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Why You, Your Students, or Your Kids Should Go to the Patterson School

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Chris Blattman did this for his department, the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, and it seems like a good idea.  If you’re interested in the stuff I do here at the blog (and various ancillary projects), then you might be interested in the stuff I do for a living.

The Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky is a terminal MA program specializing in foreign affairs. It has been in operation since 1959, although it changed substantially in the 1970s to focus on MA level education.  The school enrolls about 35 students a year for an 18 month program, involving ten courses.  Each student selects a major and a minor concentration, with the majors including Diplomacy, International Organization and Development, Security and Intelligence, and International Commerce. Patterson accompanies regular coursework with a range of co-curricular activities, including a fall conference, a Negotiation Simulation (prepared in cooperation with the Army War College), a Spring Crisis Simulation (prepared in cooperation between Patterson students and faculty), a spring break trip, and a variety of guest speakers and other events.

Most of our students have some background in international relations, whether through coursework in political science, history, economics, or language study, or through career experience in government, the military, or NGOs.  The curriculum includes a required course in methodology and another required course in writing and the history of diplomatic practice, but leaves the rest of the space open for electives.  While most students stay three semesters, a few decided to stay on for a fourth. Students graduate after going through a comprehensive examination process, which involves a day of writing followed by an hour-long oral defense.

After completing the program, graduates find themselves in a wide variety of places, from various parts of the “Deep State” to commercial groups, NGOs, and just about anywhere else that involves attention to foreign policy.  A not insubstantial number of graduates also end up doing primarily domestic policy work, in large part because the skills and relationships developed at Patterson tend to cross over to domestic contexts.

The Patterson School is situated on the campus of the University of Kentucky, near the center of Lexington, Kentucky.  Lexington is a city of about 300000 (metro area 500000) that punches above its weight in cultural terms because of the presences of the equestrian industry and the bourbon industry.  One of the best-educated cities in America, it’s a nice place to live for a while, whether that’s a short while or a long while.

Our faculty includes Dr. Kathleen Montgomery, an economist specializing in development work; Dr. Gregory Hall, a political scientist studying Global South relations; Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh, a trained political scientist and career US State Department diplomat; Senator Max Wise (R-KY 16), a retired intelligence professional, Ying-Juan Rogers, a Product Development Consultant for Belcan, Dr. John Charalambakis, an economist specializing in international finance, and myself. I can say on a personal level that teaching at the Patterson School has been an immensely rewarding experience.  On a daily basis I get to work on things that I love, with students who share a similar enthusiasm for the material.  My own specialty, of course, is Security and Intelligence; here are a few of the courses I’ve had the opportunity to teach over the years:

  • National Security Policy
  • Defense Statecraft
  • Wargaming and Simulation
  • Cybersecurity
  • Airpower
  • Seapower
  • Counterinsurgency
  • Dynamics of Diplomacy

The thing about all of these courses is that they’re as ridiculously fun to teach as they are to take… maybe even more so.  I once had a set of podcasts for the Defense Statecraft and National Security Policy courses, but for various unfortunate reasons they have been lost.

Now granted that the reach of LGM into the 18-24 demographic is not what we would characterize as “high.” Still, Patterson enrolls more than a few mid-career professionals who want a change, or want to add something to their portfolio. And many of you teach undergraduates, advise undergraduates, and happen to have undergraduate relatives in your families. Let them know about the Patterson School if you think they would be interested in a small, cohesive program that helps develop foreign policy practitioners.

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