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 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, 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.
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.
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. Recent fall conferences have concentrated on "Advancing Africa’s Promise" (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. Our 2010 Fall Conference looked ahead to the European Union 2020 (PDF), including key presentations by a former US ambassador to the EU and the new EU ambassador to the US. In 2011, we explored "Energy Futures and Geopolitics" (PDF), and in 2012 examined foreign policy challenges in South Asia (specifically India, Pakistan and Afghanistan). Our 2013 Fall Conference will focus on water.
Our negotiations simulations 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. Since 2006, major contingents of Patterson students have also attended the Middle East Institute's annual conference in Washington, DC, and more recently the biennial Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Nuclear Policy Conference.
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 Fifth-Third Bank's international trading floor, Procter & Gamble's World Headquarters, or another nearby Fortune 500 company. As for government site visits, students have traveled to military facilities such as the U.S. Army Armor Center at 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.
In 2011, we initiated a three-day Spring Break visit to a more distant city further linking classroom study to concrete exposure to diplomacy and commerce in action. Our first destination was Atlanta with stops at Volkswagen, McKee Foods, the Center for Disease Control, CNN, the Carter Center, Invesco, Delta Airlines, and a look at how DHS, ICE, CIS, and USDA manage "the border" at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Students traveled to Indiana and Chicago in 2012, visiting Eli Lilly, BP, ConAgra Foods, Boeing, the French Consulate General, MillerCoors, CME, as well as US government agencies. In 2013, Patterson Students traveled to Ohio, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario (PDF). Hosts included US Steel, Owens Corning, First Solar, the Japanese and Canadian Consulates General, US Custom and Border Protection, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the International Joint Commission.
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.