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Switzerland: International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy (SIT)


Todd Heidt

Director, Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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From its base in Geneva, this SIT program provides a thorough background in international studies, using an experiential case study approach. The program addresses the most contemporary international issues through classroom seminars and through lectures and briefings at international organizations, including United Nations agencies, the Red Cross, and EU institutions, among others.

Major topics of study include:

  • Roles of intergovernmental, regional, and nongovernmental organizations in building peace and helping to prevent and manage conflict
  • Links between international stability and sound economic and sustainable development
  • The evolving role of diplomacy in contemporary international relations
  • Regional and global security challenges, including geopolitics and security
  • The UN system and European Union politics
  • Economic diplomacy

You will have numerous occasions to meet leading experts working at international organizations, academic institutions and research centers. You will typically meet experts in multilateral diplomacy, conflict resolution, regional integration, development, the environment, complex emergencies, and security.

You will receive intensive instruction in French. You will have the opportunity to learn, or rapidly advance, your French through the program's intensive language instruction, which is offered at four levels based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing. Additionally, you may be able to practice your French with your homestay family and during excursions.

You will live with a Swiss or international family in a village or town near Nyon for 14 weeks during the semester. Living in the French-speaking canton of Vaud will enable you to experience Francophone culture. Exposure to the country's cultural and ethnic mosaic will help you understand the traditional values of the Swiss political system: federalism, tolerance, respect for minorities, neutrality, and direct democracy. You may choose to participate in arts groups and sports during this period, which will allow you to meet other Swiss student peers.

The program's educational excursions give you access to leading experts and decision makers in the fields of diplomacy and international negotiations, trade, law, and the evolution of institutions. You will have a chance to experience some of the most magnificent and classical cities and sites in Europe. For example, you will visit Brussels, the capital of Belgium and the European Union. Here, you will become acquainted with EU matters and structures and participate in contemporary debates on the evolution of regional integration in Europe. The city itself reflects both traditions of multicultural Belgium and the rapid growth and influence of EU organizations. After Brussels, the program stops in Paris, where you will visit important international organizations such as OECD or UNESCO. As an artistic and cultural capital and the center of Francophone identity, Paris offers a range of cultural activities and experiences.

You will spend four weeks near the end of the semester working on an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursuing original research on a topic of interest to you. The ISP is conducted in Geneva, where you can interview leading experts in fields related to your research project. The ISP provides you with practical experience for academic and professional development. It also allows you to create a solid professional network and form a concrete base for future academic and professional career choices. Sample ISP topic areas include:

  • Conflict resolution and multilateral diplomacy processes
  • New threats to global security
  • Roles of international agencies in developing countries
  • Europe and the global power shift
  • Peacebuilding and nation building
  • New approaches to security
  • Human rights and international law
  • Migrations, refugees, and internally displaced persons
  • Protection of humanitarian spaces in conflict zones
  • Humanitarian aid in complex emergencies
  • Non-state actors and international humanitarian diplomacy
  • Geopolitics of natural resources
  • Environmental diplomacy
  • Security strategies of the European Union

A diversity of students presenting many different majors study abroad on this program, which offers a particularly rich set of opportunities for future steps on one's career path, including the Peace Corps Volunteer service, graduate study, research associate positions, and internships at the United Nations.

Learn more about the Switzerland: International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy program and other SIT programs.

Credits: 4.5 for the fall or spring semester

Advisor: Professor Todd Heidt

Click here for more information about the application process, program selection, and more!

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Printed on Monday, May 23, 2022