Since 1959, the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce offers a distinctive Masters of Arts program designed to prepare students academically, professionally, and personally for careers in international affairs. Formal academic coursework is combined with experiential learning via a rich variety of co-curricular activities. These include internships, a fall academic conference, negotiation and crisis simulations, site visits, a speakers program, a film series, and even a formal protocol and etiquette dinner.
Our flexible program totals 30 credit hours and can be completed in just three semesters. Each student takes a core curriculum from courses and seminars taught by regular Patterson School faculty in one of four concentrations: diplomacy; international commerce; international security and intelligence; and international organizations and development. Beyond this core, students can craft courses of study tailored to their unique needs and desires that draw widely upon other University of Kentucky graduate departments. Patterson students have developed individual degree plans that include classes in agricultural economics, anthropology, epidemiology, finance, marketing, management, foreign languages, communications, sociology, law, geography, public health, and more. This flexibility in curriculum is pivotal to the Patterson School concept. An integrated discussion of responsibility and ethics is also a key component of our professional program.
Fall conferences themes and simulation scenarios are chosen to build expertise on the most pressing foreign affairs issues and to enhance familiarity with different geographic regions. The conferences are restricted to Patterson School students and our invited guest speakers — usually 12-16 policymakers and experts from government, think tanks and NGOs, and academia. The 2013 conference centered upon Water in all its dimensions, from the environment and energy to conflict resolution and global governance. Recent fall conferences have included "Advancing Africa’s Promise" (PDF), the European Union 2020 (PDF), and, following a presentation by recent Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, developments in the "Arc of Crisis" (PDF) that stretches from Egypt to Afghanistan. Major contingents of Patterson students also attend the Middle East Institute's annual conference, and the biennial Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington, DC.
Our diplomatic negotiations exercises with the Army War College have centered on conflict in the Caucasus (specifically Nagorno-Karabakh) and the longstanding Cyprus problem. Crisis simulations have run the gamut from countering piracy off Somalia and hostage taking to probing how the Organization of American States might respond to regime change in Cuba or the US might handle the diplomatic fallout created by an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. The 2013 scenario dealt with cybersecurity.
Regardless of individual major and minor concentrations, all Patterson School students receive a general exposure to international commerce. This is accomplished not just through courses and special guest speakers, but also by periodic trips to headquarters, manufacturing, and operations centers of major multinational corporations. Entering classes often begin with visits to either Toyota's vehicle production facility (TMMK), or United Parcel Service's Worldport operation in Louisville during orientation and follow this with excursions to Three Chimneys Farm, Brown-Forman, Procter & Gamble's World Headquarters, or another nearby major company. As for government site visits, students have traveled to military facilities such as the U.S. Army’s Fort Knox or Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and to the US Department of State, or the Department of Defense. For the past several years, the School has been welcomed at the Department of Energy’s Y-12 National Security Complex and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to see firsthand efforts being made to deter the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Since 2011, all students have been able to participate in a three-day Spring Break visit to a more distant city further linking classroom study to concrete exposure to diplomacy and commerce in action. Each trip encompasses 8-12 visits to corporations, government agencies, and NGOs. Destinations have included Atlanta, Chicago, and Detroit, with related stops in Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario. Hosts have ranged from BP, Boeing, Eli Lilly, Miller Coors, US Steel, and Owens-Corning to DHS, CBP, the RCMP, and CDC. Our most recent foray was to Georgia with stops at Fort Benning, Aflac, CDC, the Carter Center, CARE, the Mexican Consulate General, AGCO and the US Department of Commerce (Atlanta Trip PDF).
Two additional central features of our program are "summer reading" and internships. New students receive their first summer reading list (a common group of 7-8 books focusing on major themes in international affairs) shortly after acceptance into the program and another list after their second semester. Our aim is to expose every student to some of the leading contemporary works in each of our concentrations, thereby supplementing their focused individual coursework with a broader academic perspective. Books on the first list are reviewed as part of new student orientation and both summers' readings are integrated into the comprehensive exam process. Most students complete substantive internships in career-related areas, in the United States or abroad, during the summer following their second semester. This provides the opportunity to meld formal studies with practical knowledge, while honing personal skills and competencies. In addition to gaining valuable work experience, many students also use their internship to acquire a firsthand understanding of another foreign culture.
All Patterson School students must successfully pass written and oral comprehensive examinations before being awarded their master's degree. These exams require students to draw upon the full measure of academic and professional activities they have experienced in the program, testing their universal foreign affairs knowledge as well as their unique specialized skills. During their final semester, most students join informal study groups to prepare for this difficult final step.
Finally, we cannot emphasize enough that the above program of graduate education is implemented in an inspiring, intimate atmosphere characterized by teamwork and collaboration. At the Patterson School, classmates are colleagues and partners, not competitors. The exceptional long–term bonds formed among students, and between students and faculty, create a powerful network that can provide a lifetime of advice, support, help, and inspiration as you advance your goals.