Secretary Kerry Visits Stanford's Hacking for Diplomacy Course
Digital Archives and New Technologies, Events
By Eric Osemen Ehizokhale
“Brilliant minds are applying technology to the world’s toughest problems.”
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke highly of Stanford students in the Hacking for Diplomacy class during his recent visit to Palo Alto. Students use lean start-up methodology to tackle State Department challenges, from countering violent extremism to tackling slave labor in supply chains. What sets this class apart from most is its emphasis on customer discovery, testing prototypes quickly, and “getting out of the building.” In order to provide good solutions to various problems, teams interview 10-15 potential stakeholders each week to understand the scope of their problems and find necessary solutions.
State has shown a vested interest in this form of rapid problem solving. Sponsors from various bureaus spend time each week providing guidance to Stanford teams, and distinguished guests from State visit the class to give feedback on teams’ weekly presentations. The most high-profile recent guest, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, congratulated one team for reaching a key insight in weeks that took State significantly longer to realize. If this course continues to be successful, we may see further collaboration between leaders in government tackling important State challenges and tech leaders in Silicon Valley.