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$20M gift establishes The Grace School of Applied Diplomacy at DePaul

A $20 million gift from anonymous benefactors has established The Grace School of Applied Diplomacy at DePaul University. (DePaul University/Francis Paola Lea)
DePaul has received a $20 million gift from anonymous benefactors to establish The Grace School of Applied Diplomacy, which is designed to transform the landscape of diplomacy by empowering a diverse generation of diplomats from a wide range of professions with the education and skills needed to develop solutions to society’s most vexing challenges.

“At DePaul we ask the Vincentian question ‘What must be done?’ and The Grace School will meet that challenge head on by preparing students for a wide variety of professions that require knowledge and skills in mediation, conflict resolution and bridge building,” says A. Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D., president of DePaul. “The school touches at the heart of DePaul’s mission and its Catholic, Vincentian and urban identity by developing a curriculum that will empower diverse graduates to collaborate in pursuit of sustainable social justice at home and abroad.

The Grace School, housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, will open this fall. The gift will endow the school and provide support for faculty and students.

“This gift is truly a testament to the purposeful tenacity of our alumni, students, faculty and community partners in expanding the scope and reach of DePaul’s portfolio of distinguished academic programs,” says Dan Allen, vice president for development at DePaul. “Thanks to extraordinarily generous donors, DePaul and The Grace School of Applied Diplomacy will now be at the forefront of training the next generation of transprofessional diplomats who will pioneer new and innovative solutions to vexing challenges in Chicago and other urban centers around the world.”

Transcending the traditional approach

“Unlike traditional diplomacy programs that primarily concentrate on preparing students for a career in the foreign service, the interdisciplinary curriculum of The Grace School is designed to not only prepare students for work in the diplomatic corps, but also for applying the tools of diplomacy to careers in the private sector, the sciences, community service, the arts, religious leadership, and in the work of community organizing and activism,” says Guillermo Vásquez de Velasco, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

“Diplomacy is no longer the sole purview of government officials and mediators,” he says. “The world needs transprofessional diplomats at every level to build bridges across differences that promote isolation, segregation, extremism, radicalization, and other challenges to collective prosperity.

“The goal of The Grace School is to prepare the next generation of leaders to create human-centered solutions to problems as diverse and complex as urban poverty, sectarian violence and human migration. At the heart of this work is the ability to foster dialogue, reach common understanding and devise mutually beneficial outcomes across different sectors,” notes Vásquez de Velasco.

DePaul’s Chicago advantage

DePaul is in a position to answer this challenge, in part because of its deep relationship with the richly multi-ethnic and multilingual city of Chicago, where 36% of residents speak a language other than English. Additionally, the city is home to the Chicago Consular Corps, comprised of Consulates, Consulates General and Honorary Consulates that represent more than 80 countries.

“Chicago’s great diversity is an incredible resource and inspiration for our work,” says Vásquez de Velasco. “We know that modern challenges require approaches that span viewpoints, religious faiths, ethnic identities, disciplines and geographic boundaries. The school will link the best of the social sciences and humanities with real-world practice to amplify the efficacy of our diverse campus community. We will create new frameworks, tools and partnerships so that our students have the values, knowledge and skills to build a better world.”

For the complete press release head to DePaul Newsroom​.