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Ministry of Foreign Affairs offers Public Diplomacy Workshop to Masters Students

On 3 February the Institute of Security and Global Affairs in The Hague hosted an experimental workshop in collaboration with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

Students in the MSc International Relations and Diplomacy embraced the workshop as a good supplement to coursework and inspiration for their research projects. The Dutch MFA has known for some time that international students at Leiden University study what their diplomats practice. Their creative ideas and research can be an impetus for thinking about the global reputation of the Netherlands and Dutch diplomacy in general.

Pulse of the crowd

MFA head of public diplomacy, Ingrid de Beer, introduced theoretically equipped students to the challenges and lessons learned in international reputation management. Communication officer and Leiden MIRD alumna, Maxime Hovenkamp, generated interest and excitement when she interacted with students on the programme that she herself completed two years ago.  Their presentations highlighted how diplomacy changes and increasingly involves publics at home and abroad.

In order to establish stronger diplomatic ties and build reliable networks for times of prosperity and adversity, it is important for government officials to understand the societal dynamics underlying other countries’ perceptions of the Netherlands. This workshop with a group of students from all over the world demonstrated it is equally important for government to harvest ideas from the next generation and feel the pulse of global society. In this sense, the university is an independent platform outside the policy sphere that has no equivalent in terms of its dedication to the sustainable development of knowledge with implications for policy.

Students brainstorming Public Diplomacy initiatives and symbolic actions.

Young academia inspires government

This workshop with the foreign ministry is part of a broader exchange of ideas. Jan Melissen, diplomacy expert at Leiden University and editor-in-chief of The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, supervises postgraduate student research on diplomacy addressing various practice challenges. In the ‘Living Lab’ at the Schouwburgstraat, the IR and Diplomacy students brainstormed about Dutch public diplomacy initiatives for the Press Freedom Conference in the Netherlands this spring, the Tokyo Olympic Games, and the UN’s 75th anniversary. Four groups creatively explored public diplomacy strategies that included a symbolic action to be promoted by the Dutch government. Discussions were lively and everyone contributed their two cents. Short presentations concluded the workshop and provided a taste of things to come when young academia meets practice.

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