RCSS’s pioneering course on ‘Creative Diplomacy’ provides a comprehensive introduction to the concept of “Creative Diplomacy.” Conducted over a 3-month period, the course attempts to provide both theoretical and practical insights into the various facets of creative diplomacy. It both expands the participants' understanding of the concept of diplomacy, and expose them to new skills and alternative perspectives to engage with stakeholders.
This course, which was initially conducted as a Certificate Course during its first cycle, during October-December 2015, has now become a fully-fledged Diploma Course (Cycle I being held during May-August 2016), and hopes to be one of RCSS’ regular academic initiatives. Perfunctory searches have noted that the Course may be one of the only courses of its kind around the world, as well as, the first of its kind in South Asia. Certainly a unique feature of this course, is that it goes beyond the realm of Public and Modern Diplomacy, though these are key modules within the course as well. While public diplomacy is more often conceptualised by Governments through public communications media and with a wide range of nongovernmental entities, the course as RCSS envisions it, focuses on expanding the notion of "diplomacy", and the way in which it is interpreted among various other professionals such as photographers, cartoonists, fashion designers etc. who in their own way need to negotiate, cooperate, and skilfully as well as sensitively work with others when expressing their ideas. Moreover, the course attempts to expand our notions of diplomacy, allowing us to realise that whether we are formally a 'traditional' diplomat or not, in our day to day life, we too carry out acts of diplomacy when engaging in people-people interactions, compromises, problem solving, and more. The course therefore encourages the individual both to visualize and question how States can use 'creative' means to expand their outreach, and effectively tackle issues areas, both with other states as well as non-state actors, as well as how we ourselves can think critically, creatively, and comprehensively when resolving conflicts. It thus, focuses not only how traditional diplomacy can incorporate "creative" tools to be more effective, but also expands on and questions what "diplomacy" is, and aims to open up the field for students in various other professional fields.
As a culmination of the three month course, participants must present and submit a joint-research project of topical interest. The research project is country/region specific and must contain some aspect of diplomacy; including relationships between state and non-state actors, negotiation, communication with groups and individuals etc. Moreover, participants must look at a problem area/crisis situation, and suggest innovation methods of overcoming it, using some of the topics covered during the course i.e. dance, photography, fashion, social media and more. Participants from diverse and various backgrounds are encouraged to work together, to further foster the concept of “creative diplomacy”.
The course is designed for diplomats, practitioners, activists, community organizers, advocates, students, academic researchers in government, non-government and higher-learning and research institutions. Public servants, military personnel, executives and professionals of all levels working in the private sector will also find the contents of this course relevant.
During the three month period, participants are exposed to between 30-40 prominent national and international experts/guest speakers who have excelled in their respective fields. Sessions ranged from Structuralism, to Dialectics, and Civilizational Discourse, as well as Diplomacy in relation to Trade, Drama, MNC’s, Food, Architecture and much more. While the majority of lecturers were Sri Lankan, guest lecturers were also invited over Skype to share their knowledge and expertise. It is envisioned that as the course continues to grow and expand its reach, individuals from across South Asia, and those interested in South Asia/the concept of Creative Diplomacy, will also become a part of the course via digital mediums and online platforms. This, RCSS envisions, will enable students, researchers and professionals, who would otherwise be unlikely to, to learn from, be exposed to, and engage with key voices and figures in the field of International Relations and other relevant disciplinary areas, from all over South Asia and beyond.