Survey of International Organizations (SIO)

Academic Information

The Survey of International Organizations (SIO), established in 2003, provides students with an overview of the goals, functioning and significance of key international organizations in today’s fast changing global environment. The course examines the achievements and failures of some of the world’s most important economic, political and humanitarian organizations from an interdisciplinary perspective. The SIO offers students an intellectually stimulating, innovative and diverse program of study in a safe environment, with maximum exposure to the cultural and political life of contemporary Switzerland, Europe and the world of international diplomacy.

The structure of the SIO revolves around regular coursework and relevant study visits. The interdisciplinary course is organized into modules in various areas of study including economics, political science, international relations and international law. Class meetings are held three to four days a week, with one or two days reserved for on-site visits allowing students to see the day-to-day operations and meet with senior representatives of major international organizations, such as the United Nations, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Labor Organization, the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross (all based in Geneva), as well as the E.U. Parliament, the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights in nearby Strasbourg, France.

Financial Aid: students should work with their home institution to obtain support.

  • Tentative Course Schedule Summer 2024

    Monday – July 1, 2024 Arrivals / Program Orientation / Academic Orientation


    Module I, IV (July 2 - July 3) INTERNATIONAL LAW & HUMAN RIGHTS


    Tuesday – July 2, 2024

    AM: International Human Rights Law: An Introduction (Andrea Egbuna-Joss, University of Fribourg)

    PM:  The Role of International Organizations & Global Solutions (Joanna Bourke, Geneva Academy of IHL/HR)


    Wednesday – July 3, 2024

    AM: Workshop preparations HR, EU, ADV - TBA (University of Fribourg)

    PM: (departure at 13:00) Study Visit 




    Wednesday – July 3, 2024

    AM: The World Trade Organization: A Peculiar Actor in Global Economic Governance (Sean Stacy, World Trade Institute, Berne)

    PM: The Role of a National Intellectual Property Office in an International Context (K. Houshang Pour, Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, Berne)

    PM+: Human Rights Workshop (TBA, University of Fribourg)


    Thursday - July 4, 2024

    AM: Swiss-US Economic Relations: Challenges and Perspectives (Philippe Nell, Former Minister, Head of Americas Unit, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs)

    PM: How Foreign Aid is Used Strategically by Donor Countries (Mark Schelker, University of Fribourg)


    Friday - July 5, 2024

    Field Trip (Switzerland)


    Module III (July 8 - 12) EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS


    Monday – July 8, 2024

    Field Trip (Switzerland)


    Tuesday – July 9, 2024

    AM: Institutional Law of the European Union (Evamaria Hunziker, University of Fribourg)

    PM: The European Union and Switzerland (Bernhard Altermatt, Center for European Studies)


    Wednesday – July 10, 2024

    AM: Midterm Exam

    PM: Workshop on European Union and International Institutions (TBA, University of Fribourg)


    Thursday – July 11, 2024

    2-days of Field Trip

    (Departure: 6:00) 

    Friday – July 12, 2024

    (return to Fribourg 19:00)


    Module IV (July 15 - 19) POLICY AND ADVOCACY


    Monday – July 15, 2024

    AM: Investigating War Crimes, Protecting the Victims, Helping the Refugees (Oleksandra Mathivcuk, Center for Civil Liberties)

    PM: Fundamentals of International Diplomacy (Christian Schoenenberger, Ambassador Emeritus, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs) + Iryna Venedyktova (Ambassador of Ukraine to Switzerland)


    Tuesday – July 16, 2024

    AM: Digital Propaganda & Information Warfare (Andrew Armstrong, George Mason University)

    PM: Making a Difference in Cold War II: The world is being reshaped; where do you go to try to make a positive impact in the 2020s) (Ian Stewart, Chairman Wheels Plus Wings/Founder of Wired Magazine)

    PM: Workshop: Advocacy (TBA, University of Fribourg)


    Wednesday – July 17, 2024

    AM: UNDP Sustainable Development Goals and Promotion of Human Rights: Using ‘Sports’ as a device to promote human rights (TBA, University of Fribourg)

    PM: Environmental Humanities, Sustainability and Justice (Ivo Wallimann-Helmer, University of Fribourg)


    Thursday – July 18, 2024

    AM: Final Exam Review

    PM: Final Exam


    Friday – July 19, 2024

    Independent study – deadline for term papers


  • Admission Requirements

    Admission to the SIO is open to qualified undergraduates or graduate students:

    • in good academic standing at a recognized college/university
    • fluency in English (both written and oral)
    • GPA of 3.0 or equivalent
    • valid travel documents (passport).

    Submission of all application materials online must be completed by May 15.

    Completed application forms should be submitted as early as possible to provide adequate time for consideration. It is in the best interest of the candidate to apply early as places are limited.

Click here to download procedure for admission