APDS was honored to be invited to attend “Forecast Asia: China’s Ambition Grows as the Global Economy Slows” forum organized by Asia Society Southern California on February 4, 2015. The forum brought together experts on China’s economic development from the fields of politics, business and scholarship, with the focus on forecasting China’s growth performance in the background of the big-scale market economy reform. Read more…
The USC Master of Public Diplomacy 2015 international research group will be heading to Indonesia at the beginning of March, and we welcome you to join our journey by connecting with us through our website: www.pdindonesia.com
Please feel free to follow our blog, connect with our team members on social media, our group Twitter account @uscmpd, and our gastrodiplomacy account on Instagram @gastrompd.
We look forward to our upcoming public diplomacy research plans and hope to make USC, Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism, the Center on Public Diplomacy, and the Master of Public Diplomacy community proud!
Check out the blog done by the Class of 2016 Master of Public Diplomacy students during their trip to Washington D.C!
Join us as we present Harmony or Discord: Exploring the Impact of Music Diplomacy:
An interactive day of voices, instruments and dance, this event will explore real-world examples of how music can enhance an international actor’s efforts to engage with foreign publics, will question assumptions about the power of music, and will examine the effectiveness of this art form in international affairs, global development, and social justice efforts.
Advancing Foreign Policy with PD, United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy
On Jan 30th, MPD representative group held a meeting with Katherine Brown, the Executive Director of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (ACPD), in the USC Washington DC Office.
United States ACPD is a body authorized by Congress to oversee and promote U.S. Government activities that intend to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics. It was authorized in January 2013 to complete the 2014 Comprehensive Annual Report on Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting, which aims to support effective public diplomacy.
Katherine talked about the biggest change in practice of Public Diplomacy inside the government, which is the change of its definition. In the past, US PD focuses in long-term relationship development with foreign audience, which involves academic exchange, basic media engagement, education and cultural exchanges. Right now, PD is defined as primarily supporting and advocating US foreign policy. It’s not only about influence foreign audience, but specifically to inform and advance US foreign policy. The government is investing more in short-term programs, hoping to see quicker response from the PD work. When MPD students asked about the benefits of long-term program such as Fulbright program, Katherine responded that the existing programs will still be in place, and the long-term goal is still necessary, but they are trying to strike a balance between the long-term and short-term program and to reallocate resources more efficiently.
The second change noted by Katherine is government’s increasing attention to evaluating the PD program, an important part that has long been underinvested in many PD sectors. There’s a higher focus on collecting data across the bureaucracy to create and evaluate campaign. But it’s also the most challenging part. During the analysis of the commission’s report, Katherine began by reaching out to foreign officers who really want to improve the PD work and structure, who were willing to breakdown their budget and discuss the lesson learnt from campaigns. Katherine says that without data proof, PD work would largely be faith-based.
There are clearly many challenges for evaluating the PD campaign. Firstly, audience research on the frontline is highly needed. No one is actually doing this. The same goes to the lack of comparative data. There’s nothing set up to understand what other programs, other countries are doing. And there’s also no goals setup at the beginning, which is important for institutes to admit the setback and fix the problems. In order to fix problems like this, a director of research will be appointed in the next fiscal year to better allocate the fund and give advise to campaigns.
Katherine also gave advise to MPD students on skills to learn. Skills related to analysis and evaluation are highly recommended, such as quantitative polls, anthropology issue, and understanding social media analytic. Other related expertise, such as production skills, editing skills, expertise on the region, expertise on foreign policy issue, understanding the audience are also a plus. She also expressed her view in corporate social responsibility. Although global company’s CSR work would to some extent enhance US’s positive image in foreign country, Katherine thinks that CSR is not part of PD as PD is currently defined as advocating US foreign policy.
Digital Diplomacy and Communications, USC Center on Public Diplomacy
The USC DC office is our last stop in the MPD DC trip. The sense of belonging stormed me when my phone automatically connected to the USC wireless WIFI in the office. Adam Clayton Powell III is the speaker of this meeting. He is the Director of Washington Policy Initiatives for the University of Southern California and University Fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy.
