By Robin Terry
In February of this year, Philip Seib, who is the Director of the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California, wrote a blog post entitled “Climate Change, Terrorism, and Public Diplomacy” regarding a relatively unheard-of reality that public diplomacy must respond to. This reality was recognized by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and is being made a top priority by her successor, Secretary John Kerry. This reality actually makes up three-quarters of our planet’s surface, and yet is one of the most fragile resources in many places in the world.
Water diplomacy is coming into its own as the world’s population mushrooms to 7 billion and counting. Kerry is already making climate change and a focus on oceans a major priority for his tenure at the US Department of State, disregarding climate change skeptics by declaring that the ocean system “is interdependent, and we toy with that at our peril.”
What makes public diplomacy important on this issue is that water is an indisputably essential and globally shared resource. Secretary Kerry recognizes that water diplomacy must be approached with delicacy to build bridges and maintain open communication (dialogue) to share and foster synergy, instead of becoming a battleground over threatened resources and an opportunity for imperialism. Seib writes, “Public diplomats representing nations such as the United States have long recognized the importance of water diplomacy. For years, the Peace Corps has worked with local communities around the world to ensure safe water supplies….” Global community projects centering around wells and water safety as well as water conservation practices in drought-stricken regions have proven to be effective tactics to bring about economic prosperity and an increased quality of life, and have also had an important public diplomacy impact by generating awareness and urgency, and highlighting cooperation. But what will bring about lasting change to the big picture? Will Kerry’s top-down approach to one of life’s most precious and fundamental resources deliver a vital answer?
Secretary Kerry’s call to rally around the growing problem that is water security is coming out of the gate as a collaborative effort in a deep bay of the Southern Ocean in Antarctica, the Ross Sea. Secretary Kerry is aiming to create the largest marine protected area on Earth. These lofty ambitions, if successful, will create a foundation of conservation, collaboration, and global security in the frontier of water diplomacy. The biodiversity standing to be given sanctuary amounts to over 16,000 species including whales, penguins, and seals (fauna diplomacy, anyone?) over roughly 890,000 square miles. Secretary Kerry is extending an olive branch of scientific opportunity and setting a conservation precedent that could provide capital for future public diplomacy goals. New Zealand is already on board in establishing the joint proposal and 23 other countries will announce their stance in July.
Water diplomacy caters to a very specific and absolutely requisite part of every human’s life. Therefore it is conceivable that a top-down emphasis on water diplomacy that encompasses major public diplomacy elements can have a significant effect. Other public diplomacy tactics such as educational or culinary diplomacy are collectives of bottom-up, separate attempts to address a big-picture issue. While this does not mean that these tactics are ineffective (I staunchly believe the opposite), it illustrates the diversity of approaches and the deliberate angle that such a fundamental resource, water, demands. Kerry appreciates how important this issue must be treated and is addressing the void that water diplomacy has played in the public diplomacy conversation as of late.
Water diplomacy encompasses national security, climate conservation, multilateral operations, and the (secret weapon) positive animal interest angle on a grand scale. By giving such a large-scale issue the stage and attention it deserves, will Kerry’s top-down approach prove more effective than the project-based approach used by other types of public diplomacy? Will public diplomacy associated with large-scale reform and change increasingly become the answer in our globalized society?
by Kate Mays
Looking at only the gender makeup of the Ugandan government, one could make the argument that Uganda is doing pretty well with gender equality. Women make up almost 35% of its current parliamentary members, and in 2011 the 9th Parliament elected its first female Speaker. Further, Uganda was ranked 28th in the 2012 World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report for political empowerment (compared to a rather shoddy 55th place showing for the US. Of course, gender parity in government is only one of many metrics to judge how equally genders are treated within society.) And the gender parity in Uganda’s government representation right now exists primarily because of a gender quota, which was included in the 1995 Constitution, and stipulates that each district must elect a female representative (to date, there are 112 total).
I am not going to delve into the pros and cons of Uganda’s gender quota – that discussion would be divergent and has been done effectively elsewhere – but it is an important premise on which to evaluate the Ugandan government’s approach to gender equality. Namely, one that embraces gender mainstreaming principles, which gained a lot of momentum after the 1995 Beijing UN Conference on Gender and Development, and continue to be practiced and implemented by some governments, the United Nations, the World Bank, and other international organizations.
