SMU Cox Commercial Diplomacy Initiative: Toward a "Center for Commercial and Corporate Diplomacy"

by Anna Martinez|

On Tuesday, Apr. 19, SMU Cox will host U.S Representative Mike McCaul, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and retired Ambassador David C. Miller, Jr., President of the U.S. Diplomatic Studies Foundation, for a discussion about how the United States Government should better help U.S. businesses compete overseas and about the progress toward establishing the national home for the proposed “Center for Commercial and Corporate Diplomacy at SMU Cox.” The conversation will take place that day at 4:00 p.m. in the Crum Auditorium where Rep. McCaul will explain the role of commercial diplomacy and the importance of bridging gaps between Washington, D.C. and the Dallas business community.

The idea has developed over several years, sparked by a group of retired national security professionals and their concern that the U.S. Department of State needed to improve its performance and regain its leadership role in the development and execution of U.S. foreign policy ( Among other things, the report identified a need for continuing education and training.  As a result, the nonprofit U.S. Diplomatic Studies Foundation (DSF) was founded to assist in expanding the State Department’s training and education capabilities. For the past three years, DSF has been collaborating with SMU Cox Executive Education to develop a program that will combine seminar experiences and case studies on topics such as commercial diplomacy, international corporate strategy and economic statecraft. A major aspect of the program will include meetings with private sector leaders in the Dallas business community in order to enhance understanding of how America does business globally. The program has evolved from its initial concept and now will empower leaders not just from the State Department, but also from the Departments of Commerce, Defense and the Treasury, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and other U.S. government departments and agencies to become more effective advocates for U.S. economic and commercial interests. This program seeds the vision for the permanent Center for Commercial and Corporate Diplomacy that Representative McCaul and Ambassador Miller will discuss.

Dallas appeals to the Diplomatic Studies Foundation because of its concentration of corporate headquarters, the city’s overall can-do attitude, and its geographic location outside the traditional corridors of U.S. diplomatic corps training. The Cox School has been the site of two SMU-DSF Roundtables on Commercial Diplomacy in the past year, both of which gained support for a permanent center from Members of Congress and U.S. government agencies, and leadership from the Dallas-Fort Worth private sector, the City of Dallas and SMU. The dialogue at the roundtables identified several methods and practices to generate and sustain creative collaboration across the private sector, our government and academia. 

“The roundtables that SMU Cox Executive Education helped facilitate serve as the basis for further program development, with a goal of launching pilot courses that include U.S. government and corporate attendees during the second half of this year,” says the Cox School’s Associate Dean of Executive Education and Graduate Programs Shane Goodwin. “We see this as an excellent opportunity to help our country maintain economic advantages globally, which in turn contributes to national security and American prosperity. SMU Cox is perfectly positioned to become home to the Center for Commercial and Corporate Diplomacy because of our unique relationships with Dallas business leaders and our strong partnerships with DSF.”

At the April 19 event, Rep. McCaul will deliver remarks about the importance of improved education and training for U.S. government officials on the subjects of economic and commercial diplomacy, especially in the context of increased challenges from rival economic and governance models. Ambassador Miller and Representative McCaul will then engage in a fireside chat about how fostering strong relationships and honest dialogue between American business leaders and U.S. government leaders can enable a perpetual economic advantage for the United States and its businesses while preserving American principles and values. A Q&A session will follow.

The public is invited to the event, which will be held in the Crum Auditorium at the Cox School’s Collins Executive Education Center, 3150 Binkley Avenue Cox. RSVP to at least 48 hours prior to the event.