When we were waiting for the group that went to the CIA, Powell introduced us to the USC Center on Public Diplomacy and explained the founding process of the center. “We can’t say we had brilliant planning. No, it was an accident.”
In 2003, Geoff Cowan, then the USC Annenberg Dean, started CPD. He saw Powell in the hallway and told him about it his idea. “I said, um, we’re in Los Angeles, not Washington… As it turns out, Geoff was right!” And within 30 days, the center started to hear from the State Department in Washington, and to here from foreign governments. All asking how can they send people in and get involved. “He then asked me to teach the first course (which I did), on International Broadcasting.” Soon after that they discovered that there is no one better place than the University of Southern California to save public diplomacy in the United States.
“This is not the center on US public diplomacy. This is the center on global public diplomacy. So we have a different focus.”
One example of USC public diplomacy is the cellphone initiative. “It is striking to see the growth of cellphone-enabled communications. In many Asian and African cities, people can listen to their radio on their cell phone.” This has opened a stream of new public diplomacy initiatives and a way for VOA and other international broadcasters to reach audiences in the third world.
“For the first time now, people in the United States are able to listen to radio in the cellphones the way people do in the rest of the world.” While before that, experts were surprised to know that Americans couldn’t receive broadcast radio on cell phones.
Powell also introduced us an app called NextRadio, which is free to unlock the FM receiver, enabling the phone to receive all local FM radio stations without using the cell phone network, so there are no data charges or other costs. What’s more, the app also launches TagStation, an interactive display showing all of the programming on local stations it can receive, including information on performing artists’ upcoming appearances in that local area. That’s amazing! No matter where you are from and what works you do, you can receive the latest information about America with this app. It’s also a good medium, from the aspect of Public Diplomacy, for the communications between Americans and foreigners. And the most important is what being spread are the messages on what Americans do, what they think and how they live, all of which contain the American value.
Even though the app only works on Android cell phones, and not yet on all Android phones, it is on all major US cell phone networks. According to Powell, we know that Emmis, along with NPR and other public broadcasters had long favored unlocking the FM receivers, but Apple and most US mobile phone carriers refused with no explanation.
Powell also told us that the free app was discussed at a CCLP and Sunnylands Forum on improving cell phones as platforms for public safety and emergency preparedness for domestics and internationals.
What we also discover in being here is how many resources are opening to USC. We have a 30 minutes presentation on something that is critical in the first Monday in each month. We have walk-ins every month from assistant secretary of State, VOA.
Recruitment, Central Intelligence Agency
The CIA Headquarters- located in the suburbs of Langley, VA, just outside of DC, desolate with heavily armed officers pacing the entrance. This visit was exactly what we all expected it to be in, in addition to the strict and detailed instructions that were provided to reach our destination before meeting our contact.
After going through heavy security and being shuttled from our entrance to the main grounds, we finally met with our CIA representatives who were recruiters with the organization. Despite the stern experience of just getting through the entrance, our time with the recruiters was actually quite friendly. One of the recruiters even happened to be a fellow California native from Pasadena so it was nice to relate to another person on the unnatural cold the rest of us were experiencing.
We were offered a tour, which included the CIA Museum. The exhibition ranged from Bin Laden’s assault rifle confiscated during his raid to the ultimate collection of spy gears (think 007’s functioning mini-camera in the form of an artificial olive in his martini glass, but in real life). Aside from this extremely interesting collection in the CIA Museum, what was most appreciated on this visit was the remaining half of our time there, which consisted of a detailed employment opportunity presentation.
The recruiters promoted their various student internship programs and fellowships to highlight how individuals specializing in various fields can find their place within the CIA. Learning about the greater details of the screening process was particularly interesting in hearing all details of an individual’s background they take into account (Note: screening for interns are just as thorough as screening for analysts, so prepare yourself to apply a year in advance).
