Switzerland

International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy

Examine the evolving role of multilateral diplomacy in international relations and responses to security challenges from the center of Geneva.

At a Glance

Credits

16

Prerequisites

Relevant previous coursework

Language of Study

French

Courses taught in

English

Dates

Jan 20 ‎– May 3

Program Countries

Switzerland

Program Excursion Countries

France, Belgium

Program Base

Geneva

Critical Global Issue of Study

Geopolitics & Power

Geopolitics & Power Icon

Overview

A global hub for diplomacy, Geneva is home to more than a dozen major international organizations such as the Red Cross, World Health Organization, United Nations agencies, and the World Trade Organization. While delving into high-level multilateral diplomacy, you’ll enjoy the gastronomic and cultural riches of this city and bohemian districts like Carouge, a Mediterranean-style hamlet modeled after Nice. You’ll also visit key intergovernmental organizations in Paris, like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and you’ll go to the European Union headquarters in Brussels to get acquainted with issues involving the EU.

Highlights

  • Network with experts at international organizations and research centers.
  • Travel to Paris and Brussels for a week and delve into hot-button EU issues.
  • Discuss with experts the major geopolitical challenges affecting international relations.
  • Rapidly improve your French language skills through intensive instruction.  

Prerequisites

Previous college-level coursework and/or other significant preparation in international studies or a related academic discipline, such as political science or prelaw, as assessed by SIT.

Excursions

Exploring the European Union in Brussels

The capital of Belgium, Brussels, is also considered the de facto capital of the European Union, as it hosts a number of key organizations such as the European Commission, where you will spend a half day. During your visit, you will meet with EU officials and become well versed in EU issues and structures as you participate in ongoing debates about the evolution of regional integration in Europe. You will find that Brussels reflects both traditions of multicultural Belgium and the rapid growth and influence of EU organizations.

International Affairs in Paris

You’ll meet with experts at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a key intergovernmental economic organization founded to advance economic progress and world trade. Hear from French foreign policy experts and get their take on international affairs. It’s not all work and no play in the city of love and croissants. You’ll have time to explore Paris — a global center for art, fashion, gastronomy, and culture — and practice your French. Enjoy a group dinner and say à votre santé!

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Academics

Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

This program’s interdisciplinary coursework gives students an introduction to the intricacies of international relations, diplomacy, and security in a rapidly changing world. The thematic courses examine diplomacy strategies and intergovernmental, supranational, and regional organizations’ strategies for and responses to current security challenges in the international system. The language course gives students the opportunity to learn, or rapidly advance, their French. Students also develop their skills in gathering, analyzing, and reporting on data.

The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Links between international stability and sustainable development
  • The UN systems and European Union politics
  • The evolving role of diplomacy in contemporary international relations
  • Regional and global security challenges, including geopolitics and security

International Relations and Multilateral Diplomacy

International Relations and Multilateral Diplomacy –  syllabus
(INTS3000 / 3 credits)

This seminar provides an in-depth examination of the evolving nature of diplomacy in contemporary international relations. It considers the impact of the profound changes affecting the contemporary international system on the concept of diplomacy and evaluates how the practice of diplomacy can be adapted to global, regional, and local levels. The seminar also examines the approaches of economic, environmental, and humanitarian diplomacy. It evaluates traditional and nontraditional approaches to diplomacy, taking into consideration the strategies of both state and non-state actors as well as international and regional organizations. A major emphasis is put on the position of the UN system and the European Union in a multilateral diplomatic perspective.

International Security, Peace, and Stability

International Security, Peace, and Stability – syllabus
(INTS3005 / 3 credits)

This seminar provides a thorough background in international security studies. The multidimensional security approach takes into account politico-military security, human security, and the links between international stability and sound economic and sustainable development. It not only addresses national security strategies but also the roles of intergovernmental and regional organizations in helping to prevent and manage conflict and build peace. The seminar also addresses environmental security.

French

Beginning French I – syllabus
(FREN1003 / 3 credits)

Beginning French II – syllabus
(FREN1503 / 3 credits)

Intermediate French I – syllabus
(FREN2003 / 3 credits)

Intermediate French II – syllabus
(FREN2503 / 3 credits)

Advanced French I – syllabus
(FREN3003 / 3 credits)

Emphasis on speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Students are placed in intensive beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing.

