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Diplomacy Initiative

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 Carolina students and faculty to learn and teach about the theory and practice of diplomacy. The initiative is led by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Vice Provost for Global Affairs Barbara Stephenson, a former U.S. ambassador and senior diplomat, in coordination with numerous academic departments, UNC-Chapel Hill faculty and area studies centers.

Building on Carolina’s strengths in peace, war, and defense curriculum; area studies; and language instruction, the initiative prepares Carolina students to become the next generation of global leaders.

The Diplomacy Initiative levels the playing field for Carolina students seeking careers as diplomats and in the broader national security arena by offering opportunities that are routinely available to students near major international cities like Washington, D.C. This exciting program brings top international relations practitioners to the UNC-Chapel Hill campus – virtually and in-person – to connect with students, share career advice and give students unique access to the world of diplomacy. The program also helps infuse Carolina with a global mindset and delivers on the Global Guarantee – Carolina’s promise that a transformative global education is available to every student.

Diplomatic Discussions

This series of expert talks and panel discussions provides Carolina students with inside perspectives on the world of foreign policy, by inviting diplomats and national security practitioners—traditionally accessible only in Washington, D.C.—to UNC-Chapel Hill.

Diplomatic Discussion Events


Four people seated behind a black rectangular table. Behind them, velvet curtains lighted with Carolina blue accent lights.
Aaron Salzberg, Brian Atwood and Ambassador Kenneth Brill at the 2021 AAD Sisco Memorial Forum on Sept. 9, 2021. (Photo by Jen Hughey)

Partnerships with diplomacy, national security and foreign policy forums expand Carolina students’ access to senior practitioners, with opportunities for networking and career development. The Diplomacy Initiative partnerships include the American Academy of Diplomacyan independent non-profit association of more than 300 former senior U.S. ambassadors and high-level government officials, and the Women’s Foreign Policy Group (WFPG), a non-profit organization that advances women’s leadership in international affairs and amplifies their voices through substantive global issue discussions and mentoring.

Women’s Foreign Policy Group Student Membership

UNC Curriculum in Peace, War and Defense (PWAD) and Curriculum in Global Studies are proud to support WFPG and its efforts to advance women’s leadership in international affairs. Carolina students taking any PWAD or global studies course can activate a free student membership for the 2021-22 school year. Student members are invited to WFPG global issues and professional development events, and have access to networking and mentoring opportunities, including WFPG’s Young Professional Network roundtables. Membership and all global issues programming are open to students who support WFPG’s mission and the Young Professional Network, and 1:1 mentoring programs are designed for students who identify as women. Students, use your UNC-Chapel Hill email address to activate your FREE membership.

Faculty Learning Community

Speaker holding a dress in front of audience, which consists of people sitting around rectangular tables.
Popy Rufaidah, education and cultural attache at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and Hengki Kawilarang, a leading Indonesian fashion designer, speak to students about cultural diplomacy at a Diplomatic Discussion on September 22, 2021. (Photo by Shawn Dawson ’25)

core group of UNC-Chapel Hill faculty focusing on international relations, defense, peace, area and global studies meet regularly to discuss integrating Diplomacy Initiative content and resources in their courses.

Policy Brief Competition

UNC-Chapel Hill students develop the practical skills needed for careers in diplomacy, the broader national arena and beyond by preparing and presenting policy briefs that outline key issues and propose policies for addressing them.

Students will be invited to submit policy briefs on topics such as biosecurity, climate threats, human rights and NATO & EU defense policies for an April 2022 competition.

Diplomacy Initiative News

More Diplomacy Initiative News


Heather Ward
Associate Provost for Global Affairs
Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs