USC student newspaper The Daily Trojan covered the MPD students’ annual trip to DC!
— USC APDS (@USC_APDS) March 22, 2016
During their final day in DC, the MPD representatives visited the British Council USA and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.
At the British Council USA, located next to the British Embassy, the students met with Director Paul Smith, who has a distinguished career in cultural relations. Previously he was Director of the British Council in Afghanistan, Egypt, West India, New Zealand, and also held executive positions with the British Council in Bangladesh, Germany, Chile, Burma, Lagos, and Kano.
Mr. Smith and the students discussed the differences between the British and American structures and traditions of public diplomacy, the increasing recognition that culture is at the heart of society and identity, and the British Council’s work to be more inclusive and to intervene in crisis situations.
For their final meeting in DC, the students visited the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum to speak with Dr. Roger Launius, Associate Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs.
Dr. Launius described a big question that influences his work and the work of public diplomats: Is the responsibility of curators to present exhibits or programs that are more celebratory of our history or more critical? He also discussed the challenge of engaging museum audiences, the centrality of international politics to the inception and maintenance of the International Space Station, the political impetus for the Apollo 11 moon mission, and the national prestige associated with space flight achievements.
The MPD representatives would like to thank Prof. Nick Cull and Dean Ernest Wilson for their generous support of this trip. We would also like to thank Prof. Robert Banks and Prof. Geoffrey Cowan, who helped connect us with organizations in DC. Finally, thank you to all of the amazing people we met in DC. You gave us a unique perspective on the successes and challenges of public diplomacy across multiple sectors, and consistently emphasized the increasing importance of this field in creating a more peaceful world. We are excited to bring back what we learned to the students in the MPD program at USC.
The MPD delegation to Washington, DC had a busy day on Thursday, with meetings at the United Nations Information Center, the Kazakhstan Embassy, the Korean Cultural Center, and Global Ties U.S., plus tours of the White House and Ford’s Theater.
At the United Nations Information Center, the students met with Deputy Director Andi Gitow. After discussing the center’s role, which is to serve as a focal point and resource for UN news and information so as to advance understanding about the UN and its work, Ms. Gitow answered the students’ questions about harnessing the power of videos and storytelling for advocacy and the UN’s current efforts to engage with young people.
While Jung-hwa “Judy” Kang and Amanda Lester toured the East Wing of the White House, Justin Chapman paid a visit to Ford’s Theatre, where President Lincoln was assassinated. At this point the group said goodbye to Justin, who had to get back to Los Angeles.
In the afternoon, the students met with Mr. Arman Sapargaliyev, Second Secretary (Energy) in Economic Affairs at the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Discussion centered on Mr. Sapargaliyev’s role in attracting American corporate sponsors for the 2017 Astana Expo, the theme of which is “Future Energy.” This three-month long international mega-event will bring together millions of people to raise awareness of and encourage sharing and collaboration on global energy issues.
Next, the students visited the Korean Cultural Center in DC, where they met with Adam Wojciechowicz, staff member at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea. Currently under renovation, the Korean Cultural Center offers art exhibits, language classes, and events for the American public to learn about South Korea.
Later, the students met with Global Ties U.S. President Jennifer Clinton and Franziska Rook, Program Manager, Membership. This organization is a non-profit partner of the U.S. Department of State, coordinating a domestic network which supports international exchange programs, including the International Visitor Leadership Program, of which more than 335 current or former heads of state are alumni. Ms. Clinton and Ms. Rook also talked about some new programs that Global Ties U.S. actually runs and the importance of building evaluation tools into programs from the very beginning.
Stay tuned for updates!
The MPD delegation in DC had a busy day on Wednesday, attending multiple meetings at the U.S. Department of State and speaking with Ambassador Capricia Marshall at the Atlantic Council.
At the State Department, the students met first with Judith Snyderman and Lindsey Spector from the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), as well as a student group from Syracuse University, with whom they discussed the increasing use of social media and other digital tools for global engagement.
Next, they met with Mark Taplin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), and Alyson Grunder, Director of the Office of Policy and Evaluation at ECA. Mr. Taplin and Ms. Grunder talked with the MPD students about what has and has not changed in ECA over the past twenty years and answered questions on evaluation, alumni management, and the relationship between ECA programs and foreign policy objectives.
Afterwards, the students met with Robert Hilton, Director of Press and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), and Caroline Nohr, an MPD alumna and Country Coordinator for Australia, New Zealand, & the Pacific Islands in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP). Discussion focused on programming strategies and sensitivities in these regions, the Obama administration’s “rebalance” towards the Asia Pacific region and its effect on public diplomacy, and the importance of giving public diplomacy specialists input into policymaking and policy implementation.
