Championing World Problems for your Career

Knowing that you want to work in international relations is a good start. Knowing what exactly you want to specialise in is a greater start. Unfortunately being interested in everything isn’t possible and will waste a lot of precious time that can go towards growing a niche. Luckily, international relations has various fields of specialisation from choose from. The key to picking your niche is to truly be interested in the subject. If you find that you are torn between two to three topics to focus on, try to find common ground so that you can merge them as part of your specialism.  

Local, regional and global issues need new ideas, strategic coalitions, funding and momentum. Over time, these have become complex problems. Due to the size, scale and complexity of international relations, it is vital that you pick a niche field of interest. If you really want to make an impact in the world, you must focus on finding a permanent solution deep within that niche area. You will be surprised by what you can achieve if you don’t spread yourself too thin.  

On page 84 of the “Diplomatic Planner”, you will find a list of areas that subjects that are broken up into sub-topics to highlight the vastness of the international relations field. A downloadable copy of “Championing World Problems” can be found on the Grassroot Diplomat Online Academy.

Here is a short summary of what each subject mean in international relations. This list is not conclusive and you are urged to look into each subject area of your choice. More detailed resources about each subject area can be found on the Online Academy.  

Areas of specialisation in international relations:

●      Defence and Security
●      Human Development
●      Energy and Environment
●      Health
●      Peace and Conflict
●      Human Rights
●      Trade and Investment
●      Society and Culture
●      Global Governance
●      Politics and Strategy 


Defence and security are not exclusive to each other but requires mutual policy objectives for state-to-state cooperation. When looking at defence, this may relate to from military capability to safeguarding trade, finance, and security screening as seen in major airports. In contrast, security is a core value of human life. Everyone seeks it and it is the nation’s responsibility to provide and to protect. Key questions to security may refer to what security means and how such security is practised by a state in line with international legislations and policies.

Other areas of defence and security may include, but not limited to, the following:

●      Air force and aviation
●      Army and security forces
●      Counterterrorism
●      Geo-strategic defence
●      Global security
●      Military and defence models
●      Military strategy and tactics
●      National self-defence
●      Navy and maritime
●      Network security
●      Nuclear defence
●      Organised crime
●      Space and defence technology
●      Weapons of mass destruction 


In international relations, human development emphasises the human condition affected by issues such as food security, gender equality, education, health and employment. Often, human development is measured against economic factors. However, a deeper link between the environment, bilateral relations, freedom of choice, and governance is required to further develop the human condition when considering a more globalised approach to the subject matter.

Other areas of human development may include, but not limited to, the following:

●      Ageing
●      Biodiversity
●      Climate change
●      Disaster relief
●      Education
●      Environment
●      Employment
●      Food security
●      Foreign aid
●      Freedom of speech
●      Gender equality
●      Governance
●      Healthcare
●      Human rights
●      Law and justice
●      Macroeconomics
●      Migration
●      Poverty reduction
●      Religious freedom
●      Urbanisation
●      Water and sanitation  


Environmental issues are an important part of international relations that have led to the creation of highly-specialised multilateral institutions. The conditions of our environment has a major impact of human development, as well as our management of resource scarcity. Issues such as water diplomacy is an concerning area of interest for many countries, and continues to impact how people live in certain communities. In addition, if climate change and general global warming is not control, the ramifications will be felt by the entire population.

Other areas of energy and environment may include, but not limited to, the following:

●      Agriculture
●      Air quality
●      Animal welfare
●      Carbon tax
●      Climate adaptation
●      Desertification
●      Ecosystem
●      Endangered species
●      Energy conservation
●      Fisheries
●      Fossil fuels
●      Invasive species
●      Land management
●      Marine species
●      Nature conservation
●      Organic farming
●      Poaching
●      Pollution
●      Renewable energy
●      Tree biotechnology
●      Waste management 


No country acting alone can adequately protect the health of its citizens. Intensified by cross-border or transborder flow of goods, people and service, the spread of disease, the importation of consumer goods, and the migration of health professionals cannot be adequately controlled by states in isolation. The management of health, both at home and abroad, has a pivotal impact on a range of others issues such as foreign policy and environmental concerns, for both low and high-income countries.

A career in global health is all encompassing on its own and other areas of health may include, but not limited to, the following:

●      Abortion
●      Alcoholism
●      Animal diseases
●      Drug abuse
●      Family planning
●      Female genital mutilation
●      HIV/AIDS
●      Infection control
●      Infertility
●      Life expectancy
●      Malnutrition
●      Maternal care
●      Medical research
●      Mental health
●      Patient safety
●      Pharmaceuticals
●      Obesity
●      Oral health
●      Sanitation
●      Sexual violence
●      Tropical diseases 


Conflict is everywhere and occurs at all levels, and explores a range of broad topics both at home and abroad, and even on a personal and professional capacity. In fact, there is hardly a job where peace isn’t required and you will need the ability to see things from different perspectives to fully appreciate the complexities and come about with possible solutions. A career in peace and conflict resolution can be found in all sectors, but you will need to truly understand the political and environmental dynamics to bridge the gap between peace and conflict.

