Best Places to Study Public Policy & Diplomacy Abroad

by Niki Kraska

So, you think the “International Day of Peace” should be an everyday thing and not a one day event? We hear ya.

Every year on September 21st, World Peace Day is celebrated as a global commitment to strengthening peace amongst nations and peoples. Looking at our world, this should probably be extended to an entire month or at least a week...but hey, it’s a start.

In honor of this day and GoAbroad’s commitment to meaningful travel, we want to throw out a huge THANK YOU to all those students studying public policy to better our world. What better way to promote peace, expand your knowledge, and increase the breadth of your impact than by studying public policy and diplomacy!

Lake Geneva in Switzerland
Study along the shores of Lake Geneva and potentially rub elbows with the UN and Red Cross.

If you have your eye on careers in the foreign service, governmental departments, United Nations, or even NGOs, studying public policy and diplomacy abroad will provide you with a more comprehensive understanding of the factors at play in international relationships. Let World Peace Day be your inspiration for studying abroad. Read on to learn where the best places to study public policy and diplomacy abroad are:

Switzerland

The hub for the largest number of international organizations, and seen as one of the most diplomatic countries in the world, Switzerland is an easy pick for public policy study abroad. You will be in proximity to some of the most powerful and well-known agencies of the United Nations and Red Cross, in addition to over 200 other intergovernmental organizations. International diplomacy is basically in the air you’ll breathe while studying in Switzerland!

Universities in Switzerland, like The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, offer a range of opportunities for students to get up close and personal with world organizations based in Geneva. From studies in global governance and policy interventions to opportunities with the UN itself, you’ll return home with a backpack full of experience and a better sense of the path you need to take to become a diplomat.

EU commission in Brussels
Get an inside look at the EU in Brussels

Belgium

Another key player on the international stage, Belgium is an administrative center for many prominent organizations and conferences. If your main interest is European affairs, head to Brussels, where you’ll find the central institutions of the European Union along with many agencies with European ties, like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The EU’s eminent presence in Brussels draws a large international community. As a study abroad student, don’t be surprised if the guest lecturer of the day is a foreign minister or high-level EU policy maker!

Belgium is also a neighbor to Germany, France, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, which are all home to places of interest (i.e. The Hague, Paris, etc.) for public policy and diplomacy students. With easy and affordable Interrail travel in Europe, you can take some extracurricular trips to do even more learning on your own time to expand your learning.

China

China is well-known for having the fastest-growing economy in the world. With great economic status comes great influence on a global scale, but economy isn’t the only factor that comes to play in diplomacy. With a country as large and populous as China, and one that strives to be a driving force in international policy, there is much to study and learn in China related to how they manage relationships amongst allies and frenemies.

Hong Kong city skyline
Aspiring Global Economists should look into programs in Hong Kong.

Even more, you will have a range of options to study public policy in China and will be able to meet people from all over the world, especially by studying in Hong Kong or Beijing. If these two mega-cities interest you, check out courses offered at Loyola University’s Beijing Center or the Asia Institute for Political Economy, located in HK. If your interests lie in international economics or business policy, learning Mandarin while studying in China is a wise choice! But, don’t worry if you aren’t ready to branch out from English just yet, it is possible to study in China in English.

Japan

While China may be the first country that comes to mind when considering studying public policy in Asia, Japan should not be overlooked. Japan is part of the UN as well as a member country in key international meetings on economics, security, and global issues.

In recent years, Japan has steadily grown as a world power. Not only does it have a strong economy, its military is well-funded and highly developed with numerous modern technologies at their fingertips. Yet, even with one of the largest military budgets, the country only utilizes its forces for internal disputes and restricts its use for international disputes strategically.

More importantly (especially on International Day of Peace), Japan ranks highest of any Asian country on the Global Peace Index and has consistently been named among the top 10 on this index annually. If Asia is calling you and diplomacy is your middle name, then Japan may be the right place for you to study abroad!

Tokyo cityscape
Learn how Japan has earned their ranking on the Global Peace Index in Tokyo.

United States

If you want to study public policy in a country that has the largest political and cultural influences in the world, the United States is the place to be. In a dominant country like the U.S., much can be learned about global responsibility. From its allied partnerships all over the globe to more turbulent relations in the Middle East, students can gain expertise studying public policy at some of the top universities in the world for the field.

The nation’s capital, Washington D.C., is the best place to study public policy if you’re looking for an international hotspot. Embassies from almost every country can be found there, and most students will be lucky enough to get an insider’s look into various government offices during site visits around the city. If you are looking for an alternative to D.C., head to New York to (hopefully) brush shoulders with staff at the United Nations Headquarters!

How to Studying Abroad Will Help You Become a Diplomat

Regardless of the best places to study public policy and diplomacy abroad listed above, know that there are range of locations you can choose from; the best location for you depends on your main interests and career goals. Looking into study abroad programs in the Middle East or Africa, for example, can be both politically and culturally enlightening and bring an increased understanding to the complications surrounding conflict resolution. The countries above are only the tip of the iceberg, but studying abroad can definitely teach you how to become a diplomat and begin your international career!

UN Headquarters in New York City
UN Headquarters in New York City

Diplomats have a tough job; not only are they 100 percent representative of their native country, but they need the skills to smoothly assimilate to the country of their duty/assignment. You can jumpstart your ability to mesh with foreign cultures (and ignite a passion for learning other nations’ histories, cultures, and languages) by studying public policy abroad in college. Your ability to develop interpersonal skills, including excellent networking and relationship building tactics, will be put to the test as you navigate a foreign place. Understanding your program peers, your resident advisors, your homestay families, your professors, etc. won’t be as easy as it sounds, but diplomats must be skilled in such people skills, so you’ll be preparing for your future.

Wherever you decide to study public policy abroad, make sure you do your research! Getting the most out of your study abroad experience, or experiences, is the key to unlocking your potential in public policy (and maybe even becoming a diplomat) to better our ever-globalizing world. You might even be able to turn World Peace Day into World Peace Month if you play your cards right!