The visiting students were excited to have lunch with a few MPD alumni who work at the State Department. Melanie Ciolek is a Policy Officer with IIP. Martha Adams is a Public Affairs Specialist in the Office of Strategic Planning in the Bureau of Public Affairs (PA). Henrietta Levin is a Presidential Management Fellow with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, currently detailed to the State Department. These alumni shared work experiences and helpful advice on careers and internships.
In the afternoon, the students were thrilled to attend a Press Briefing at the State Department. After a preliminary statement about the Obama administration missing a congressional deadline on responding to ISIS atrocities, condemning the bombing of a mosque in Nigeria by Boko Haram, and strongly suggesting Americans restrict all travel to North Korea after that island nation sentenced 21-year-old U.S. citizen Otto Warmbier to 15 years hard labor for stealing a banner from a hotel, the Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner fielded questions from the press on the possibility of the U.S. recognizing the violence against religious and ethnic minorities in Syria by the Islamic State as genocide, the Russian exit from Syria, press freedom in Turkey, and other current issues.
After the Press Briefing, the students met with Xander Vagg, Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Diplomacy Center, which is a museum and educational center for American diplomacy scheduled to open in late 2017 or early 2018 that will include several interactive exhibits.
The meetings at the State Department were made possible by Elena Kovalchuk, Sanaa Anwar, and James Dewey.
Following the State Department visit, the students met with Capricia Marshall, Ambassador-in-Residence with the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council, a think tank that brings together leaders in international politics, business, and academia to study security and economic issues. Previously, she was Chief of Protocol of the United States, Special Assistant to Hillary Rodham Clinton during Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992, Special Assistant to the First Lady, and White House Social Secretary during the Clinton administration.
Ambassador Marshall and the students discussed her career in public service, programs she started involving ambassadors and gastrodiplomacy, careers at think tanks, the economic and security benefits of investing in programs that promote mutual understanding, and maintaining a work-life balance.
The students continued their conversation with Ryan McElveen, Assistant Director of the Brookings Institution’s John L. Thornton China Center, over dinner.
Stay tuned for more updates!
The MPD delegation began day two by visiting the Brookings Institution, a non-profit, nonpartisan think tank celebrating its centenary.
Ryan McElveen, assistant director of the Brookings Institution’s John L. Thornton China Center, gave us an overview of both the Institution and its China Center, which is among the most respected in the world. Asked about whether the relationship between the U.S. and China will remain amicable or will eventually result in conflict, McElveen said, “Brookings is optimistic about our relations…. I do believe China will continue to be a partner on major issues, such as climate change.”
Following a tour of the Brookings Institution’s facilities, the MPD delegation sat in on a well attended forum with keynote speaker Filippo Grandi, the newly appointed United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR).
“On the 5th anniversary of the crisis in Syria, we should reflect on the collective abysmal political failure that Syria represents for the international community,” said Grandi. “The human cost of this failure is quickly becoming incalculable. Never forget, behind all those numbers are individuals experiencing unthinkable suffering.”
From the Brookings Institution, the MPD delegation traveled to Capitol Hill, where they were led on a tour of the Capitol building by the staff of Congressman Adam Schiff (D-28th District, CA). President Obama happened to be hosting a St. Patrick’s Day lunch with House Speaker Paul Ryan at the Capitol during the MPD delegation’s tour.
Following the Capitol tour, the MPD delegation met with Congressman Adam Schiff in his office in the Rayburn House Office Building. They discussed his role on the House Select Committe on the Benghazi Attacks, the importance of diplomacy in strengthening the U.S.’s national security, the controversial issue of “comfort women” between Japan and South Korea, and Mr. Schiff’s Freedom of Speech Caucus.
“We don’t have much to show for the $6 million we spent [on this latest Benghazi investigative committee],” said Schiff. “It was largely a fishing expedition [with political goals].”
Schiff also noted that diplomacy is “absolutely essential” to strengthening the U.S.’s national security. “For some years there was some level of disdain for diplomacy efforts, but people have recognized that there are real limits to even the most powerful military in the world. So some of the steam has gone out of the school of thought that diminished the value of diplomacy.”
As soon as the meeting with Congressman Schiff was over, a large buzzer in his office indicated that it was time for him to rush through the underground tunnels to the House floor to cast his vote on an energy bill. Meanwhile, the MPD delegation traveled to the other side of the city to meet with representatives of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Madeleine McGill and Sarah Kyrouac.
It was interesting to note the difference between the legacy of John F. Kennedy (i.e. the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts) and the legacy of Richard Nixon (the Watergate Hotel), right next door to each other.
To wrap up the day, the MPD delegation knocked back a few brews at the Elephant & Castle with several MPD alumni currently living and working in Washington, DC.
Tomorrow, the MPD delegation is scheduled to visit the State Department and the Atlantic Council. However, in an unprecedented move, Metro DC announced that it will shutdown the entire Metro subway system for emergency system-wide safety checks for 29 hours starting at midnight tonight. So tomorrow should be very interesting!