Other areas of peace and conflict may include, but not limited to, the following:

●      Apartheid
●      Child soldiers
●      Conflict prevention
●      Criminal justice
●      Democratisation
●      Displacement
●      Genocide
●      Human trafficking
●      Nation building
●      Peacekeeping
●      Political violence
●      Radicalisation
●      Refugees
●      Resource conflict
●      Social justice
●      Regime change
●      Violence against women
●      Weapons of mass destruction 


Human rights is comprised of a broad spectrum of governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations with a focus on protecting and promoting the the rights of people and alleviating human suffering. Working in this field overalps various key areas of international relations including peace and security, economics, social affairs, and developemt, which makes a career here complex and intense.

Other areas of human rights may include, but not limited to, the following:

●      Asylum seekers
●      Child labour
●      Disability
●      Discrimination
●      Domestic violence
●      Economic rights
●      Executions
●      Forced evictions
●      Forced marriages
●      Gender equality
●      Indigenous rights
●      Internal displacement
●      LGBT rights
●      Minorities
●      Racism
●      Slavery
●      Social security
●      Torture
●      Trafficking
●      Violent extremism


A career in trade and investment is more than just working in the business and finance industry. It can be about supporting local businesses and promoting the infrastructure of an entire community. Trade is a prerequisite of diplomacy, so knowing how to work in trade and open or strengthen trade routes for countries is a sure-fire way to work directly with countries at the highest level. Working in trade also means supporting a country’s trade and investment development, networking with people from all over the world, being posted overseas, and broadening public services.

Other areas of trade and investment may include, but not limited to, the following:

●      Balance of trade
●      Bilateral investment
●      Corporate social responsibility
●      European Union
●      Fair trade
●      Free trade
●      Foreign Direct Investment
●      Globalisation Import and export
●      International Monetary Fund
●      International trade
●      Localisation
●      Natural resources
●      Offshore outsourcing
●      Oil and gas
●      Trade barriers
●      Trade finance
●      World Bank 


Society and culture is a big influencer in life choices. Although these influences may change over times, making way for your own aspirations and desires, many social and cultural norms within society are difficult to overcome and change. A career that focuses on social and cultural practices is a demanding and intense career that will require patience, empathy, and a lot of research.

Other areas of society and culture may include, but not limited to, the following:

●      Capital punishment
●      Classism
●      Eating disorders
●      Equal pay
●      Euthanasia
●      Genetic engineering
●      Gun control
●      Hate crimes
●      Hazing
●      Homelessness
●      Honour killing
●      Identity theft
●      Immigration
●      Language
●      Prostitution
●      Police militarisation
●      Pornography
●      Population growth
●      Privacy
●      Sweatshops
●      Unemployment 


Global governance exists to manage complex international issues across states and borders. This multilateral approach has its challenges, as developing a global framework requires a level of cooperation from various stakeholders. As issues become more transnational by nature, the scope of work widens, working on issues as far and wide as climate change, terrorism, public health, cyberspace, and arms proliferation.  

Other areas of global governance may include, but not limited to, the following:

●      Alliances
●      Courts and tribunals
●      Crisis management
●      Cultural pluralism
●      Democracy
●      Economic cooperation
●      Global economy
●      Global ethical standards
●      International criminal law
●      International law
●      Law of armed conflict
●      Public international law
●      Sovereignty
●      Sustainability
●      Transparency
●      Treaties and agreements  


In an evolving modern society, a career on the political stage offers both challenges and diversity for those in the limelight and working behind the scenes. Political strategy in itself is all about high-raising politics but can be a ruthless industry to be in with lots of options for specialisation. 

Other areas of politic and strategy may include, but not limited to, the following:

●      Congress, parliaments, national legislations
●      Diplomacy and statecraft
●      Democratic peace
●      Elections
●      Exercise of power
●      Theory of international relations
●      Media and propaganda
●      Nationalism
●      Opinion polls
●      Patriotism
●      Political campaigning
●      Political economy
●      Political protests
●      Public law
●      State affairs
●      State security

Highlight the areas you most want to spend your workday on. Consider how to nurture this interest within a professional setting. You may wish to use the “Niche Interest Action Plan” found on page 87-89 (or downloaded from the Online Academy) to help you with this.

If you need help or guidance at any time, consider booking a private coaching session with the code COACHME for your 10% off discount for the Diplomatic Career Coaching.