St. Lawrence Announces Coveted Department of State Partnership to Help Shape International Policy
Starting in the fall of 2023, St. Lawrence students will have a unique opportunity to explore and impact real-world foreign policy issues while working alongside career diplomats.
The University has officially signed a partnership agreement with the United States Department of State (DoS) for its Diplomacy Lab program, which harnesses the insights of students and faculty in universities across the country while engaging them in the work of diplomacy. Hosted in the Government Department, the Diplomacy Lab is open to all faculty and students interested in enriching their classroom experiences with hands-on global problem-solving experience.
“In partnering with the U.S. State Department through this program, St. Lawrence joins a select few of the nation’s top colleges offering students this invaluable experience,” says Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs Karl Schonberg. “Our students will work with State Department officials to develop innovative, practical solutions to actual challenges faced by U.S. diplomats, at the same time gaining experiences that will help them chart their paths toward their own careers in global affairs.”
Associate Professor of Government Mert Kartal will serve as the University’s Diplomacy Lab Coordinator. Kartal has been a part of the State Department's Foreign Service Institute (FSI) for about two years, where he designs and runs training courses on European politics for foreign service officers at the State Department. When the FSI brought the Diplomacy Lab program to his attention, he seized the opportunity.
“This partnership is a great example of St. Lawrence's commitment to complementing its top-notch academic curriculum with unique experiential learning activities outside of the classroom,” Kartal says.
Each semester, the DoS will send Kartal and his colleagues a "menu" consisting of approximately 80 projects. These projects cover a wide range of issues that demand innovation and collaboration from multiple perspectives—such as climate change, corruption, cybersecurity, data analytics, economic crises, migration, human rights, and terrorism.
“Diplomacy Lab is, by definition, interdisciplinary and open to all students with an interest in global issues,” says Kartal. “It should be appealing to students interested in exploring how governments can help migrants integrate into local communities or how advanced economies navigate fears of a global banking crisis. They might support efforts to form realistic anti-corruption policy recommendations in Europe and Eurasia, promote human rights in Latin America or the Middle East, prevent droughts and floods in South Asia, or eradicate extreme poverty in Africa.”
Kartal says these examples are just a small sample of the topics that Laurentians might tackle alongside foreign service officers working on the ground.
“Given the nature of each Diplomacy Lab project, our students regularly interact with U.S. diplomats who request their help to address some of the most pressing issues confronting the U.S. and communities around the world,” says Kartal. “In that sense, this program provides a rare networking opportunity.”
In addition to learning from industry experts to enrich their understanding of global problems and potential solutions, students will hone abilities they can apply to any career path.
“Diplomacy Lab helps strengthen students' research, critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, as well as oral and written communication skills, all of which are among the most sought-after skills by employers,” adds Kartal.
According to the Diplomacy Lab website, faculty at partner universities will bid on the topics they’d like to pursue. Topical research can then be conducted as part of a course, seminar, or independent project. Though faculty ultimately vouch for projects, Kartal encourages students to be proactive in pitching the topics they’re most interested in.
“They can talk to their peers to see if they would be interested in working on a specific project together,” he says. “They should then, as a group, pitch the project to their professor. Students play a central role here.”
For more information about this unique experience and to get involved this fall, individuals should contact Kartal directly at email@example.com.