The influence and impact of international outreach and the commerce that it paves the way for are evident in nearly every corner of the nation, and Alabama is no exception. In 2012 alone, foreign-controlled companies employed nearly 87,000 Alabama workers. Foreign countries—most notable of which are Japan, Germany, the U.K., and Canada—prove to be a major source of investment in the state.
But it’s not just international business that’s on the minds of Alabama’s government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and academic institutions. Alabama’s efforts toward furthering international relations are focused on the concept of world citizenship in a rapidly evolving global society. Given Alabama’s ties to the global community, issues like transnational politics, human rights and geo-economics are all of relevance to Alabama’s policymakers, humanitarian organizations, corporations, and citizens.
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The International Services Council of Alabama manages a number of programs designed to integrate Alabama with the international community. Through cultural exchange programs, the International Services Council has helped to educate foreign visitors and local residents alike on the similarities they share.
Likewise, the Alabama World Affairs Council promotes public awareness and understanding of international affairs as they relate to political, economic, cultural, and military issues.
Earning the Right Degree for a Career in International Relations
International studies encompasses international politics, economics, history, and geography to help students develop a global perspective that prepares them for careers in:
- Policy research centers
- Cultural organizations
- Professional associations
- Consulting firms
- Banking and financial institutions
- Colleges and universities
Specific career titles often associated with bachelor’s and master’s prepared international relations professionals include:
- Immigration Specialist
- Foreign Policy Advisor
- Foreign Outreach Worker
- Humanitarian Aid Program Director
- Interpreters and Translator
- NGO Managers and Director
- Security Analyst
- Grant Writer
- Diplomatic Service Officer
- Intelligence Analyst
Bachelor’s Degrees in International Relations
Bachelor’s degrees in international relations help students develop competency in various theoretical approaches in the field of international studies. They also help prepare them to analyze political, environmental and humanitarian issues in a global context.
A bachelor’s degree program offering a major in international relations my go by such names as:
- BA/BS in International Relations
- BA/BS in International Affairs
- BA/BS in International Relations and Diplomacy
Most bachelor’s programs with an international relations major allow students to choose a major so as to gain in-depth knowledge in a specific area of international relations, or in a key region of the world. Minors often include:
- Global security
- Economic development
- Globalization and social change
- Asia Studies
- Middle East Studies
- Europe Studies
Graduates of bachelor’s degrees in international relations often achieve jobs in intergovernmental organizations like the United Nations, nongovernmental organizations like Greenpeace, and in the intelligence community.
A sampling of some of the jobs graduates of bachelor’s degrees in international relations may achieve includes:
- Industry analyst
- Program compliance analyst
- Foreign direct investment research analyst
- Public relations representative
- Government affairs policy assistant director
Master’s Degrees in International Relations
Because of the complexity and interdisciplinary nature of international relations, graduate degrees are common among professionals in the field. Master’s degrees in international relations focus on a number of relevant topics, including foreign aid, economic development, and technology transfer. Many programs prepare students to move on to doctoral work in political science, environmental science, and related areas.
Master’s degrees with an international relations major may be designed as:
- Master of Arts (MA) in International Affairs
- Master of Arts (MA) in International Relations
- Master of Arts (MA) in International Economic Relations
- Master of Arts (MA) in Global Environmental Policy
- Master of Arts (MA) in International Communications
Admission into a master’s degree in international relations requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, along with a minimum GPA and GRE scores. Many students pursuing a master’s degree in international relations possess undergraduate degrees in areas like international relations, journalism, and political science, although a specific major is not usually required for admission so long as course requirements are met.
Many master’s degree programs in international relations allow students to focus their graduate course of study on a specific topic relevant to this field of study, such as:
- Political risk analysis
- Corporate social responsibility
- Global finance
- Human rights
- Security/nuclear weapons
- Trade policy
- Economic development
Many master’s degree programs in international relations culminate in a thesis or capstone experience. Graduates of these programs often achieve careers in the private, nonprofit, and governmental sectors. Some of the job titles graduates of master’s degrees in international relations hold include:
- Strategic security analyst
- Resource mobilization specialist
- Civil affairs officer
- Foreign diplomat
- Operators coordinator
- Global platform manager
- Intelligence research specialist
Alabama’s Contribution to Global Security, Development, and Humanitarian Aid
Alabama’s role in international diplomacy and cultural exchange includes programs designed to address issues related to human rights, the environment, global health, and social justice. Recent efforts led by both governmental and non-governmental agencies tell the story of how Alabama continues to focus on cultural understanding and humanitarian work:
Kosovo Youth Exchange Program and the Central America Youth Ambassadors of the International Services Council of Alabama
The International Services Council of Alabama sponsors international exchange students in partnership with local host families and high schools throughout Madison County and Alabama. Programs include the Kosovo Youth Exchange Program and the Central America Youth Ambassadors.
Alabama’s Diplomatic Corps
The Alabama Diplomatic Corps provide a host of activities and services, such as:
- Greeting international visitors at the airport
- Hosting international dignitaries for dinner in private homes
- Accompanying international visitors to their meetings in Alabama
- Meeting with international visitors to share professional expertise and experiences
The Birmingham International Center (BIC)
The BIC supports Alabama’s international business interests through networking, translation services, cultural training, and diplomatic access through a number of programs, such as:
- International Business After Hours
- Protocols in Practices seminars
- Alabama’s International Business Awards
- Business Conference Industry Specific Topic Summits
Alabama-Based Organizations Committed to International Relations
Much of the work in international relations in Alabama is devoted to humanitarian aid and philanthropic endeavors. Nonprofit organizations focused on this area of international relations include:
- Make Way Partners, Chelsea
- Health Talents International, Birmingham
- Mission Del Caribe, Deatsville
- Dig Deep Give Well Inc., Daphne
- World Affairs Council, Mobile
There are also a number of nonprofit organizations in Alabama devoted to international relations and diplomatic efforts:
Governmental agencies in Alabama help support international relations that, in turn, support international trade: