Like many blog titles, “Take Five” is part pun, part inside joke. On one level, we are asking readers interested in these issues to “take five” from their day and read the blog.

On another, the title is rooted in one of the legendary soft power initiatives of the last fifty years: The Jazz Diplomacy tours organized by the U.S. State Department since the early days of the Cold War. Along with Louis Armstrong (AKA: “Ambassador Satch”), the most notable of the musicians who toured the world to share America’s greatest home-grown musical tradition was Dave Brubeck,  who would eventually receive the Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy. And of course “Take Five” was probably Brubeck’s most famous song, recorded on the seminal masterpiece “Time Out” in 1959.

Take Five seeks to to invigorate the Public Diplomacy discussion with contributions from a wide range of authors, from experienced Public Diplomacy figures to scholars and young professionals newly venturing into the field. The site is a venue for fresh ideas about the way that America conducts its diplomatic relations abroad and about the impact of current policies. At Take Five we are interested in questions like:

  • What role did social media really play in the Arab Spring?
  • Are information and communication technologies (ICTs) empowering the poor in the developing world, or are the rich just getting richer?
  • How effective has the Obama Administration’s effort to create a “whole of government” approach to soft and hard power been, how can it be improved, and what can it learn from the experiences of other countries?
  • Do we need to rethink the very notion of “diplomacy” in a 2.0 world, and if so what would that mean?
  • Does the spread of citizen-generated videos of regime violence in places like Syria and Libya through social media pressure other nations to get involved in those conflicts, especially in an era guided by concerns about “Responsibility to Protect”? And if so, does that mean we are less likely to see more Rwandas, or more likely to see more Iraq-style quagmires.

Users interested in contributing to Take Five should contact Derek Gildea at ipdgc@gwu.edu

Key Contributors

Sean Aday

Sean Aday joined The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs in 2000, after completing his Ph.D. and a post-doctoral fellowship at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. His work focuses on the intersection of the press, politics, and public opinion, especially in relation to war and foreign policy. He has published widely on subjects ranging from the effects of watching local television news to coverage of American politics to media coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been involved in media and government capacity training projects globally, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. Aday currently serves as the Director of GW’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication and directs the Global Communication Master’s Program. As part of a National Science Foundation grant, he, along with two colleagues, conducted a series of surveys about Americans’ attitudes about government and media following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Aday was also the principle investigator for DC Student Voices, a curriculum-based project in Washington DC high schools that aimed to get students more involved in politics. He has been a frequent commentator in the press on news coverage of elections, crime, and war.

Mary Jeffers

Mary Jeffers is a public diplomacy practitioner with over two decades of experience in the State Department and (former) U.S. Information Agency. Jeffers most recently served as Public Affairs Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Rabat, Morocco (2008 -11), where “Arab Spring” issues and the impact of social media took center stage. She previously served as Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa (2003-06) and at the U.S. Embassies in Kampala, Uganda (2000-03) and Khartoum, Sudan (1989-1991). As Cultural Affairs Officer in Riyadh, Saudi Arabic (1994-96), she gained unique experience in women-focused public diplomacy outreach and in public-private partnerships. Her overseas assignments have also included Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer for Exchanges in London, Assistant Public Affairs Officer in Algiers, and Junior Officer Trainee in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. In Washington, Jeffers directed diplomatic outreach within the State Department’s Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, serving as interagency focal point for the U.S. delegation to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (2006-08). From 1996-2000, she worked for USIA as the Africa Branch Chief of the International Visitor Leadership Program and Country Affairs Officer for Central Africa.

Phillip J. Crowley

Philip J. (P.J.) Crowley is the Omar Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership at Dickinson College, the Penn State Dickinson School of Law and School of International Affairs, and the Army War College. P.J. is also a fellow at the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication within the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University. He appears frequently as a national security commentator on global television networks, including as a contributor to Al Jazeera English and the BBC. He is also a regular columnist for The Daily Beast. P.J. was nominated by President Obama as the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs in 2009 and confirmed by the United States Senate. He served as the Assistant Secretary and Spokesman at the Department of State until March 2011. He was the primary U.S. government interlocutor with major media regarding the release of classified diplomatic cables by Wikileaks.

Derek Gildea is a graduate of the Elliott School of International Affairs with a Master’s degree in Middle East Studies. Derek is the editor and and contributor for Take Five, the Institute’s blog on Global Communication and Public Diplomacy. He is a web designer and founder of the startup game company, Send More People.

The Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication at the George Washington University is an outgrowth of what was known from 2000-2008 as the Public Diplomacy Institute. IPDGC engages in a variety of activities, including sponsoring major conferences as well as more intimate panels, research talks, and workshops; hosting leading scholars and practitioners including several Undersecretaries of State; and offering training for NGOs, embassies, and others. The Institute is supported by both the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the Elliott School of International Affairs at GW. The Institute is also associated with the Global Communication Master’s Program, a joint effort between CCAS’s School of Media and Public Affairs and the Elliott School of International Affairs. The Institute has been fortunate to have a close relationship with the U.S. State Department, embodied most directly in the appointment of a senior Foreign Service officer to serve as IPDGC’s Senior Public Diplomacy Fellow.

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