University Best Practices

Bidding Process

  • Diplomacy Lab takes a “whole-of-university” approach and recommends that Diplomacy Lab coordinators at institutions recruit “liaisons” within the various schools/colleges on campus for the communication and coordination of projects and project bids. These liaisons can assist the Diplomacy Lab coordinator in spreading the word on projects up for bidding as well as provide input during the process. Additionally, it is the role of the Diplomacy Lab Coordinator, as stated in the Diplomacy Lab MOU, to recruit faculty to guide student Diplomacy Lab teams.
  • When a university submits a bid for a particular project, it pledges to complete the project within the relevant semester or term.  Universities should not withdraw a bid after submission as it adversely affects the Department’s consideration of bids and other planning matters.
  • If a Diplomacy Lab topic seems too broad to tackle properly in one semester, universities should clarify the scope of their bid during the bidding process.  For example: If a Diplomacy Lab topic covers measures to combat violence against women throughout the world, the bidding university may submit a bid to cover a certain geographic scope and/or particular thematic measures.  (Further clarifications can also happen during initial phone calls between the professor and the State Department before the semester begins or early in the semester, but it is a good practice to clarify the scope of the projects as early as possible.)
  • Universities should seek to incorporate a multi-disciplinary approach to answering project questions.  Seek to include academic units other than colleges of arts and sciences or international relations programs in answering the questions.
  • Be mindful of the dates for circulation of project bids and circulate the bids promptly through your university vetting process to come up with bids in a timely manner.  (Your university may decide that it would be helpful to have an introductory workshop or meeting for professors and/or students to introduce them to the Diplomacy Lab program and leave time for Q&A.  The Diplomacy Lab University Coordinator would be a good person to moderate this session.)

Setting Up Diplomacy Lab in Your Curriculum

  • Professors should seek student commitment early in the semester to take on Diplomacy Lab projects.
  • Professors should develop clear expectations in terms of the respective roles of the supervising professor and the students who are working on Diplomacy Lab projects.  For example: How frequently will the professor require status updates? How frequently will the professor review drafts of work products?
  • Develop a plan as to how Diplomacy Lab fits into the individual university infrastructure.  Engage faculty, administrative staff, and any coordinator in discussions of dividing responsibilities and creating a plan as to how to implement Diplomacy Lab.  Budget concerns are helpful to address early on if necessary.

Things to be Aware of During the Semester

  • Video and teleconferences throughout the semester provide students with the opportunity to interact with State Department officials and to receive feedback.  These meetings also help clarify any questions you may have on your project and ensure that you are on the right track.  Try to set up the dates in advance to avoid scheduling conflicts.
  • If your university is handling more than one Diplomacy Lab project, please keep in mind that projects typically emanate from different offices and individuals within the State Department.  Thus, each Diplomacy Lab team at your university should schedule a separate phone call/DVC with the particular office/individuals affiliated with each project.
  • Solicit initial feedback on the direction of research from the Department of State point of contact early.
  • Faculty should anticipate potential modifications to the scope of the project, timelines, and be willing to be flexible in this regard.

Final Submission of Work Product to State Department

  • Faculty should determine early in the semester what the final product that is submitted will look like, e.g., how many pages, format, etc. If several students will be researching and submitting contributions, who will coordinate submission of a final report?  How will the various contributions be streamlined?  Will students combine the submissions or professors?
  • Have a set timeline that builds in adequate time for review and editing prior to the submission of the final product to the Department of State.