Skip to content Skip to navigation

Loughborough University London Blog

Other Blogs

Diplomacy in Practice: Diplomacy Students’ Real-World Diplomat Encounters

16 January 2024

4 mins

Diplomacy in Practice: Diplomacy Students’ Real-World Diplomat Encounters

Shradha Sharma insights:

As master’s students of diplomacy pursuing various related programs like MSc. in Diplomacy and International Governance, at the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance (IDIG), our learning experience was recently enrichened beyond the confines of the classroom, as we had the opportunity to learn about diplomacy in practice and its relevance in the digital age. We had two encounters with diplomats: a visit to FCDO (Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office) and a visit from the Brazilian Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, to the Loughborough University, London campus.

These encounters with real-life diplomats were not mere happenstance but rather carefully planned events designed to bridge the gap between theory and practice in diplomatic studies, with a special focus on the impact of digitalisation on diplomacy. These events transformed classroom discussions into tangible reality, and academic pursuits into meaningful experiences.

The experientially rich journey began with a visit to the architectural marvel of FCDO in central London. With a special pre-visit walk through the prominent monuments like Big Ben, Westminster, and Downing Street, students were given a grand sense of London’s arresting landmarks. Arriving at the FCDO, the grandeur of the building, with its rich history and significance in the world of international diplomacy, left a memorable impression on the students. The entire experience served as a reminder that diplomacy is not confined to theoretical concepts but is a dynamic and tangible force that shapes global relations.

Christopher Holtby’s Insights:

The visit to the FCDO, offered the privilege of meeting Christopher Holtby OBE, a distinguished British diplomat and civil servant. Mr. Holtby led group of IDIG students through an enlightening discussion on the Integrated Review Refresh 2023, a strategic update document on the UK 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. He specially highlighted the UK’s recent efforts to strengthen its role in the Indo-Pacific region. He shared innovative social media campaigns showcasing the UK Foreign Secretary’s visit to Japan, emphasizing the importance of strategic communication in the digital age of diplomacy. Mr. Holtby’s insights were invaluable. He emphasized the significance of sharing vital information with ally states before public announcements, emphasizing that failure to do so could be perceived as an intelligence failure. This demonstrated the meticulous nature of diplomatic work and the crucial role of foresight and planning in maintaining international relationships.

Martin Stewart’s Diplomatic wisdom:

Joining Mr. Holtby was Martin Stewart, a diplomat who had recently returned from his assignment in India, where he focused on maritime and cyber security. Mr. Stewart emphasized the importance of immersing oneself in the culture and society of the host country as a diplomat. He explained that understanding the country and its people is key to effective diplomacy, as it allows diplomats to represent their home country more authentically. He also underscored the significance of diplomats as representatives and the curiosity of people in the host country about their viewpoints. Moreover, he highlighted the importance of the diplomats’ community as a strong support network when navigating diplomatic waters in a foreign country.

A Glimpse into Brazil’s Diplomacy:

The second remarkable encounter took place at Loughborough University, London, where the institute had the honour of hosting the Brazilian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, HE Antonio Patriota. The Brazilian Ambassador presented his nation in a unique light, providing insight into Brazil’s core principles: democracy, sustainability, and peace. He shared how Brazil consistently strives to uphold these pillars, from maintaining peaceful borders with neighbouring countries to advocating for the democratization of international law. His words exemplified the role of diplomats as ambassadors of their nations, and the importance of promoting their country’s values and principles on the international stage. He did so while reflecting a candid personality, sharing his own journey into the world of diplomacy, whilst showcasing a nuanced balance of being an open minded and interactive diplomat, proudly representing his state. His visit left a lasting impression on the students.

Conclusively, the interactions with real-life diplomats have been transformative. They have allowed the students to witness the practical application of diplomatic principles and have provided invaluable insights into the art of diplomacy. From the corridors of the FCDO to the candid discussions with the Brazilian Ambassador, these encounters have expanded horizons, enriched the understanding, and ignited an interest for diplomacy.

Loughborough University London

Blogging everything that’s happening at Loughborough University London

Scroll to Top