The largest activity of the Public Diplomacy Council is probably one that most members don’t know about. I refer to the Citizen Diplomacy Research Group.
Formed in June, 2020 by PDC member and sociologist and nonprofit executive Paul Lachelier with assistance from the PDC’s Debbie Trent, this affinity group includes a good number of PDC members but reaches far outside the Council’s membership. The group meets every two months online via Zoom for 1.5 hours to share news and presentations on citizen diplomacy developments worldwide, and issues a newsletter to members. One of our distinguished members, Giles Scott-Smith, called the group “a vibrant, diverse crowd with very worthwhile occasional meetings.” He continued, “It has made me take a new look at some of my research and where I might want to go with it in the coming couple of years.”
At their meeting on June 8, more than 30 participants from nations including Chile, Brazil, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, USA, Liberia, Italy, Spain, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, and Australia heard two members explaining their research projects.
Here’s a confession. When I was serving at embassies I was so focused on our government-sponsored programs that I tended to ignore citizen diplomacy efforts: basic programs like Sister Cities or Rotary International that happened outside the embassy’s direct efforts.
That was a mistake. Due to growth in international trade, the spread of the internet, rising education levels, and long-term democratization, cross-national people-to-people exchanges are bound to expand in the future, becoming a more important part of public diplomacy and international affairs. Important relationships develop through these programs, and building relationships is a key component of public diplomacy.
To get smart on Citizen Diplomacy, you can join the group with a message to Paul Lachelier at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, title, organization, and email address, or you can join the CDRG on Facebook and Linkedin.
Joe B. Johnson consults on government communication and technology after a career in the United States Foreign Service and seven years in the private sector. He is an instructor for the National Foreign Affairs Training Center, where he teaches strategic planning for public diplomacy. Read More