The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has partnered with Europe’s leading online social learning platform, FutureLearn, to bring the art of diplomacy to a global audience.

The announcement comes amidst the commencement of ‘Learning at Work’ week (13-19 May) and the start of the second public run of the free-to-join FCO course on FutureLearn: Diplomacy in the 21st Century. Developed by the Diplomatic Academy of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the course helps learners broaden their understanding of modern diplomacy by learning from diplomats and other experts and is thought to be the first time a foreign ministry and diplomatic academy have created a massive open online course (MOOC).

Having originally co-created the course, as an associate partner, with The Open University, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has now signed as a full partner with FutureLearn to build upon the huge success of the course.

The initial invitation-only pilot last autumn attracted 800 participants including serving diplomats from over 25 Foreign Ministries around the world. It received its first public run in January and, coinciding with popular BBC documentary series ‘Inside the Foreign Office’, saw 10,000 registrations from 176 countries. Engagement with the open course has seen 132,000 ‘steps’ on the course being completed — a step consisting of course content which could be a video, article, quiz, poll, or podcast. The level of social engagement has also been impressive with learners sharing 16,000 comments.

Stephen Somerville, Managing Director, Government and Employer Partnerships, FutureLearn said:  “We are delighted to be announcing our partnership with the FCO and the success of Diplomacy in the 21st Century course. Now more than ever we see a daily need for diplomacy — both in our politics and in the geographically dispersed world of work. It is fitting then that we should be making this announcement during ‘Learning at Work’ week, and especially given this year’s theme of ‘Shaping the Future.’”

“The art of diplomacy is by its very nature a universally important subject and by communicating its lessons to our global community of learners, as well as their own invited learners, the FCO is really tapping into the benefits of the FutureLearn platform.”

Plans are in place for further FCO invitation-only courses to be launched next year on networking for diplomats and learning in a global organisation.

Jon Benjamin, Director of the Diplomatic Academy, said:  “The Foreign & Commonwealth Office is pleased to be an active partner with FutureLearn. The impressive uptake of 10,000 participants in the first public run of the Massive Open Online Course is evidence of the impact that our partnership can deliver. We look forward to a productive future.”

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