Stay tuned for more updates!
The 2016 Master’s in Public Diplomacy (MPD) delegation to Washington, DC, kicked off five days of high-level meetings with a visit to USC’s DC office.
At USC’s DC office, the MPD delegation met with Adam Clayton Powell III, Senior Fellow at the USC Center on Communication Leadership & Policy, University Fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, and president of the Public Diplomacy Council.
Powell said public diplomacy is growing in popularity, thanks in large part to USC and the Center on Public Diplomacy (CPD).
“Everybody says the USC CPD website is the gold standard globally for public diplomacy,” he said. “These are people who teach at other major universities and use the website shamelessly. People come from around the U.S. and abroad to see what resources there are. It’s interesting to see how PD and the study of it is viewed with such interest.”
Last year Google approached Powell and CCLP and asked them to study the Internet of Things (IOT).
“Ten to twenty years from now there could be billions of things connected to the internet,” said Powell. “Vint Cerf [father of the Internet] likes to say that all kitchen appliances will be connected to Internet and you will be able to run them by your cell phone. Things can go wrong, and spectacularly. You can imagine if someone’s hacking into an airplane, or stopping all cars in the city; it’s not beyond the realm of possibility. Google wants us to acquaint policymakers here in Washington, the federal government, international agencies, NGOs, etc., with how they should be thinking about connecting and responding to these kinds of problems, be it a bad actor like North Korea or a ten year old in her pajamas who accidentally launches some code. Pieces of software could interact in ways not predicated and create havoc. How should governments be thinking about this? Google says it’s an international problem.”
After offering even more cogent insights into the changing media and technology landscapes, Mr. Powell introduced a special guest – who had in fact brought his own special guest!
Daniel Whitman, former Program Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, brought his new book Outsmarting Apartheid: An Oral History of South Africa’s Cultural and Educational Exchange with the United States, 1960-1999, a wealth of stories from his career in public diplomacy, and a friend and colleague, Dr. Abdin Noboa-Rios. A native of Puerto Rico, Dr. Noboa-Rios is writing a book on the growing Latino education crisis in America. Discussion topics included: the distinction between public diplomacy and development; lessons from Mr. Whitman’s experiences in post-apartheid South Africa; arguments for continued funding of international exchange programs; transferring lessons from the international to the domestic sphere; and ideas for future research.
“Culture is politics,” said Whitman. “We understood that for a brief time but then we lost sight of it. It’s during the relaxation of tensions that you need to increase outreach to other cultures, not decrease.”
Whitman pointed out that there is a thin line between legitimate public diplomacy and propaganda.
“In public diplomacy, we converse, we share ideas, and we listen,” he said. “We do not ‘assist’ other countries. To the extent that PD has turned into a megaphone for social messaging to convince people that ‘we’re not bad;’ that is a failure. If there’s any element of ‘we will show you something; we’re not bad,’ it absolutely crosses the line into propaganda. As soon as you’re doing one way communication, even if you’re telling the truth 100%, you’re not furthering any goal, and the audience will not trust you.”
Later that afternoon, the MPD delegation visited Voice of America (VOA), the U.S. Government’s broadcast institution whose programming is directed at foreign audiences, especially in places where U.S. news is otherwise not readily available. USC Annenberg has a special connection to VOA: former Annenberg Dean Geoffrey Cowan served as the 22nd Director of VOA from 1994-1996, and Professor Cowan’s father served as the 2nd Director of VOA from 1943-1945. Justin and Judy both work closely with Professor Cowan at USC.
During the visit to VOA, the MPD delegation was privileged to meet with the institution’s Acting Director, Ms. Kelu Chao, who talked to the students about how VOA is adapting to the changing media environment, maintaining its objectivity while still serving as a diplomatic tool, and working to engage its audiences by generating in-depth discussions.
“As a news person, I know objectivity is in the eye of the beholder,” said Chao. “It would be very difficult when someone writes a story to not be influenced by their background. It’s part of the challenge. But for a trained journalist, credibility is everything. And our audience knows; they can smell propaganda right away, because they’re subjected to propaganda all the time [in their home countries]. We’re very sensitive about this. We really look at ourselves and every story hopefully is balanced.”
Stay tuned for more updates!
Stay tuned next week (March 14-18, 2016) for posts by Master in Public Diplomacy students Amanda Lester, Judy Kang, and Justin Chapman as they represent the MPD program in Washington, DC. The MPD delegation will be meeting with officials from and attending events at the State Department, Voice of America, Congress, the Kennedy Center, the British Council, the Atlantic Council, the Brookings Institution, the United Nations Information Center, the White House, Global Ties US, the Korean Embassy, the Kazakhstan Embassy, the National Air and Space Museum, and more!
Every year graduate students in the MPD program travel to Washington, DC, on a professional development and networking trip. Read about last year’s trip here.
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!