Humphrey School Hosts Training Exercise for Students to See How Diplomacy Works

November 9, 2021
Group photo of participants in an international crisis negotiation exercise at the Humphrey School
The participants in an international crisis negotiation exercise at the Humphrey School, October 2021. Photo: Humphrey School

By Mary Curtin

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs hosted its sixth iteration of the International Strategic Crisis Negotiation Exercise in late October, for students interested in foreign policy or who simply want to experience the intense role-playing and problem-solving opportunity offered by the workshop.

As a combination academic experience and engagement event, the exercise provides participants the opportunity to learn about complex multilateral negotiations and leadership in a fun and challenging environment.

The Humphrey School offers the training weekend in partnership with the Army War College (AWC), which sends a team of three officers to manage the exercise. 

The two-day simulation was an intensive role-playing exercise for the participants, who engaged in a realistic negotiation simulation to tackle a major global challenge; in this instance, tensions in the South China Sea. 

Portrait of Mary Curtin
Diplomat-in-Residence Mary Curtin

The setting of the exercise was a United Nations summit that brought together key players in the conflict. The students were divided into teams representing various countries with an interest in the conflict. 

The core phase of the exercise is a series of negotiation sessions among the various players. Each team has to determine which parties to meet with, and what strategies to pursue, to try to make progress toward resolving the conflict. 

This year’s participants included a diverse group of 45 students, and international students from nearly every continent, including three Humphrey International Fellows.  

The enrolled students came from nearly every Humphrey School degree program, and from other programs at the University of Minnesota. 

The students also greatly benefited from the knowledge and experience of external participants, including Raymond Kuo, an Asia security expert at the Rand Corporation, who led the exercise by playing the role of a UN special envoy. Another seven experts volunteered as team mentors, including former State Department and military officers, Humphrey School alumni, and for the first time, a Humphrey International Fellow, Rishfa Rasheed, a career diplomat from the Maldives, who provided a critical non-U.S. focus.

The Humphrey School’s  partnership with the Army War College provides our students with a valuable experience. It's also an opportunity for them to engage with and learn about the AWC, an important national security institution, and for the AWC to get to know our  Humphrey School community.  

Mary Curtin is the Humphrey School's diplomat-in-residence, and coordinator of the School's annual crisis negotiation exercise.