Uganda does not have a sterling history in terms of its treatment of women. In the economically dominant Bugandan culture, it is commonplace for women to kneel down before men as a respectful way of greeting them (men do not return the favor, neither to women nor other men). Patriarchy pervades Ugandan culture – this post from the WomanStats blog has a good description of the gender roles. In James Lull’s definition of culture, he emphasizes the “extreme repetitiveness of everyday behavior” as the foundation for culture: “Cultural redundancy produces and reproduces meanings which form the bases of coordinated social interaction.” While the act of a woman kneeling for a man in greeting might only seem like an odd, outdated cultural tradition, the societal manifestations of the patriarchal custom are more insidious. According to statistics from the Uganda Women’s Network, 60% of Ugandan women experience gender-based violence. While this has been the focus of some more-recent legislation, it will likely take more than a few laws to reverse the culture and improve on the kind of gender inequality highlighted in this figure.
However, even if the situation on the ground, culturally within the society, is still grim, embracing the language and principles of gender mainstreaming signals to the international community that the Ugandan government acknowledges that gender inequality is a problem that needs a solution, and shows that it is at least making strides to address it. (Uganda has a Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development; it also crafted a National Gender Policy in 2007). For all of gender quotas’ potential deficiencies and possible exploitation, it is, I would argue, a step, and one that signals a commitment to being open to take further steps.
In his piece on Cosmopolitan Constructivism, Cesar Villanueva Rivas notes that “that the ways in which [countries’] identities and intentions are constructed abroad count.” Gender mainstreaming, at the very least, signals an intention, and helps to foster an environment of promoting women’s empowerment. As a result, countries like Sweden, Norway, and the US have shared knowledge and resources with Uganda, through direct engagement with the government in helping to craft gender policy, as well as through Ugandan universities and the numerous NGOs in the region.
What does this mean for Uganda’s cultural diplomacy efforts around women? I would argue that there is a lot of potential for Uganda to stake a bigger global claim on some of the issues it has been working on domestically. Many countries in Africa have adopted gender quotas and are still struggling with similar obstacles to societal and cultural gender equality. Using the NGO infrastructure that already exists, Uganda could coordinate with women’s groups like the Pan-African Women’s Organisation and FEMNET (the African Women’s Development and Communication Network) to host a summit or forum on women in politics, with particular attention paid to leadership and advocacy. A similar program, the African Women Leaders Project, was held in 2008, but it was also run by outside organizations. Although a seemingly intangible detail, if such initiatives come from the African countries themselves it gives them a real power. Further, it would show that Uganda is not only open to accepting the “cosmopolitan” values of “tolerance, friendship, and respect,” but is also “internalizing” these values.
In his piece, Rivas cites Alexander Wendt, who identifies three “degrees” of internalization, the third being “legitimacy,” which is “the most developed of these actions pursued by states, since it emerges from the state’s principles and convictions.” Wendt uses the framework of “friends” and “allies” to differentiate the modes with which countries interact; “friends” is a longer-term relationship in which countries “join a process of common understanding and societal exchanges, step by step.” Within this framework also emerges the idea of a “Self” and an “Other.” Wendt marks progress by how a state can “identify with other’s expectations, relating them as part of themselves.” In the third degree of internalization, “Self is not self-interested but rather it is interested in the Other.” In this case, I would say the “Other” is both Ugandan women as well as countries abroad. Uganda should act for women’s empowerment in recognition of what their “expectations” are for being treated equally, and internalize that goal of equality as one of its own.
The disparity in how women are treated in Ugandan society and how they’re treated in the government’s official gender policies is problematic because it sends a mixed message to other countries. Tolerance, friendship, and respect have to start at home, in order to be credibly projected to the rest of the world. Just as gender quotas project a positive image, it is important for Uganda’s reputation abroad that Ugandan women’s lives continue to improve.
The above post is from Take Five’s Student Perspective series. Kate Mays is studying Cultural Diplomacy as Communication at the George Washington University, looking at themes such as youth, gender, health, climate, free press, and democracy, and writing on how these themes relate to cultural diplomacy and communication.
… only darkness everyday (until someone gets confirmed, at least).
Rumors began to fly online on April 23rd, and today, April 24, The Washington Post politics blog said that Tara Sonenshine, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the State Department, will be leaving her post in July. It has not been made public what her next position will be, although the Post noted she’s ”likely headed to an academic or media gig”.
