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The Diplomacy Initiative

A sits positioned in front of a microphone. They are engaged in speaking to a group of attentive students. Beside the speaker, another individual leans in attentively, demonstrating active listening. The atmosphere is focused and engaging as knowledge is shared and absorbed.
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. representative to the United Nations, speaking to students participating in the Diplomacy Initiative’s Washington Week. (Photo by Morgan O’Brien)

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

Marie Yovanovitch speaking mid-sentence. Barbara Stephenson and Graeme Robertson listening intently.
Marie Yovanovitch (center), former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, talks Russia and Ukraine on April 21. (Photo by Jon Gardiner/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

Join us this fall for our annual event series where students engage with experienced and emerging leaders in international affairs and national security through Diplomatic Discussions, student panels and more.

Diplomacy Week 2023

Policy Brief Competition

Twenty-four students, dressed in business casual, stand at the front of an auditorium. The backdrop features a projector screen that has a slide reading "Diplomacy Week: Congratulations to all participants!". The students wave and smile enthusiastically at the camera.
Participants of the 2023 Policy Brief Competition gather for a group photo. (Photo by Ken Huth)

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.

Faculty Resources

Curriculum Development Awards

Funding is available for UNC-Chapel Hill faculty to incorporate experiential learning into existing or new Carolina courses with modules (e.g., case studies or simulation exercises) aimed at solving global challenges. The OVPGA can assist faculty with identifying and, if needed, purchasing relevant case material for their course. Faculty may also request additional support for a graduate student to assist with course planning and development. The next deadline is June 10, 2024.

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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.

Student Resources


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 2023-24 school year to gain access to events and networking and mentoring opportunities. Any student engaged with the Diplomacy Initiative is eligible. Use your UNC-Chapel Hill email address to activate your FREE membership. Select “UNC-Chapel Hill – Diplomacy Initiative” from the University/Programs drop-down menu when you register.


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

Diplomacy Initiative News

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