If you’d like to learn more details about student opportunities within the CIA or just any other details about the organization, check out their website.
A Full Day at State, U.S. Department of State
With the help of a special assistant to Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel, the USC Masters in Public Diplomacy was able to meet a myriad of high-level public diplomats at the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, the Bureau of International Information Programs, and the Bureau of Public Affairs.
For students studying public diplomacy, the U.S. Department of State is one of many career aspirations and a litmus test for how traditional diplomacy incorporates aspects of technology and social media. During our visit, we learned three over-arching lessons and themes: shared value and interests, program evaluation, and technological adaptability.
The most salient topic during our meetings was the importance of engagement with the United States on various platforms, such as cultural and education. Exchanges provide a way to highlight some of the most successful public diplomacy initiatives. Those more traditional forms of public diplomacy seek to support foreign policy initiatives through multi-platform engagement. The Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) integrates more innovative ways to address “engagement” through American Corners in physical and virtual spaces around the world. We got the sense that engagement does not necessarily mean explaining foreign policy, but having a presence in places. An American presence consists of more than government offices. It requires partnerships that enable a greater range of programs and representations. State representatives highlighted shared values in corporate social responsibility with several businesses including, Chevron and Microsoft. Understanding the not only the benefits available with public-private partnerships but the possible downfalls were of major concern. Similarly, IIP noted that while utilization of technology and new media in conjunction with face-to-face engagement.
These messages were echoed throughout the visit was consisted: public diplomacy supports foreign policy. This shift from simply explaining what US foreign policy means toward explanation through action was very evident with the press briefing we were able to attend. State Department Spokeswoman, Jennifer Psaki demonstrated how traditional tools could still be the most effective. Consistently explaining and supporting current US foreign policy, Psaki used the platform to clarify and support initiatives and actions to further policy goals.
During out time with various State Department officials, the most consistent concern lied within evaluating public diplomacy programs. Despite a clear overarching objective for all programs, the greatest challenge is in quantifying success quickly in a clear manner. This concern remains one of the greatest challenges for both practitioners and academics. How can public diplomacy programs be evaluated with short, mid, and long-term goals to accurately and effectively demonstrate their impacts and importance? Although new mediums of communication and the emergence of new platforms of engagement this struggle remains constant. At the State Department the need to justify all programs in a measureable and significantly impactful way may be hindering future growth of great programs. However, evaluation seems to be a challenge through out the practice of public diplomacy. Those practitioners we met at the State Department did demonstrate that traditional tools of public diplomacy are still very effective, especially when used in conjunction with emerging technologies; we also learned the importance of continuing to improve and develop individualized and detailed evaluation metrics.
‘Content & Creative’ New Opportunities for Advocacy and Action, USAID
Stephanie Bluma barely had her desk set up in her new position at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) when the Ebola virus struck West Africa, devastating a priority region for the agency’s work in poverty reduction and global development.
As the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, Bluma helps the agency to craft domestic and international outreach programs, which include ongoing public information efforts on Ebola.
Public diplomacy of this kind has an essential role to play in addressing the challenges created by the Ebola outbreak. While concern over the virus has largely subsided in the United States, Bluma points out that the greatest difficulties come only after the virus has struck.
“All the schools in West Africa have been closed for six months,” she explains. “And people are afraid to go back.”
Fear of contracting the virus is also deterring pregnant mothers from seeking medical care, threatening to roll back the progress made in reducing maternal mortality in the region over the past two decades.
In tackling these issues and her new position at USAID, Bluma has drawn on her experience as a former creative director for an advertising agency to encourage her colleagues to think proactively about branding, audience engagement and forging common interest with potential project partners.
She’s not alone in thinking this way. USAID recently completed an organizational restructure, adding a new key focus area called “Content & Creative.” Our meeting with Bluma becomes energized very fast as we realize that we share a way of thinking, a strategic toolkit, a vocabulary. We bombard her with questions and she invites us to offer our own ideas on the agency’s important work.