Let’s recap the Under Secretaries in that position over the last 10 years:
In the last ten years, the United States has had only two presidents, but has had six Under Secretaries at the helm of what is increasingly regarded as a very important piece of U.S. foreign policy (public diplomacy). The shelf life of these people (not including Stephens) averages to less than a year and a half. In addition, approximately 29 months of the last decade, the seat has been empty, which is maybe the saddest fact of the entire situation. And likely, it will see many more months of vacancy after July, due to the incredible hassle of confirmation in today’s Congress.
So, my question is, “What exactly is driving these people away?”.
I understand that it has historically been an appointed position (which many say is a flaw in itself), but what is it about U.S. public diplomacy that makes it so we can’t even keep someone for a single Presidential term?
Is the job too difficult because one simply can’t easily defend U.S. foreign policy over the last decade? Are the appointees, many from the more efficient private sector (including Sonenshine) too bogged down by bureaucracy? Is promoting the image of the U.S. to foreign countries a lost cause?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, nor will I opine thoughts about them. But the current level of rotation of the top public diplomacy position in the U.S. surely is not helping our cause, for obvious reasons. Internationally, it reflects poorly that people keep quitting a job that our long-held American exceptionalist ideals would lead people to believe is virtuous and done with ease. Internally, State Department officials have to deal with every newly confirmed Under Secretary coming in and mixing things around–”making their mark” in structure and programming. And for the American people, it creates breaks in the links of the PD machine, which serve to promote understanding and create security for us at home.
It would be wise of President Obama to swiftly nominate someone who he thinks will stick around, at least until the end of his term. For everyone’s sake.
India: the world’s most populous democratic country with one of the largest economies. Africa: a largely developing continent attempting to work itself out of vast poverty and violent conflicts. Both have large youth populations, a desire to play a stronger role in international markets and, importantly, an interest in each other.
In early April, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) sponsored a two-day collaborative workshop in New Delhi known as “INDIAFRICA: A Shared Future.” The purpose of the forum, held on April 4-5, was to bring together the youth (defined as those under 30 years old) of two populations that have a mutually growing interest in each other to fashion solutions to the many shared development challenges faced by India and Africa:
“The initiative [was] born in 2011 out of recognition of shared sensibilities, histories and intertwined cultures between India and the African continent. The connection between India and Africa, home to an over-two-million-strong Indian diaspora, has been ‘a continuous process of socio-cultural and economic exchange.’”
Given these similarities, why the targeted focus on youth? As previously mentioned, both India and Africa have considerable youth populations. According to statistics from the CIA World Factbook, the median age in India is 26.5 years, while the median age for countries in Africa ranges from 15.1 in Uganda and 18.9 in Zimbabwe to 25.3 in South Africa and 28.1 years in Algeria. The young populations, as Manoj Kohli, head of the International Business Group for Bharti Airtel, explains, are very attractive, especially when considering “the western world, Russia, China, Japan are all graying.” Navdeep Suri, joint secretary of public diplomacy in India’s MEA, said, “The driving vision of the program is to unleash the enormous energy of young people, to encourage their powerful creative ideas and to enable them to be facilitators of this process.”
As described on the website, “INDIAFRICA: A Shared Future is a unique people-to-people initiative that aims at engaging multiple stakeholders in India and Africa through contests, fellowships, discussions, events, collaborative projects and cultural exchanges.” During this workshop, a total of 72 Indian and African youth (36 Indian and 36 African individuals), coming from a wide range of disciplines, pitch and debate “their views on challenges and opportunities in areas like energy, environment, healthcare, education, culture, creative exchanges, tourism, governance, food and nutrition in their respective regions…”
Public diplomacy, in the past few decades, “has been widely seen as the transparent means by which a sovereign country communicates with publics in other countries aimed at informing and influencing audiences overseas for the purpose of promoting the national interest and advancing its foreign policy goals.” This—what one might call public diplomacy in the modern sense of the word—was put forth by the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy. The definition is useful in the sense that it is broad and fairly encompassing, but how does INDIAFRICA fit within it?
