SIA to host decorated career ambassador for public lecture, Army Way College simulation

U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering
U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering Credit: Photo by the Miller Center, reposted under a Creative Commons license

UNIVERISTY PARK, Pa. -- Former U.S. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, one of the most celebrated and longest-serving American diplomats in recent history, will visit the Penn State School of International Affairs, where he will deliver a public lecture on the United States’ contentious relationship with Russia and lead the school’s annual diplomatic simulation co-hosted by the Army War College.

Pickering, who served in the U.S. Foreign Service in a globe-spanning career for more than 40 years, will deliver his public address titled “America’s Relations with Russia in the Age of Putin” from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m on Friday, Oct. 13,. in the Sutliff Auditorium of the Lewis Katz Building. This lecture is co-sponsored by the Penn State Center for Global Studies and is free and open to the public.

Pickering will bring his immense expertise to bear on this complex and highly relevant topic, having served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia from 1993 to 1996, and will discuss the intricacies and challenges of the United States’ relationship with Russia at a time when purported Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and tensions over Russia’s response to North Korean aggression are making headlines around the world.

In addition to this public address, Pickering will also lead the annual U.S. Army War College International Strategic Crisis Negotiation Exercise at the School of International Affairs on October 13 and 14. The simulation will involve teams of international affairs students representing different countries in an exercise dealing with the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus. This exercise, in addition to giving students valuable hands-on experience in the complex realm of international diplomacy, will provide the students direct access to one of the most decorated diplomats in the United States.

Pickering’s tenure as a Foreign Service officer included ambassadorships to El Salvador, India, Israel, Jordan, Nigeria, Russia, and the United Nations over the course of four decades. He also served as the undersecretary of state for political affairs from 1997 to 2000, and holds the rank career ambassador—the highest in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Pickering is also the namesake of the prestigious Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program administered by the U.S. Department of State, which supports undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing a career in the Foreign Service. Pickering’s visit coincides with the School of International Affairs’ new policy to supplement the financial support provided by the Pickering fellowship, and other prestigious international affairs fellowships for outstanding students, up to the level of full tuition and living expenses as part of the school’s commitment to preparing exceptional students of international affairs to make a positive change in the world.