IGA-109: Great Negotiators, Effective Diplomacy, and Intractable Negotiations

Semester: Spring

Credit: 1.0


Day Time Location
First Day 1/26
Meet Day M/T 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM HLS


What can we learn from studying great negotiators and diplomats grappling with some of the world’s most challenging problems? This course explores how modern diplomacy and negotiation can effectively address seemingly “intractable” international conflicts and overcome barriers to agreement in civil wars, interstate conflicts, and in trade and finance. We will seek to develop diagnostic and prescriptive generalizations about effective negotiation and the potential and limitations of diplomacy as central policy instruments for addressing contemporary issues of war and peace.  We will pay close attention to the “how” of negotiation and diplomacy. How is diplomacy conducted at the highest levels? How can a country use negotiations and the combination of diplomacy and the threat of force effectively? How can an individual most effectively overcome daunting barriers to a desired agreement? In service of these objectives, we will draw on case studies of some of history’s greatest negotiators both in politics and business; look at in-depth, personal interviews from the instructors’ American Secretaries of State Project; and study a number of different conflicts and challenges where negotiation and diplomacy paid off and where they failed. Course readings beyond the case studies will be eclectic and interdisciplinary. We will use class debates, case studies and student presentations to help students practice the skills that are critical to success in public service and/or in the private sector.

Also offered by the Law School as 2733 and the Business School as 2218. Note: The class will be limited to 75 students with the initial expectation of equal numbers of students from the each of the Law, Kennedy, and Business Schools.




John F. Kennedy School of Government 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
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