About the Project

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Origins: The World Needs Good Trade Negotiators

Are there common characteristics of successful trade negotiators? We think so. In our experience, the best negotiators—ones who innovate and close trade deals—have honed strong interpersonal skills, demonstrate flexibility, offer creative thinking, and persist in finding mutually beneficial outcomes.

Subject matter expertise can be derived from traditional learning techniques. Developing negotiating skills, on the other hand, is usually a matter of accumulating experience at the elbow of seasoned negotiators—experiences that can be hard to come by early in a professional career.

We developed Consensus for students to experience authentic decision-making processes and hone techniques for communicating with negotiating counterparts in a structured and engaging digital environment. To bring the concept to life, professor and former trade negotiator Andrea Durkin joined forces with education communications experts at Collaborative Communications and user experience specialists at LookThink to create Consensus.


At the Table: The Project Partners

Andrea Durkin

Principal of Sparkplug LLC

Andrea founded Sparkplug, an independent consulting firm, in 2013. A former U.S. Government trade negotiator, Andrea has taught International Trade and Investment Policy since 2006 as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program and is a staunch advocate for investing in the next generation of innovative trade policy thinkers and creative negotiators. She also believes the continued success of trade policy rides on the public feeling more connected, aware, and supportive of the myriad ways trade touches their own lives and communities. She launched and serves as Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas, a website dedicated to elevating the public conversation on trade.

Content and Engagement

Collaborative Communications is a strategic consulting firm dedicated to developing collaborative solutions to education, workforce, and community challenges. Collaborative works with federal, state, and local agencies and organizations to achieve their goals through superior communications, consulting, and engagement strategies. Collaborative leads the branding, content development, communications and engagement work for Consensus.


User Experience Agency

LookThink is a Washington, DC based user experience consultancy that provides research, analysis, strategy, design, and development services to ensure clients meet their online and interactive goals. LookThink leads the design and development of the trade simulation tool. They tested the prototype with students, acted upon their feedback, and then built out a beta prototype used at Georgetown University in the spring semester 2018.


Thank you to the current and former trade officials, subject matter experts, educators, and students who have contributed to the development of Consensus.

Read about our intake process.



Student Contributors

Kevin Doyle
James Lee