Visual imagery to highlight content on this page

Former Ambassadors to Share Experiences with Osher Students

Osher Logo

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Johns Hopkins University is offering a course this semester that will bring several former ambassadors to the Montgomery County Campus. “Global Diplomatic Hotspots,” a course spearheaded by Osher Program Coordinator Susan Howard, features former foreign service officers with extensive global experience in implementing U.S. foreign policies. Each week, a different foreign service officer will give a lecture.

Speakers include former ambassadors to Turkey, Zimbabwe, Mongolia, Sudan and Bahrain.

Thomas Switzer, director of speaker programs for the American Foreign Service Association, coordinates the course. Hopkins Happenings asked him:

Why should Osher students be interested in this course?
Students should be interested in this course because they will learn the “insider, true story” from the most experienced U.S. diplomats about how U.S. foreign policy is conceived, planned and practiced around the globe. All speakers will provide personal anecdotes from important, often crucial, diplomatic discussions, negotiations, crises and other events, as well as explain the risks and awards involved in the diplomatic career, and the great honor and satisfaction of representing our country abroad.

What do you hope students learn from the course?
We hope students will come away with a much deeper, keener appreciation of the key importance of American diplomacy in defending vital national interests in some of the most explosive and dangerous hotspots in the world. They will also learn that the U.S. military cannot go it alone in warzone areas (Iraq, Afghanistan, and others;)that diplomacy is truly “the U.S.’ first line of defense; and that every diplomatic opportunity must be attempted before resorting to military force, hopefully only as a “last resort.”)

What messages do you hope the ambassadors convey to the Osher students?
Our senior diplomats will convey the message that it’s a great honor to serve our nation as a career diplomat, service which requires great dedication, sacrifice, and intellectual curiosity in successfully analyzing, discussing with foreign leaders and achieving positive foreign policy outcomes for U.S. interests.  They will also provide valuable historical perspective on the “lessons of history” by which Americans can understand the parallels of current global challenges relative to other major challenges facing the United States in the past.

How did this course come together?

I learned about the high quality of Johns Hopkins’ adult education programs some 12 years ago when I assumed this position. I contacted JHU reps Susan Howard and Kathy Porcella and initiated program collaboration, suggesting numerous career U.S. Foreign Service Officers to speak at JHU’s several campuses in Maryland. The diplomat speaker programs proved highly interesting to JHU students, and I’m pleased to report that the scope and size of the programs have reached record numbers.  JHU reps have indicated they are most pleased with the programs involving our veteran diplomats.

Anything else?
AFSA, the sole professional association representing over 31,000 American Foreign Service personnel from five federal agencies (the Departments of State, Commerce, Agriculture, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Voice of America), cherishes this important educational partnership with the ever- improving and expanding programs sponsored by Johns Hopkins. We eagerly look forward to continuing this excellent partnership.


CATEGORY: Academics, In The Community