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Meet Our Newest International Development and Diplomacy Fellow  

Photo of Therese AdamBringing expert practitioners into the classroom to share their experiences and challenges from the field is an important aspect of a School of Diplomacy education. Adding practical, real-world reflections to the theories of international relations provides a comprehensive training for our students. The Sergio Vieira de Mello Endowed Visiting Chair in the Practice of Post-Conflict Diplomacy serves this role by providing public lectures, guiding students through complex research, and imparting their real-world experiences. Our newest de Mello Chair, Ambassador Therese Adam offers a diverse background in sectors inside and outside of diplomacy, contributing a valuable interdisciplinary perspective. 

Ambassador Adam comes to us from Solothurn, Switzerland. She began her career with eight years of work experience as an agricultural engineer in Switzerland and Southern Africa, utilizing her degree in agriculture and forestry sciences. In this capacity, Ambassador Adam conducted research relating to economic feasibility and project planning of agricultural crop production. During this time, she began to develop an interest in political affairs and international relations, an interest that motivated the shift in her career to the field of diplomacy.

Following her time in more scientific work, the Ambassador spent 28 years as a diplomat at the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), performing a variety of functions of diplomatic affairs and international development. As a Country Director of FDFA in Niger, she coordinated with the government and other organizations to implement Swiss development programs in the country. 

Ambassador Adam led numerous diplomatic missions with a wide range of responsibilities in more than 40 countries in Europe, Central Asia, Africa and Latin America, allying with a multitude of organs at the United Nations, as well as development banks and regional institutions. Her areas of expertise include conflict prevention, facilitation of peace processes, elimination of war legacies, and sustainable development, among others.

The Ambassador was highly impressed by the value the School places on the engagement of practitioners in the classroom. She felt that working with the School as a de Mello Chair would give her the opportunity to, "share my experiences and contribute to the School of Diplomacy and International Relations' course program with insights, analyses and concrete cases." In addition, Ambassador Adam felt that her recent work in the Swiss Foreign Service could contribute to the Diplomacy community's advocacy for the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with it being particularly relevant in the areas of intersection between peace, security, and development. 

Thus far in her time at Seton Hall, Ambassador Adam has mentored students in individual and group sessions, offering internship guidance and career advice based on her wide-ranging knowledge of the field. In addition to these one-on-one sessions, the Ambassador proctored a seminar on crisis management which included a crisis management simulation exercise, debriefing, and final evaluation. Next fall, Ambassador Adam is excited to lead more events including a public lecture on "development diplomacy" which will focus on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and other global governance agendas, as well as a more intimate talk titled, "'Gender and A Diplomatic Career," highlighting her own experiences as a woman in the foreign service. Through meetings and events, the Ambassador will continue to expand the network of opportunities for Diplomacy students, providing essential connections and skills. "It is especially rewarding," notes the Ambassador, "to interact and dialogue with students on their career plans, different practices of contemporary bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, and the impact of global developments.”

Ambassador Adam's diversity of skill and practice contributes new ideas to our conversations in and outside of the classroom. Partnerships with highly qualified practitioners continually rejuvenate our community, infusing it with new ideas, on-the-ground experience, and assorted worldviews that encourage us to challenge the known and change the future. To read more about our de Mello Chairs and other faculty practitioners, visit our faculty page. 

Categories: Nation and World

For more information, please contact:

  • Gwen DeBenedetto
  • (973) 275-2515