Education Diplomacy: The Way Forward

By Whitehead, Diane | Childhood Education, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

Education Diplomacy: The Way Forward


Whitehead, Diane, Childhood Education


In recent years, there has been an increasing recognition of the need to find a new approach to advancing the global agenda for education. A well-defined and proactive, skills-based approach is needed in order for individuals to fully understand and engage with current and future global education challenges. What type of elements would such an approach include? What specific skills and abilities must individuals acquire to effectively participate in shaping the global education landscape?

During the search for a suitable platform, I learned about a fairly new model emanating from the health sector that uses the skills of diplomacy to improve collaboration in order to address global health challenges. Utilizing the best instruments of diplomacy to support the collective action required to advance education in the 21st century is appealing.

Diplomacy, when applied correctly, uses insight and sensitivity to find mutually acceptable solutions to a common challenge. Proficiency in diplomacy requires the application of non-confrontational skills of mediation and negotiation in order to reach common ground. Thus, diplomacy is quite complex. To achieve its purpose, diplomacy relies on the acquisition of a skill set necessary for effective international communication as well as expertise in content knowledge. Diplomacy is always an interdisciplinary venture, as it weaves together skills and knowledge from a variety of arenas. The use of diplomacy in the education sector must draw from international relations, human rights, cultural anthropology, economics, intercultural communications, international development, and international education policy.

With diplomacy as a foundation for global action, educators will be better able to understand the influences, instruments, and institutions that impact education, and to take action well-equipped with a specific skill set to effectively elevate education's global positioning. …

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