Research Methods and Ethics

Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits)

The Research Methods and Ethics seminar provides the theoretical, conceptual, and practical tools for conducting field research in a new cultural environment. The main emphasis of the seminar is on the development of interactive research skills involving the collection of primary data. The theoretical part of the seminar includes lectures on qualitative methods of research in social sciences and, in particular, international relations, interactive research techniques, and the development of a research proposal. The seminar also includes a number of practical exercises such as organizing and conducting interviews with experts in Switzerland, France, and Belgium; development of a research proposal; preparation of an application for review of research involving human subjects; a local case study; and the integration of interviews into a research project. The ethical implications of field research are examined throughout. The seminar helps develop the skills necessary to navigate both the local and international environments of Switzerland. Students undertake a number of field visits to learn the specificities of local and international culture and institutions. The overall aim is to enable students to master experience-based learning processes and prepare them for the development of an Independent Study Project (ISP), which is largely based on data gathered from primary sources.

Independent Study Project

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)

The Independent Study Project (ISP) is conducted in Geneva over four weeks near the end of the semester. Students pursue original research on a topic of interest to them. The ISP offers students a unique, interactive research opportunity in their field of interest in international studies. In most cases, topics of ISPs grow out of lectures, briefings, and discussions from the International Security, Peace, and Stability seminar and the International Relations and Multilateral Diplomacy seminar. Students directly apply the concepts of experience-based learning and interactive research skills learned in the Research Methods and Ethics seminar. The ISP provides students with practical experience for academic and professional development. Students can interview leading experts in fields related to their research project and can create a solid professional network and form a concrete base for future academic and professional career choices.

Sample ISP topic areas:

  • Conflict resolution and multilateral diplomacy processes
  • New threats to global security
  • Roles of international agencies in developing countries
  • Europe and the global power shift
  • Peacebuilding and nation building
  • New approaches to security
  • Human rights and international law
  • Migrations, refugees, and internally displaced persons
  • Protection of humanitarian spaces in conflict zones
  • Humanitarian aid in complex emergencies
  • Non-state actors and international humanitarian diplomacy
  • Geopolitics of natural resources
  • Environmental diplomacy
  • Security strategies of the European Union

Browse this program’s Independent Study Projects / undergraduate research.

Homestays

Nyon

You’ll live with a local family in a village or town near Nyon for 14 weeks during the semester. Located on the shores of Lake Geneva, approximately 15 miles north east of the city center, Nyon and the surrounding area boast a variety of outdoor activities and historical sites. Your homestay in the French-speaking canton of Vaud will enrich your cultural experience during the program.

The picturesque town is surrounded by the Jura Mountains and La Côte vineyards, providing leisure activities on weekends. You will also have the option to participate in local arts groups and sports, enabling you to meet Swiss peers.

Living with your homestay family will help you improve your French language skills and gain insight into the traditional values of Switzerland, such as tolerance, federalism, neutrality, and direct democracy. You will commute to classes and program activities in Geneva just like the locals, using the region’s excellent public transportation system.

Other Accommodations

During excursions to Brussels and Paris, centrally located small hotels

Career Paths

A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Learn what some of them are now doing. Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:

  • Research associate at Albany Associates, London, UK

  • Intern at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva, Switzerland

  • Intern at NASA, Washington, DC

  • Education volunteer with the Peace Corps, Namibia

  • Graduate student (MA in development studies), Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland

Faculty & Staff

Switzerland: International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy

Gyula Csurgai, PhD
Academic Director
Aline Dunant, MA
Academic Coordinator
Christina Cornes, MA
Homestay Coordinator
Heikki S. Mattila, PhD
Academic Advisor

Discover the Possibilities

  • COST & SCHOLARSHIPS

    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

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  • ACCESSIBILITY

    Prepare for an accessible educational experience with SIT Study Aborad! In-country conditions and resources vary by site. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact disabilityservices@sit.edu for more information.

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  • Cornell Senior Awarded International Affairs Fellowship

    Surayya Diggs of Cornell, an alumna of this program, says students interested in pursuing a career in diplomacy should study abroad.

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