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University Partners

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Diplomacy Lab
University Partners

Project Bid Process

  1. Every semester, the Department of State releases a menu of available projects for each participating university Diplomacy Lab Coordinator.
  2. Once your university’s coordinator has received this list, he/she solicits faculty for project bids.
  3. Each coordinator then compiles and submits his/her university’s bids to the Diplomacy Lab Secretariat – the University of Oklahoma at
  4. Project bid updates usually occur about three to four weeks after submission.
  5. Once a bid has been awarded, the Department of State will contact the faculty participants directly to discuss next steps.

Tips for a Successful Bid

Proposals may be a maximum of 200 words. A few notes to emphasize in your proposal:

  • Interdisciplinary projects are highly encouraged.
  • Proposals should contain information regarding how projects/courses will be conducted.
    • If a topic seems too broad to tackle properly in a semester, the project bid should clarify the scope of the proposed project.
  • Project subjects vary by semester, so if there is one closely related to an area of expertise or research interests, proposals should emphasize that.
  • Be mindful of project bid circulation dates and deadlines, circulating the bids promptly through your university vetting process. 
  • Once a project bid is submitted, the university pledges to complete the project and bids are considered final.

Incorporate Diplomacy Lab into Your Curriculum

Faculty leaders are encouraged to incorporate their Diplomacy Lab project within their curriculum as best suits their teaching needs and academic goals. Course structure varies depending on the nature of the project. Potential models include:

  • Course-Per-Topic Model: A course built around a chosen Diplomacy Lab topic, with the faculty determining whether students work collectively or in teams. The course instructor also coordinates and consolidates student work products, the final form being discussed with the relevant State Department officials before the semester begins.
  • Multi-Topic Course Model: One or more courses (whether Diplomacy-Lab-specific or pre-existing) offered in which student teams address different topics as outlined in the project announcement.
  • Independent Study Model: Credited and supervised independent study opportunities offered to small groups of students for one or more chosen projects.

Possible models for student work involve a compilation of the best portions of various projects, a class-wide revision of a chosen project, or splitting the topic into distinct pieces (i.e. country or thematic focuses) and consolidating the results into one final submission.

While the final format depends on the project’s nature and the Department of State, most Diplomacy Lab products are short policy memos with data and supporting research attached in appendices as necessary. In some cases, these may take the form of longer research papers, statistical analyses or data sets.

Things to Be Aware of During the Semester

  • Video-conferencing and/or tele-conferencing throughout the semester provides students the opportunities to interact with Department of State officials and receive feedback. These meetings help clarify questions students and faculty may have and ensure that projects are on the right track. Meetings should be set in advance to avoid scheduling conflicts.
  • If a university handles more than one Diplomacy Lab project, know that projects emanate from different Department of State offices. Therefore, each Diplomacy Lab team should schedule separate meetings with the particular individuals affiliated with each project.
  • Faculty should solicit research instruction early from Department of State points of contact.
  • Faculty should anticipate and be flexible regarding modifications to the projects and timelines.

Final Submission of Work Product to the State Department

  • Faculty and Department of State representatives should determine early in the semester what the final product will look like, e.g. number of pages, format, etc. If several students are researching and submitting contributions, who coordinates submission of a final report? How can contributions be streamlined? Do students or professors combine the submissions?
  • Adequate time for review and editing is needed prior to submitting the final product to the Department of State.
    • When a final project is submitted to the Department of State, professors should submit a copy of their final project to the Secretariat at The Secretariat will forward this information to the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships at the Department of State.

Prospective Universities

The Department of State reviews new university applicants on a rolling basis.

Who may apply? – Any accredited US higher education institute may apply. One application represents an entire university and cannot be made on behalf of a single school or college within the larger institution. One of the Diplomacy Lab Program’s goals is to encourage interdisciplinary work within higher education institutions.

Who should act as the authorizing official on the application? – The authorizing official should be at an upper-level position and be authorized to commit a university to a Diplomacy Lab partnership.

When is the Memorandum of Understanding signed? – Once a university has been selected to participate in the Diplomacy Lab program, the authorizing official will sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of State. The MOU is included in the application. *

* You do not need to sign the MOU when you apply. It is included in the application so that applicants can be familiar with its contents prior to submission of your application.

Who should be designated as the Diplomacy Lab Coordinator on the application? – The Diplomacy Lab Coordinator serves as the administrator of the Diplomacy Lab for a university and the primary point of contact in all matters, including but not limited to: corresponding with faculty and staff, corresponding with the Department of State and maintaining regular contact with all points of contact and partnership support. The Coordinator is often an administrator or faculty member at the participating university.

Apply to become a Diplomacy Lab Partner