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 2022

    Saturday – July 1, 2023 Arrivals and Orientation


    Sunday – July 2, 2023

    AM: Academic Orientation and Workshop Preparations

    PM: Program Orientation 



    Monday – July 3, 2023

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

    PM:  The Role of International Organizations & Global Solutions (Joanna Bourke, University of Fribourg)


    Tuesday – July 4, 2023

    AM: The Role of the UN in Peace and Conflict (Frederick Rawski, International human rights lawyer and former Asia Pacific Director for the International Commission of Jurists)

    PM: Field Trip (Switzerland)


    Wednesday – July 5, 2023

    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 (Yaman Gürsel, University of Fribourg)


    Thursday - July 6, 2023

    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 7, 2023

    Field Trip (Switzerland)


    Module III (July 10 - 14) EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS


    Monday – July 10, 2023

    PM: Mid-term Exam (Yaman Gürsel, University of Fribourg)


    Tuesday – July 11, 2023

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

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


    Wednesday – July 12, 2023

    AM: Workshop on European Union and International Institutions (Yaman Gürsel, University of Fribourg)


    Thursday – July 13, 2023

    2-days of Field Trip

    (Departure: 6:00) 

    Friday – July 14, 2023

    (return to Fribourg 21:00)


    Module IV (July 17 - 21) POLICY AND ADVOCACY


    Monday – July 17, 2023

    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 18, 2023

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

    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 2020s, Ian Stewart (Chairman/Founder of Wired Magazine)


    Wednesday – July 19, 2023

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

    PM: Final Exam Review (Yaman Gürsel, University of Fribourg)


    Thursday – July 20, 2023

    AM: Final Exam (09:00)

    PM: Farewell dinner (18:30)


    Friday – July 21, 2023

    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