Blake Ledna


As the international system is splintering, so too is the traditional understanding of the role of cities in foreign affairs. In the face of rapid urbanization, global political fragmentation, and shifting geopolitical spheres of influence, cities are becoming a focal point of analysis in the modern era. Traditional international relations (IR) theory has long equated states and their central governments as the main actors in diplomacy and foreign policy. However, as the role of municipal foreign policy involvement has expanded into mainstream political discourse, some scholars have modified this orthodox view of subnational entities as mere pawns in international affairs. Cities––and more importantly the urban network they have developed––are beginning to shape policy not only at the local level but also in the international arena. While this behavior on the part of cities is largely under-analyzed, misunderstood, and in many instances unwelcome by realists and national governments, this analysis will provide a description and assessment of such activities and the motivating factors of the cities that are engaging in it. It will furthermore explore the often contentious relationship between municipal governments and their growing role in the state-centric realm of diplomacy.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

International relations -- United States; Urban policy -- United States

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Seaver College


Political Science

Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Caldwell, Dan E.