About

The Future of Diplomacy Project is dedicated to promoting the study and understanding of diplomacy, negotiation and statecraft in international politics today. The Project aims to build Harvard Kennedy School’s ability to teach in this area, to support research in modern diplomatic practice and to build public understanding of diplomacy’s indispensable role in an increasingly complex and globalized world by engaging with leading practitioners who use innovative means of conflict prevention and resolution at the negotiation table and beyond. 


Report cover page

Major Report on the Future of the U.S. Foreign Service 

The United States Foreign Service is confronting one of the most profound crises in its long and proud history. At a time of pandemic, recession, and mounting global challenges, our nation’s career diplomats find themselves without the support, funding, training, and leadership they need to represent the American people effectively overseas and in Washington, D.C.  Ambassadors Nicholas Burns, Marc Grossman, and Marcie Ries argue in this report that the United States needs a strong and high performing Foreign Service to defend our country and advance its interests in the 21st century. That is why President-elect Biden and Congress should launch a major bipartisan initiative to revive, reform, and reimagine the Foreign Service. 

Fisher Family Fellows Program

The Fisher Family Fellows program brings leading practitioners and thinkers to Harvard to consider the evolving discipline of diplomacy in the context of 21st century challenges. Fellows are in residence at Harvard for several weeks or months, during which time they conduct seminars with experts and students and engage in critical reflection on issues of their expertise with the wider Harvard community. 

Featured Research

A U.S. Diplomatic Service for the 21st Century

Ambassadors Nicholas Burns, Marc Grossman, and Marcie Ries co-authored a report, “A U.S. Diplomatic Service for the 21st Century,” published on November 17, 2020 as part of the American Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School.  These distinguished career Foreign Service Officers, shared their recommendations on how to rebuild, reform, and reimagine the U.S. Foreign Service so that America can have the strongest and most effective diplomatic service to defend our country and advance its interests. 

The U.S. Foreign Service is confronting one of the most profound crises in its long and proud history. Our nation’s career diplomats find themselves without the support, funding, training and inclusion in senior leadership positions they need to represent the American people effectively overseas, and to assist our elected leaders with policy advice and recommendations on key decisions.  There are challenges to be met inside the Foreign Service as well, including an honest self-assessment of the Service’s internal culture. Morale is low, and efforts to promote greater racial, ethnic and gender diversity have, to date, been inadequate.

Many of the most serious challenges the United States will face in 2021 and beyond will require our diplomats to take the lead.  The country deserves the strongest possible Foreign Service to deal with great power competition, coordinating globally on the pandemic, helping American companies succeed overseas during a brutal recession, mounting a major effort on climate change, negotiating an end to the Afghan and Iraq Wars, and assisting Americans citizens in every corner of the world who need the support of their government.


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