Maybe it should have been obvious, but to a cohort of young people who may or may not be drowning in student loans, our time in Washington, D.C. has been an exciting reminder of the growing relevance of public diplomacy, and by extension our expensive degree. Public diplomacy has a future here, and there are real opportunities to define and develop its practice in fields as diverse as the disparate interests we have each brought to the program.
USAID’S message manual, which Bluma shared with us at the end of our meeting, opens with a quote by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Don’t get so caught up in doing the work, and believing how important the work is, and what a difference it will make, and neglect telling the story of the work. And why you’re doing it. And why you think everybody who know about it should understand and support it.”
Advocacy organizations that rely on personal narratives to pull at the heartstrings of potential donors have long acknowledged the importance of storytelling in their work.
Now, international agencies of all shades are advancing the idea that storytelling’s importance lies not only in selling their work to the masses, but the essential role it plays in the impact and longevity of the work itself. Regardless of whether its end goal is communicative in nature, every program sends a message. And in the uniquely challenging arena of global development, the successful relay of a message is itself a benefit for communities that remain largely cut off from the resources global communication can bring.
Practicing PD in the Humanitarian Field, International Office of Migration
Nobody would have expected that a low profile international organization with a big heart in humanity was a petri dish for public diplomacy (PD) initiatives. International Organization for Migration (IOM) is involved in PD activities related to growing migrant issues. Two key factors of its PD are: advocacy of the issues through traditional and social media, and creation of sustainable projects by public-private partnership framework.
Those ideas come to the fore in the discussion between 19 first-year graduate students in Master of PD program at USC Annenberg with IOM on January 28, 2015. The discussion was opened with a brief introduction about the IOM establishment against the backdrop of post World War II. IOM now has more than 2,600 active projects in 157 countries to deal with issues about the growing number of migrants that reaches 1 billion (15% of world population). The factors behind the migration are, as explained, aging populations in developed countries, labour shortages in developed countries, economic disparity, disasters, and digital revolution, among others. Its exparties are getting infromation about migration issues from communities and finding out where migrants are and what they need and directing groups of humanitarian organizations. In addition, conducting its business with a majority funding of the government of the United States of America, IOM involves Ambassador Laura Thompson as Deputy Director General of IOM Council in Geneva. Not only across gender, IOM also includes women from the periphery countries.
IOM launched a social media campaign called “Migration means” to highlight stories of migration to give a voice to migrants from all around the world in 2014. It invites people to share a photo that describes what migration means to them on Twitter (http://weblog.iom.int/migrationmeans). IOM doesn’t appear in traditional media very often, but it can increase media appearance to make an appeal of necessity in aid and support for migrants to general public via TV in light of its experty of gathering detail infromation about migrants and their needs. As well as raising awareness of the issue, IOM is pursuing engagement with private companies, foundations and individuals in the field of humanitarian emergency and movement of people so that its project can be more sustainable and also can send a stronger message in collaboration with them.
IOM indeed requires more PD activities in their projects and deliverables. The reasons are: FIRST, it deals with cross-cutting activities and diverse sub-issues. SECOND, the varieties of program areas that touched on the issues of diaspora, brain drain and gain that fall under migration and development. THIRD, the diversity of IOM’s partners. IOM connects the partner from public and private sectors, United Nations and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and United States Association for International Migration (USAIM), to mention a few. PD in a network society could lessen the complexity of its work and make it work efficaciously by engaging more partners in two way communication method.
Global Media & Nation Branding, Foreign Policy Magazine
Foreign Policy magazine (FP) is a news publication that addresses global affairs, current events, and domestic and international policy. It is headquartered in Washington D.C. and, as part of our efforts to engage with practitioners of Public Diplomacy, we had the privilege of meeting with Senior Vice President Amer Yaqub and Vice President Emily Simon. Yaqub works with companies and governments worldwide on industry-leading business partnerships and has more than 15 years of experience in international marketing and media. Simon works with foreign governments and global companies to develop and execute strategic marketing campaigns.
