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Ambassador Rick Barton currently teaches at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, where he serves as the co-director of Princeton’s Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiatives and Ullman Fellowships.  He has served as an American ambassador to the United Nations and the Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees at the United Nations, and he was the first Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations under former president Barack Obama.  He has led conflict management initiatives in crisis zones across the globe, in countries as diverse as Haiti, Iraq, Nigeria and Turkey. Ambassador Barton is dedicated to advancing peaceful democratic change. In business, politics and government service, he pursues this challenge by building organizations and partnerships that are: driven by mission and principles; committed to learning and mutual respect; and measured by impact. He believes leadership is most likely to be effective if there is a sincere effort to develop a common understanding of what is most important, a clear set of priority actions, an integrated team, independent measures of progress and tireless communication. Over the past twenty years, Ambassador Barton has worked in 40+ countries, engaging with local people and opportunities to catalyze progress. When you expand trust, seek innovation, and encourage ingenuity, risk taking is rewarded.


  • Why you should explore a career in International development or diplomacy or foreign affairs and what’s the difference
  • Why learning a foreign language and how to speak it well will be a big asset when you’re looking for a job
  • What majors are most useful for you to pursue if you want to build a career in these fields
  • What are the qualities you should cultivate to break into these fields (hint: be “an idealist without illusions”)
  • What does it mean to keep a “coffee list” and why that will be so helpful to you now
  • Why you should read Malcolm Gladwell’s book: Outliers: The Story of Success
  • Why you should read The Wisdom of Crowds
  • Why you should read Ambassador Barton’s book:  Peace Works: America’s Unifying Role in a Turbulent World
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