed for careers in diplomacy, the broader national arena and beyond. UNC alumni and policy practitioners serve as judges for the competition to offer feedback and select winning policy briefs. Winners of the competition receive a cash prize.


Two people talking in mid-conversation
A Tar Heel chats with Kate Hewitt ‘17, public affairs specialist at National Nuclear Security Administration, at the 2022 policy brief competition hosted by the UNC Diplomacy Initiative. (Photo by Jeyhoun Allebaugh/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Carolina students gain access to leading international affairs practitioners with opportunities for small group networking and mentoring with visiting diplomats, alumni working in international affairs and members of the American College of National Security Leaders.

Activate a free student membership to the Women’s Foreign Policy Group for the 2022-23 school year to gain access to events and networking and mentoring opportunities. Students taking any PWAD course are eligible. Use your UNC-Chapel Hill email address to activate your FREE membership.

Faculty Roundtable

Carolina faculty play an instrumental role in the design and implementation of the Diplomacy Initiative. UNC-Chapel Hill faculty and administrators focusing on international relations, defense, peace, area and global studies, and other disciplines meet regularly to discuss integrating Diplomacy Initiative content and resources in their courses and programming.

Carolina faculty interested in the Diplomacy Initiative can contact Sharmila Udyavar,, for more information about how to get involved.


Sharmila Udyavar
Associate Director for Global Education
Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs

Diplomacy Initiative News

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