Prior to the meeting, we had expected to be briefed about print media, how
they choose which stories to publish and how they compile their monthly issues. However, we were pleasantly surprised to discover another aspect of Foreign Policy magazine that is little known: Nation Branding. This business side of the publication assists sovereign clients in communicating their message to FP readers, meaning that they help countries build their reputation and create engaging conversations in a measurable, effective, and replicable way.
When it comes to thinking about the target clients, we learned that countries can be in two opposite ends of a spectrum, that is they can have either no problems or too many problems. These two situations hinder effective nation branding efforts, which is why FP activities focus on those countries that are centered.
This is why, the first challenge is to effectively explain to these countries that it’s essential for them to meet the need of branding themselves as a nation in a certain desirable way, and help them understand why this matters. Once that obstacle is overcome, the second major challenge comes to the fore: budget. This relates to the simple question of who is going to be responsible for the cost of the activities and for their promotion. This is a key concern for FP since they operate with clear and precise allocation of resources, which include not only assisting in the decision of what course of action to pursue, but also how to effectively allocate their resources to meet the target goals and evaluating the activities’ overall impact.
One of the cases that was set forth as an example of the nation branding consulting FP does is that of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This particular effort is based on events and specific activities, and seeks to position the UAE not as a destination for foreign investment but as a thought leader. Therefore, through one of the most forward looking efforts in nation branding, the UAE Embassy in the US supports the “Peace Game” initiatives conducted twice a year, once in United States and once in the Middle East.
“Peace Game” brings together the leading minds in national security policy, international affairs, academia, business, and media to “game” out how peace can be achieved. The ultimate goal of these activities is to redefine how leaders think about conflict resolution and the possibility of peace. As we can appreciate, UAE support and involvement in this initiative helps brand it as a source of creative dialogue.
As was briefly mentioned before, it was very refreshing for us to discover that a media company such as FP magazine actually conducts these nation-branding activities. Their added value stems precisely from their wide and sophisticated readership, reputation, and objectivity.
Tracking Public Opinion, Pew Research Center
On our second day of our trip in Washington DC, we had the opportunity to visit Pew Research Center and speak with Director Richard Wike. Wike and his staff at Pew Research Center poll countries across the world and reveal their sentiments on a variety of global issues including religion, politics, and economics. In his presentation, Wike shared Pew polls with the class showing prevailing attitudes towards the rise of China and U.S. foreign policy.
During his presentation, Wike revealed the shift in perceptions of the United States’ dominance over the past decade. In 2008, Pew polled twenty countries and found that almost 50 percent of respondents viewed the United States’ as the world’s leading economy. China’s ascendancy, though, has altered these sentiments significantly. Pew polled the same twenty countries in 2014 and revealed that only 40 percent of respondents perceived the United States as the world’s preeminent economy while 31 percent believed it was China—up from 19 percent in 2008.
Although the United States remains the world’s largest economy, China’s economy has been growing considerably over the past three decades. Respondents believed that China’s economy could eventually pose as a legitimate threat to the United States. In the same Pew poll taken in 2008, 41 percent of respondents thought China superseded the United States as the next superpower. In 2014, however, that number increased to 50 percent.
China’s increasing influence has sparked some trepidation among neighboring countries. A number of neighboring countries believe that grave problems will ensue if China becomes a hegemonic power. “More than seven-in-ten in the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and India, for example, firmly believed that the territorial disputes with China would eventually lead to a military conflict” (Pew Research Center). Two-thirds of Americans and Chinese also agreed of the likelihood that a country in Southeast Asia would enmesh in a major conflict with China in the foreseeable future.
Despite China’s ascendancy, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America still viewed the United States more positively than China. Although U.S. popularity declined compared to past Pew polls conducted, almost two-thirds of respondents in Europe, Asia, and Latin America view the United States positively. 61 percent viewed China positively in Asia while only 48 percent did in Latin America and 39 percent in Europe. In Africa, strikingly, almost three quarters of respondents viewed the United States and Africa positively—74 and 70 percent respectively (Pew Research Center).
