Georgia Tech Students Will Participate in State Department Diplomacy Lab

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Georgia Tech students have an opportunity to shape U.S. foreign policy as the Institute becomes a partner in the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomacy Lab.

Launched by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013, the Diplomacy Lab partners with universities across the nation, enabling the State Department to broaden its research base by tapping into faculty and student innovation related to foreign policy.

“We think this is an exciting opportunity for Georgia Tech and, most importantly, our students,” said Jarrod Hayes, an associate professor in the Ivan Allen College Sam Nunn School of International Affairs who co-headed the initiative to become part of the program. 

“This is a chance for Georgia Tech to leverage its strengths in engineering, technology, and international affairs and policy to positively impact the work of the State Department and hence the lives of people worldwide,” commented Professor Jonathan Colton, of the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, a former State Department Jefferson Science Fellow and co-director of Georgia Tech’s Diplomacy Lab. “Our students will work in multidisciplinary teams on problems identified by the State Department. In addition to learning about the issues that face our diplomats, they will learn how to work with colleagues outside their majors.”

Under faculty supervision, students will analyze these problems and develop potential solutions. State Department point-of-contacts (POCs) will provide guidance during the project throughout the semester. Students will present, either virtually or in person in Washington, D.C., products for achieving the State Department's goals. During final presentations, POCs will provide feedback to students on how the project’s results were useful and preview how the results will inform the policymaking process.

Georgia Tech was among eight new partners announced by the State Department on May 5. Hayes and Colton spearheaded the application to join the Diplomacy Lab, with the support of Georgia Tech Provost Rafael Bras.

“Georgia Tech is proud to be in the company of other great universities as a partner institution to the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomacy Lab program,” Bras said. “The program is another example of the significance of public-private partnerships and the potential they have for finding solutions to some of today’s biggest challenges. Georgia Tech has some of the country’s best and brightest students, and this partnership allows them to engage in practical research, inform the policymaking process, and get extraordinary real-world perspectives.”

Faculty are currently bidding for State Department projects for the Fall 2016 semester. Typically interdisciplinary, the projects will be in classes in various units across the Institute and will be open to all students. However, the projects will be associated with specific faculty for specific classes, rather than open to students on a one-to-one basis. A website is being developed and should have more information available near the start of the semester. Interested students can talk with their professors to help create awareness of the opportunity.

July 27 Update:

These four research projects have been selected by the State Department officials:

  • Facebook in the Kingdom of Wonder: Cambodian Youth and the Power of Social Media (Ellen Zegura, Computer Science)
  • Leveraging Bitcoin Technology for Better Foreign Assistance (Neha Kumar, INTA)
  • What's Better for Global Health? Multilateral Funding or Going in Alone? (Alberto Fuentes, INTA)
  • Economic Factors of Violent Extremeism (Olga Shemyakina, ECON)



  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Daniel Singer
  • Created:05/05/2016
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016