Selection and commentary by PDC members and authoritative experts in the field
Thursday, December 11th 2014
Katherine Brown, Executive Director of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy will discuss its Comprehensive Annual Report at our First Monday Lunch Forum on January 5.
Congress's reauthorization of the panel last year called for the review, which covers the State Department and Broadcasting Board of Governors activities.
The 250-page report lays the groundwork for rational evaluation of more than $1.2 billion spent on PD and broadcasting in Fiscal Year 2014. It gives expenditures for the largest 100 embassy programs and for individual educational exchange programs and broadcasting services -- numbers which I have not seen in this type of compilation before in the public domain. From these numbers, the report derives comparisons like cost per audience member, which brought challenging questions from attendees at today's meeting in the Hart Senate Office Building. Numbers and statistics lend themselves to diverse interpretations, as Executive Director Katherine Brown pointed out.
Nonetheless, this builds on a solid foundation for the renewed Commission, following its October report on Data-Driven Public Diplomacy which called for an emphasis on research and evaluation in public diplomacy and broadcasting. Its findings and recommendations draw on the facts presented. In other words, the Commission is following its own advice. Save the date, and plan to join the debate on January 5.
Sunday, December 7th 2014
He held senior Public Diplomacy positions in South Africa, Nigeria, and Indonesia too, but Bernard J. “Bernie” Lavin (1924-2002) would surely say his greatest contributions in the field of Public Diplomacy were in Korea. During his first tour in Seoul from 1957 to 1967, he focused on Korean education and the rising generation of students. He gave a brief account of one long-running program by the U.S. Information Service -- the introduction of democratic concepts in Korean education -- in his oral history interview with the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) in 1988.
Organizing a program with comparable impact would be unlikely today. After the Korean War, Korea was open to new social concepts, and such moments are rare in any nation’s history. Then, one officer tended the program for the better part of a decade, giving it continuity and sustained focus. Now, every Public Diplomacy officer tends many portfolios, and the pace of both media and exchanges work is relentless. No post could now spare one of its officers for such intense work with faculty, education institutes, and the Ministry. The funds available to all but the largest posts would now be insufficient for a long-term program that involved so many seminars and meetings. And few posts could now afford printing and distributing 75,000 teacher’s manuals. (An online edition would work, but it's hard to imagine that the years of meetings and seminars -- necessary in a relational society like Korea's -- could be as effective in an online format.) American Public Diplomacy has become too busy and too light for such transformational work.
Friday, November 28th 2014
Last September, Palgrave-MacMillan published “Front Line Public Diplomacy: How U.S. Embassies Communicate with Foreign Publics,” by Ambassador Bill Rugh, a Council member. The book draws on original research by Rugh’s students at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University to describe current public diplomacy practice within the United States State Department and its embassies, emphasizing field operations.
The book is based on interviews with practicing PD professionals, and the content has been reviewed by currently serving PD officers. That ensures up-to-date information about practice and organization. In the last chapter, Rugh – a former Foreign Service Officer – presents his enduring principles of effective public diplomacy practice.
Experts including Nick Cull, Tony Quainton and Betsy Whitaker have praised the book as an essential reference and guide for academics, students and practitioners. Readers can go to the publisher’s website, linked above, to find out more and to purchase copies.
Monday, November 24th 2014
Dr. Robert Albro, the Council's Vice President, has co-edited a book that offers a snapshot of both the successes and challenges of the U.S. military's ongoing efforts to enhance its cultural expertise. Check out Cultural Awareness in the Military: Developments and Implications for Future Humanitarian Cooperation edited by Dr. Albro and Bill Ivey, published by Palgrave Macmillan.
We invite other Council members who have have recently published books to write in, so we can share that information with readers.
Sunday, November 23rd 2014
Last week I attended a conference on Public Diplomacy in Busan, Korea. It gathered participants from the Korea Foundation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the American Embassy and the Korean-American Educational Commission, U.S. Forces Korea, and several leading Korean policy institutes and universities. Learning of the different and interesting ways they are engaged in Public Diplomacy made for a fascinating conference. My presentation follows.
Why Public Diplomacy?