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 2021

    Sunday – 20 June Arrivals and Orientation/Information Session

    Module I, IV (June 21 - June 25) INTERNATIONAL LAW & HUMAN RIGHTS


    Monday – 21 June A.M. International Human Rights Law: An Introduction (Andrea Egbuna-Joss, University of Fribourg)

                                    P.M.  Workshops Intro: HR, EU, ADV (TBA, University of Fribourg)

    Tuesday – 22 June A.M. The Role of International Organizations & Global Solutions (Joanna Bourke, University of Fribourg)                                    P.M.  Workshop groups




    Wednesday – 23 June A.M. Environmental Humanities, Sustainability and Justice, (Ivo Wallimann-Helmer, University of Fribourg)

                                           P.M. (13:00) Wheels Plus Wings Foundation, Ian Stewart (Chairman/Founder of Wired Magazine)

    Thursday – 24 June     Field Trip 1 - Departure at 7:30

    Friday – 25 June           Workshop: Human Rights (TBA)




    Monday – 28 June        P.M. The World Trade Organization: A Peculiar Actor in Global Economic Governance (Sean Stacy, World Trade Institute, Berne)

    Tuesday – 29 June        A.M. The Role of a National Intellectual Property Office in an International Context (K. Houshang Pour, Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, Berne)

                                            P.M. How Foreign Aid is Used Strategically by Donor Countries (Mark Schelker, University of Fribourg)

    Wednesday – 30 June      A.M. Swiss-US Economic Relations: Challenges and Perspectives (Philippe Nell, Minister, Head of Americas Unit, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs)

                                            P.M. Local Currencies and Global Imbalances: Roots of the Current Economic Crisis (Sergio Rossi, U-Fribourg)

                                            P.M. Exam review session

    Thursday – 1 July          Mid-term Exam

    Friday – 2 July                Field Trip 2 - (Departure: 07:00 – Return: 19:00)




    Monday – 5 July             P.M. Institutional Law of the European Union (Andrea Egbuna-Joss, University of Fribourg)

    Tuesday – 6 July             A.M. + P.M. European Integration and Direct Democracy: Anti-European Movements on the Surge? (Bernhard Altermatt, Center for European Studies, University of Fribourg)

    Wednesday – 7 July       A.M. The European Union and Switzerland, (TBA)

                                             P.M. Workshop: European Union (TBA)

    Thursday – 8 July           2-days of Field Trip  (Departure: 6:00) 

    Friday – 9 July              (return to Fribourg 21:00)


    Module IV (July 12 - 16) POLICY AND ADVOCACY II


    Monday – 12 July           A.M. PEN Ukraine: Advocating Freedom of Expression (Mykola Riabchuk, Honorary President)

                                             P.M. Supplier Diversity - Diversity in the Supply Chain (Andrea Fimian, IBM Switzerland)

    Tuesday – 13 July          A.M. Fundamentals of International Diplomacy – (Fabian Grass, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs)

                                            P.M. Philosophy as a Way of Life – (Edward Swiderski, University of Fribourg)

    Wednesday – 14 July    Workshop: Advocacy (TBA, University of Fribourg)

    Thursday – 15 July        Final Exam (09:00), Farewell dinner (18:30)

    Friday – 16 July               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