Interested in citizen diplomacy?
Due to globalization, the internet, and long-term democratization trends, citizen diplomacy is likely to grow in the future, becoming a more important part of public diplomacy and international affairs.
Citizen diplomacy entails citizen-to-citizen communication and collaboration across borders for political, economic, religious, cultural, educational, or other public purposes. Government funding and the internet are facilitating the proliferation of all kinds of citizen diplomacies, including culinary, dance, sports, business, and family diplomacy. Government funding can come with strings attached, but as I have argued elsewhere, democratizing diplomacy can be good for professional government-led diplomacy, and citizen diplomacy is essential to that democratization.
Personally, I have long been interested in citizen engagement. As an activist, political sociologist, and former academic, I have long been interested in how Americans understand and engage in political and civic life, with implications for the whole world given the U.S. government’s influence around the globe. More recently, as founder and director of Learning Life, a Washington DC-based nonprofit lab devoted to innovating education and citizen engagement outside school walls, I have been working on developing family diplomacy as a new form of citizen diplomacy for a more caring world. This work has made me yearn to connect with others interested in advancing the understanding and responsible practice of citizen diplomacy.
For the above reasons, I have initiated the formation of the Citizen Diplomacy Research Group (CDRG) as a PDC member. As a respected organization devoted to advancing the study and practice of public diplomacy, the PDC struck me as a good home for the CDRG. I am grateful to PDC President Sherry Mueller and other PDC officers and members, including Joe Johnson and Debbie Trent, for their support in establishing and growing the CDRG.
The CDRG’s inaugural meeting will occur on Tuesday, June 23, 12-1:30 pm EST, via Zoom. Click here to join the meeting via Zoom at that time. Thereafter, we will meet every two months online via Zoom for 1.5 hours to share news and presentations on citizen diplomacy research, projects, programs, theory, and practice. Anyone — including non-PDC members, current and retired foreign service officers, academics, and citizen diplomacy practitioners — can join the CDRG to learn, network, and/or present.
For any questions, or to receive e-notice of the Group’s meetings, please email me at email@example.com with your name, title, organization, and email address.
Paul Lachelier is a sociologist, and founder and director of Learning Life, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit lab devoted to innovating education and citizen engagement. Through Learning Life, Paul leads three programs: the Family Diplomacy Initiative, an International Mentoring Program, and Democracy Dinners. Before founding Learning Life in 2012, he taught at Stetson, Harvard, Tufts, and the University of Wisconsin. Paul holds a B.A. in sociology from Georgetown University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His writing, research, and programmatic work focus on the intersection of democracy, culture, and education. His writings have appeared in academic journals as well as popular media including the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Albuquerque Journal, and truthout.org. More at Paul’s Linkedin page and his website paullachelier.info.