How ideas change nations - Lowenthal on political transitions

Abe Lowenthal reviewed what Thabo Mbeki, Felipe Gonzalez, and other transformative politicians told him about forming democracy.  Speaking at First Monday Forum, he discussed the book he co-authored with Sergio Bitar: Democratic Transitions: Conversations with World Leaders. "Political parties, not social media, are the best vehicle to mobilize people in politics," he asserted.

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Photo Credit - Tara Schoenborn Submit an image/video

PD commentary

Selection and commentary by PDC members and authoritative experts in the field

The Committee on Public Information: Public diplomacy? Or propaganda? Or both?

Monday, April 6th 2015

Ninety-eight years ago today the United States declared war against Germany, entering World War I.  Few recall that one of that war's offspring was what we now call public diplomacy.

Today's First Monday Forum, co-sponsored by the Council and the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, featured a panel discussion titled The Untold History of U.S. Public Diplomacy.  Two State Department historians and a scholar of public diplomacy's history joined the Council's John Brown to discuss their new archival materials and findings about the Committee on Public Information, created in World War I to influence public opinion in the United States and abroad in support of the war effort.

On the "Read More" page, you'll find an extra that we couldn't show today: a set of illustrations that tell the story of the CPI.  We hope the short collection of pictures will motivate you to read into the new volume of Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) -- the first of a new series documenting the birth and development of U.S. public diplomacy and featuring visual products as well as texts.

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Joe B. Johnson

Board member


Joe B. Johnson consults on government communication and technology after a career in the United States Foreign Service.  He is an instructor for the National Foreign Affairs Training Center, where he teaches strategic planning for public diplomacy. authors name for more info

Author: Joe Johnson


Preserving Cultural Context in a Time of Conflict

Saturday, April 4th 2015

Have you been shocked by the destruction of Assyrian monuments and other works of art in recent weeks?  You can learn more about the relationship of cultural heritage to conflict at an upcoming conference in Washington.

Together with the University of Chicago's Cultural Policy Center I’ve organized a meeting the afternoon of Friday April 17 at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art.  A panel of experts will review the situation and talk about ways to address this problem.

I hope to see members of the Council and friends there.  If you want to learn more and register, click on this link.


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Robert Albro

Board member

Robert Albro received his Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology from the University of Chicago. authors name for more info

Author: Robert Albro

The Future of News is Already Here

Thursday, April 2nd 2015

Recently the BBC, the UK’s government-supported broadcasting giant, set out to do something similar to what The New York Times did a year ago: assess how the news business was changing, where it was heading, and how well prepared they were for the future. Not surprisingly, in both cases, they found themselves at risk unless they acted quickly.

Normally this wouldn’t be headline news for public diplomacy experts. But since the BBC’s brands include the BBC World Service, a familiar name to many foreign audiences, and since the “Beeb’s” well-known stable of TV, radio, and multimedia platforms is grappling with the same challenges of breaking through today’s media clutter that diplomats and everyone else are facing, the study offered an opportunity for them to present some new ideas and new ways for national broadcasters to stand out.

Unfortunately, they fell short. 

The authors of the BBC’s Future of News study said they couldn’t predict the future, but the fact is, they don’t need to. The future is already here (it’s just not very evenly distributed, as writer William Gibson has said). The problem of simply getting noticed, much less having influence, in the cacophonous media environments around the world is already daunting, even to deep-pocketed broadcasters, and it will get harder in the future.

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David S. Jackson

David Jackson is a veteran journalist and former U.S. government official with extensive multimedia communications experience in domestic and international markets. authors name for more info

Author: David S Jackson

Quotable: Congressional Research Service on the Role of Social Media in Conflict

Friday, March 27th 2015

From a March 4, 2015, “CRS Insights” paper, “Information Warfare: The Role of Social Media in Conflict” by Catherine A. Theohary, Specialist in National Security Policy and Information Operations:


Social media is used as a tool of information warfare—a weapon of words that influences the hearts and minds of a target audience, and a weapon of mass disruption that can have effects on targets in the physical world. Low-cost, easily accessible social media tools act as a force multiplier by increasing networking and organizing capabilities. The ability to rapidly disseminate graphic images and ideas to shape the public narrative transforms social media into a strategic weapon in the hands of terrorists, insurgent groups, or governments engaged in conflict.

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One person has commented on this article so far

A Minister-Counselor in the State Department's Senior Foreign Service when he finished his federal career, Donald M. Bishop is a trainer, speaker, and mentor in Public Diplomacy and Communication. He also speaks on history and leadership. After serving as President of the Public Diplomacy Council, he now is a member of the Board of Directors. authors name for more info

Author: Donald M. Bishop

A Leader of Diplomats

Wednesday, March 18th 2015

As the Washington Post reported today, we have lost one of the greats of American diplomacy. 

Or, to paraphrase a New York Times article of a few years ago, “Not since Benjamin Franklin has an American envoy been such a capable public diplomacy officer.”

A career diplomat, Arthur A. Hartman served as President Carter’s ambassador to France and President Reagan’s ambassador to the Soviet Union.  He passed away in Washington March 16, only five days after turning 89.

While Hartman made an indelible impression on the French intelligentsia in Paris during his 1977-1981 assignment there, it was as Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1981 to 1987 that he made his major mark in his use of public diplomacy. 


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5 people have commented on this article so far

Brian E. Carlson

Board member

Summary: An experienced public diplomacy officer, Ambassador Brian Carlson advises the InterMedia research organization on military and foreign affairs issues and serves the State Department as a senior inspector. For the last three years he was the State Department liaison to the Department of Defense on strategic communication. authors name for more info

Author: Brian Carlson

The Public Diplomacy Council is a nonprofit organization committed to the academic study, professional practice, and responsible advocacy of public diplomacy. Founded in 1988, the Council serves the community of public diplomacy professionals, professors and students interested in public diplomacy.





First Monday

Nov. 2- AFSA, 2:00 pm - 1:15 pm, John Lansing, CEO of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors 

Dec. 5 - AFSA, 12:00 pm - 1:15pm, Expo Milan: U.S. Food Diplomacy in Action


Joint Event With USC

Oct. 14 - USIS, 8:30am - 1:00 pm, CPD: Global Leadership in Public Diplomacy


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