Since its inception in 1966 the University of Otago Foreign Policy School has developed into one of the premiere events on New Zealand's international calendar. Originally started as a workshop on foreign affairs issues, the School soon attracted the attention of New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade which recognised its value as a weekend retreat for officials. Other government officials from the Prime Minister's office and the Ministry of Defence, as well as academics, journalists, diplomats, members of the private sector and NGOs, and interested public also participate regularly. Increasingly, countries represented in New Zealand sponsor a speaker from their home country to add a truly international flavour to the School.

One of the strengths of the School is that it is a weekend residential event – limited to 180 people – rather than simply a conference. It works particularly well because it happens away from the pressure of Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, and takes place in the intimate atmosphere of Salmond College, one of the University’s halls of residence. The directors and the organising academic committee are responsible for selecting speakers and themes for each School which have included in recent years, The Ethics of Foreign Policy, Redefining the Pacific?, Human Security and Development, Sport and Foreign Policy in a Globalizing World, and in 2007, Environmental Governance and State Autonomy in a Changing Climate.

The 44th Foreign Policy School in 2009 promises to be highly stimulating, with the theme:

Dimensions of the Global Food Crisis