On the Middle East, however, the views of China and the United States were reversed. While less than a third of the respondents viewed the United States positively, almost 50 percent expressed a favorable view of China.
Wike also displayed graphs revealing public opinions on U.S. foreign policy including the usage of drone strikes and spying on citizens. On drone strikes, most foreign respondents—especially in Venezuela, Jordan, and Greece—strongly opposed the U.S. drone policy. Over 50 percent of respondents in Israel and the United States, however, favored the drone policy, believing drone strikes effectively target and kill violent extremists.
In addition, Edward Snowden—the former National Security Administration (NSA) contractor “who revealed the U.S. government’s capacity to intercept communications around the world”— caused many countries to lose faith of the United States respecting the freedoms of its people (Pew Research Center). The decline from 2013 to 2014 was most prominent in El Salvador, Brazil, Pakistan, Argentina and Germany, where the drop was over 20 percent.
81 percent of countries also opposed the U.S. surveillance policies as a means to defeat terrorism and 73 percent believed it was unacceptable for the United States to monitor their leaders as well. 64 percent of respondents, however, believed that the United States should heavily track terrorist suspects. Crafting an effective policy to monitor potential terrorists, though, continues to be a challenging and contentious issue.
As Public Diplomacy students, it would be irresponsible to ignore these Pew results. Drone strikes and U.S. surveillance has diminished U.S. popularity. To obstinately continue in pursing these unpopular strategies will only instill further animosity against the U.S., undermining their image abroad. Listening, a characteristic in public diplomacy, is imperative if we want to bolster the United States’ image—particularly in the Middle East. We must cooperate with foreign publics—and actually listen to them—on crafting an ideal policy that can vanquish terrorism without jeopardizing our credibility abroad.
“Global Opposition to U.S. Surveillance and Drones, but Limited Harm to America’s Image.” Pew Research Centers Global Attitudes Project RSS. N.p., 14 July 2014. Web. 31 Jan. 2015. <http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/07/14/global-opposition-to-u-s-surveillance-and- drones-but-limited-harm-to-americas-image/>.
Defining Public Diplomacy, The British Council
This past week, our master’s class was invited to a series of meetings in Washington DC. Officially, we were there to see how public diplomacy works at an institutional level; unofficially we wanted to see how we might or might not fit into the picture. We were particularly interested to learn what Public Diplomacy meant to and how it was practiced by each of our host organizations. In a city that is already ideologically difficult to comprehend, it was no surprise that even the definition of Public Diplomacy itself is open to debate. Over the course of the week, we were exposed to a variety of definitions of the term; these ranged from an emphasis on long-term relationship building and trust, to one of being a tool only in support of promoting America’s foreign policy agenda. The debate did not end in those meetings, but was continued back at the house where all 17 of us were staying.
Throughout the week, many of our discussions re-examined the perspectives we had heard from experts at the British Council, the State Department and the Public Diplomacy Advisory Commission. The American emphasis fell strongly on using Public Diplomacy in direct service to the policy goals set by the US Government (USG), connecting out into the world to further what the United States feels is in its best interest. For many of us, however, it was the meeting with Paul Smith at the British Council that framed our field in a way that best matched the goals we hope to aim for in future. His perspective emphasized the value of building trust between peoples over time to create a basis for meaningful engagement. In fact, his preferred terminology did not even include the words “Public” or “Diplomacy,” but rather, was defined as “Cultural Relations,” because it is through listening to the publics and connecting with their cultures that a foundation can become strengthened enough to withstand the ebb and flow of politics.
Smith likened Cultural Relations to an ocean’s movement: pushed and pulled by the winds of change, and yet held firm by the currents below. We recognized that while we may be naïve and overly optimistic about how the world works, it was reassuring to learn that Smith still held these beliefs even after several decades of field experience. In fact, he cited a powerful example of his time in Afghanistan when his post was firebombed—he was away at the time—resulting in the death of 17 staff. This was the worst attack on the British Council (BC) in its history; yet rather than closing its doors on Afghanistan, the BC remained. Within days of the attack, Smith received hundreds of letters from Afghan youth pleading that he and his staff continue their educational programming in the region. Smith came to realize the significant role the BC had come to play in the region, observing that the attack was a reaction to both the Council’s successful integration into the community and the threat that this posed to those who wished to maintain a full control over the area. This story illustrates the power of cultural diplomacy to surmount such profound violence.