At its core, INDIAFRICA is an initiative that might be defined as “little c” cultural diplomacy, a narrower subcategory of public diplomacy. Using Dr. Emil Constantinescu’s definition, cultural diplomacy can be defined as “a course of actions, which are based on and utilize the exchange of ideas, values, traditions and other aspects of culture or identity…” INDIAFRICA fits perfectly within this characterization and has the added element of youth involvement. Rather than convening a forum for business and government officials, INDIAFRICA brings together two youth populations in the name of building positive first impressions and tapping on the energy, creativity and enthusiasm–rather than the demonstrated expertise–these groups have the potential to generate.
INDIAFRICA lumps different categories, such as business and culture, together in the same package. The initiatives taken on by this enterprise include building democratic developmental institutions; establishing governance networks in areas such as agriculture, micro-finance, entrepreneurship development and healthcare; generating employment; creating “profitable partnerships”; funding the future through Indian soft loans to its African partners; and finally “building trust and mutual respect and building relationships.” And participants tackle these strategies in a number of ways—not simply the two-day workshop. INDIAFRICA promotes India-Africa collaboration through a series of contests: 1) Business Venture, 2) Poster Design, 3) Photography, and 4) Essay Writing, each attributing to a cultural diplomacy niche.
Each of the four contests has a theme that aligns with some larger cultural phenomenon. In the 2012-2013 contests for instance, the theme for Business Venture Contest was “Entrepreneurial Solutions to Address Developmental Challenges,” the Poster Design Contest’s was “What does Freedom mean to you?” the Photography Contest’s was “Communities in India and Africa” and the Essay Writing Contest’s was “How can India and Africa collaborate to co-create a brighter future?” These themes align well with the ‘universal norms’ of democracy and innovation, while suiting INDIAFRICA’s aim to help shape the future of these two geographies through their respective youths. They emphasize the culture of both India and Africa while still moving them toward more global political and developmental environments. Suri surmised this point by noting that the multidisciplinary contest series help “create a platform for talented and young Indians and Africans to exchange ideas about emergent realities, successes and challenges and explore future collaborations in business, design and culture.”
The beauty of INDIAFRICA lies within its configuration, which includes strategic as well as shared considerations. The Indian government has increasingly viewed Africa as a realm of opportunity for furthering its commercial interests, and the “leadership of Indian and African nations have set a bilateral trade target of $100 billion by 2015.” Kohli said that his company alone has invested $13 billion in Africa, plans to invest more and has already recruited about 7,000 employees in the continent. Although cultural diplomacy is rarely conducted in the name of self-interest, it is worth noting that India’s interest in Africa extends beyond purely strategic self-interest and that the country considers this initiative as a means for achieving shared policy goals. Both geographies (both the governments and national companies) “work jointly to help in capacity building, knowledge sharing, job creation and other areas.” The similar and shared foreign policy goals lends INDIAFRICA to being seen as a joint collaboration, benefiting all involved.
“A large workforce with fewer children to support creates a window of opportunity to save money on health care and other social services; improve the quality of education; increase economic output because of more people working; invest more in technology and skills to strengthen the economy; and create the wealth needed to cope with the future aging of the population.”
This window, known as the demographic dividend, can be addressed through initiatives such as INDIAFRICA that bring together the young people in the name of a better future. For young participants, who may or may not be true opinion leaders in their home societies yet, this forum provides the ultimate learning model as well as a safe venue for the sharing of ideas. Further, this particular program not only allows youth to address development challenges and think of solutions early on, but it is also acts as the foundation for the future relationship between the two geographies.
by Anna-Lena Tepper
Former NBA player Dennis Rodman’s recent visit to North Korea came to many as a surprise. Along with an entourage of fellow basketball players from the performance group Harlem Globetrotters, Rodman went to visit the most oppressive country in the world, but his intentions weren’t politically motivated. His mission was simply to share the joy of basketball with the North Korean people. In his few days there he did not only initiate several friendly games between American players and North Korean teams, but he also had several friendly encounters with the country’s dictator Kim Jong Un. He left with a great impression of the country and its people and they also seemed to have enjoyed his visit. Upon his return to the States, Rodman’s advice to the President was that he should just call his Communist counterpart to sort things out. This sounds almost too good to be true and very easily done. The question arises, if maybe this approach might yield better results than the ones initiated – or in the case of US-North Korean relationship “non-initiated” – by the international community. After all, Rodman managed to have friendly encounters with one of the US’s biggest enemies.
