Next Generation Diplomacy

Types of Diplomacy

Most often, the term "diplomacy" is used to describe the interactions of state officials as they employ a specific set of skills and knowledge in order to influence foreign policy. This is known as "hard diplomacy," as this type of diplomacy is conducted formally to achieve established goals that improve international relations. However, the heart of diplomacy is simply the ability to engage in interactions using skill, tact, and sensitivity. The application of diplomatic skills in this more informal way is known as "soft diplomacy." Both hard and soft diplomacy use a style of interaction that promotes trust and respect and builds mutual understanding between parties without arousing feelings of anger or suspicion.

Diplomacy is the ability to respond in an appropriate and meaningful way to the opinions of others while at the same time asserting or reflecting your own ideas back in a thoughtful but productive manner. Diplomacy reduces negative communication and replaces it with positive interactions that support open and effective dialogue.

Diplomacy builds relationships based on mutual respect, which leads to more successful outcomes and the establishment of points of agreement.

Today, diplomacy is exercised in various arenas, including public diplomacy, citizen diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, health diplomacy, and even science diplomacy. Each approach uses the skills of diplomatic communication and interaction in order to positively influence a specific concept or sector.

There are three reasons why education diplomacy should take its rightful place among other diplomacy movements. First, even though education was included in international treaties developed in the mid 20th century, education is now more fully recognized as an essential human right. Therefore, the need to ensure that all people have access to an equitable, quality education is more urgent and requires the skillful delivery of advocacy and knowledge that encourages nations to embrace education and nurture appropriate education practices. Second, the development of free-standing international education movements, such as Education for All, offers new foundations for promoting the importance of education to individuals and to society at large and encourages civil society engagement. Third, education has become widely recognized as a vital ingredient in shaping the trajectory of nations and determining political and socio-economic outcomes. There is much greater appreciation today of the role that education plays in the development of societies, and the participation of societies in efforts to create healthy, productive environments for their citizens and, ultimately, their ability to sustain themselves over time.

First Education Diplomats

People have always been curious about the ways that societies acquire and use knowledge and the ways that children learn. Throughout history, there have been examples of teachers, anthropologists, sociologists, and others with an intense interest in human development traveling great distances to better understand how learning, education, and the cultural tutelage of the young occurs within the context of communities and nations. These international relations of early "explorers" often focused on the exchange of information about the merits of certain philosophies and practices related to formal and informal methods of education. In this way, these early travelers could be considered the first education diplomats.