It is important to note that although the BC works in tandem with the British Government it acts independently, allowing it to be apolitical. This unique structure enables the Council to interact with peoples of all different faiths, cultures and backgrounds in benign and meaningful ways. As we would discover in meetings later in the week, possibly in part because of this separation, this approach varied greatly from its American counterpart. In our meeting with the US State Department and the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy our hosts emphasized the role of Public Diplomacy as a direct tool to implement foreign policy as determined by government. Katherine Brown, the executive director of the Commission, described the priorities of the USG as follows: to inform, influence and engage international audiences, with the express intent to further American policy goals. She further stated, emphatically, that non-state actors do not perform public diplomacy, rather they conduct public affairs. This may have been the most divisive statement made, from our group’s point of view. Although this caused some dismay, we appreciated her candor, and recognized the honest appraisal of the US Government’s approach to Public Diplomacy.
While this last week has offered us some deeper insight into the amorphous world we have chosen to enter, it probably raised more questions than it answered. Still, it was a great trip and the value of the experience lay partly in the fact that the trip itself was a kind of Public Diplomacy exchange, sharing a home and the exploration of ideas, camaraderie, snow and beer with our cohort of domestic and international classmates. That kind of relationship building can last a very long time.
Walking through the White House, U.S. Global Engagement Office
Our first meeting of the week was on Monday January 26, 2015 with two amazing speakers Brett from the U.S Department of State and Laura from USAID in the White House. Just being allowed into the White House made my day, but hearing what they had to say about Public Diplomacy with the vigor and success they were having made my entire week. Brett and Laura presented to us the strategy/current agenda for the Global Engagement Office (GEO). The GEO is an inter-agency Public Diplomacy office under the White House that seeks to engage the wider global audience.
The program that stuck out to me the most was the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that was enacted by president Barack Obama in 2010. YALI is a program aimed at educating and networking young African leaders with activities including a fellowship to study in the United States for six-weeks. Brett said the program was so successful in 2010 that in 2014 the program was expanded to include the creation of four regional “leadership centers” with locations in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa. While talking about the four regional leadership centers the speakers mentioned the necessity for public-private sector partnerships to fund these new buildings. One of the main backers of the program was Microsoft, which through government outreach was made aware of the plan and monetarily backed it. It is well known that Africa will be one of the biggest emerging markets in the next decade so the company backing made financial sense it was really good to see private companies funding exchange programs that would increase the overall reputation of the United States.
One of the other goals that Laura mentioned was the need to spark entrepreneurship programs. By 2017 the Global Engagement Office seeks to provide one billion dollars worth of funding to this initiative. As a Public Diplomacy student I find this initiative extremely important, entrepreneurship opportunities allow for diplomacy to occur throughout the world through a relatively safe medium. Creating new international collaborations is a safe way to bridge citizens from countries that were previously inaccessible together.
The last main ideal Brett and Laura talked about was how do you make government innovate. They stressed the necessity to make the youth involved. The new up and coming generation is the key in Public Diplomacy. With technology evolving at the extreme rate that it is the new generation holds the key in expanding the government’s policies. This is the same sentiment that I hold, I feel like it is key for the young generation to get involved. Throughout the business world successful start up founders are younger and younger. If the United States government could utilize their abilities and the general populations beyond the business world and into the Diplomacy field we would see the advantages quickly.
What I really learned at the Global Engagement Office and through other meetings later in the week Public Diplomacy is a field that is growing exponentially. When I graduate in 2016 the opportunities will be available to my fellow classmates and I to make a positive change in the world through the United States government.