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The Rethinking Diplomacy Program (RDP) at Duke University focuses on research that brings together diplomats, policy practitioners, faculty, and leading experts in various disciplines for academic collaboration, policy recommendations, and scholarship. The Program aims to provide a forum for redefining the roles of diplomacy in an increasingly globalized and interdependent world, which is characterized by the rise of new international actors, the emergence of contentious political debates within democratic countries, and the relative rise of authoritarian states. It also seeks to identify the skills that would enable diplomats, negotiators, and representatives of public and private institutions to address problems with sophistication, cultural competence and sectoral expertise.

Goals to achieve broad human progress, as set forth in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, require not only a new look at the emerging global challenges but a new look at diplomacy’s capacity to deal with them. One of RDP’s principal goals is to highlight the importance of the combination of soft skills (e.g. communication, cultural awareness, ability to negotiate) and expertise in public health, demography, environment, energy, trade, finance, water, food and other areas in which Duke University features strong academic programs. Through the exchange of ideas, technical expertise, knowledge of world regions, and interaction with practitioners, the Program prepares Duke students and fellows with skills that would enable them to succeed in pursuit of their academic goals and beyond.

Focus Areas

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The Rethinking Diplomacy Program is supported by a grant from the Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation Endowment Fund.