THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT DIPLOMACY MASTER TRACK AT WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY
Sustainable Development Diplomacy (SDD) is a special track within the master programs Climate Studies (MCL), Environmental Sciences (MES), Forest and Nature Conservation (MFN) and International Development Studies (MID) of Wageningen University, the Netherlands (hereafter referred to as the “SDD master programs”). SDD arrived at Wageningen University in 2009. Representatives of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs (abbreviated as EZ), the World Bank, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University (abbreviated as ‘Fletcher’ below), and of the university itself, decided to start an SDD program at WUR and agreed upon an MoU. This partnership started as an Executive Course on SDD in 2009, but evolved into a full Master Track at WUR and an international PhD Program.
The purpose of the program is to provide (future) academics, practitioners and leaders in the public, private and non-profit sectors a combination of theory and practice of international diplomacy and negotiations in the field of sustainable development, allowing them to better understand, analyze and tackle the world’s most challenging problems. Rationales for this SDD master track are (at least) threefold: academic, normative and pragmatic.
The nature of the ‘new’ diplomacy (see ‘What is SDD?’) is so far neither well understood nor are its claims rigorously tested. Therefore, academic research and teaching are badly needed (academic rationale).
Secondly, current global issues (e.g. climate change, deforestation, desertification) are challenging the world’s organizational and institutional capacity to address them. The international community has agreed, since the Rio Summit in 1992, that sustainable development should be the road to navigate humanity out of these crises. This approach, though, implies both intra- and intergenerational equity as well as the maintenance of the carrying capacity of the earth. New ways of diplomacy and new innovative governance arrangements are needed to better attain these goals. Such diplomacy and governance should, according to some scholars, be much more stakeholder-inclusive, evidence-based, cross-sectoral, and integrative rather than distributive, thus addressing the ‘real’ root causes of sustainability issues (normative rationale).
Thirdly, many alumni of Wageningen University continue their careers at international negotiation institutions, like the EU or the UN. Or they become involved – for example as mediators – in sustainability conflicts among stakeholders at local levels in Europe, Africa or Latin-America. Yet they are neither educated in knowledge and theories of negotiations and diplomacy nor trained in related skills. This master track fills this gap (pragmatic rationale).
The selection procedure for the SDD Master Track takes place at the beginning of each Academic Year in September or October. In September, an introduction presentation is given for those interested in following the track. During this presentation, prospective SDD students are provided with further information on the application process and the track itself. Current SDD students are present in this presentation to answer questions raised by interested students. After the introductory event, interested students will have enough time to prepare their application documents. New SDD students are selected on the basis of their motivation letters and an interview with the coordinator of the track. Since this application procedure might change from time to time, more detailed information will be given during the introductory presentation.
The respective study advisors of the master programs (MCL, MES, MFN, MID) provide interested students with information about the introductory presentation. Study advisors also provide details about the implications of a participation in the SDD master track on the program-specific schedule.