The field of public or cultural diplomacy has received major academic attention over the last few years. People are not just studying public diplomacy, they also try to analyze, standardize, optimize, generalize, and define it. In an attempt to engage foreign audiences and develop a deeper relationship with them, based on shared interests and common ideas, governments spend millions of dollars each year to implement programs that can facilitate these engagements. However, despite countless highly sophisticated programs – ranging from student and leadership exchanges to a variety of cultural events – that are tailored to different audiences, too often neither scholars, nor policy makers can determine a cause-effect relationship between the programs they implemented and approval rates abroad.
And then there is Dennis Rodman, who travels to North Korea without a plan and manages to leave the country a few days later and everyone, including the country’s communist leader that hasn’t had any friendly encounters with an American in as long as anyone can remember, is all smiley faces. No science behind it, just what seems like intuition, and it worked – apparently. However, some argue that Rodman’s visit was actually counterproductive, as his approval of Kim Jong Un directly legitimized his questionable leadership.
Still, the question arises if maybe American scholars are sometimes overanalyzing public diplomacy and therefore, often miss their set goals (or can’t detect it). Many argue that Dennis Rodman’s visit was just staged and now that he has gone nothing has changed. Those people have a point. Kim Jong Un has just threatened the United States with a nuclear war again. Politically, Rodman’s visit hasn’t changed anything. However, he still managed to open North Korea to an American visitor for a friendly encounter with the leader for first time in decades, and that is something neither politicians nor scholars have been able to achieve.
Fact is, public diplomacy needs to be very targeted in order to be successful, but at the same time, PD scholars and practitioners should also keep in mind that sometimes intuition is a good indicator of what is a good approach and what is not. Especially in the case of North Korea, maybe a mix of intuitive steps and targeted PD programs is going to lead to a change in the near, or not so near future.
Anna-Lena Tepper is a graduate student at the George Washington University, and is posting as part of Take Five’s ongoing Student Perspective series.
by Mercedes Bell
Access to quality education offers students in the Third World a chance to improve their lives, careers, and health, and can even give them the resources they need to improve their communities with economic growth and political stability. But without the tools to reach quality education, Third World students can’t enjoy these benefits.
In our organization’s first installment of this series, we discussed barriers to access in education, and the potential that lies in giving students and communities access to online and mobile resources. Even with growing worldwide connectivity, students need access and tools to get to them. Online learning centers, computers, tablets, and mobile devices can get them connected to life-changing and community-boosting educational resources.
(Note: You can find the third article in this series on distance learning here.)
Third World schools and communities can find great support in tech-equipped learning centers that provide full scale solutions for learning from laptops to teacher technology training. These centers serve not just students, but the entire community in learning technology, and learning through technology.
Programs like the Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership (DCGEP) improve Third World schools with technology resources, as well as video programming and teacher training for implementing the program. These learning centers typically result in an increase in student learning as well as improved teacher effectiveness. But it’s not just students that benefit: the DCGEP program reports that the learning centers also increase community access to information overall as they function as informational hubs in the community.
Similarly, the Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) creates community technology and learning centers in Africa, bringing tech labs to developing communities along with extensive programs and support. In YTF’s Owerri Digital Village, the foundation offers after-school programs that focus on developing technology skills and fostering interest in STEM fields. The village extends to educating the community with initiatives like RLabs, which gives students access to tech tools and education in ethics, sexual health, and personal responsibility. The students are also able to use social media to share personal stories and take advantage of health counseling.
The World Computer Exchange (WCE) provides not just computers and technology, but the support to make them useful in the developing communities they serve. Along with computers, WCE delivers educational content and curriculum on agriculture, health entrepreneurship, and even water and energy. The program also ensures that teachers will know how to use the technology and content by providing staff and teacher training, as well as ongoing tech team support.
Computers provide students with the best that educational technology has to offer. Laptops and PCs enabled with Internet connections, content, and software can give students the power to explore self learning. With an Internet connected computer, students are able to access every educational resource available online, from open courseware projects to educational tutorials. They can also be used to run educational software, making them the ideal learning tools for students in developing countries.
One Laptop Per Child is the most famous Third World computer program for students, and they’ve worked to create and donate affordable, rugged laptops to Third World students. Each child is able to enjoy their own computer as an exploration and learning tool, and sometimes, even a source of light for the home. The laptops connect to one another, and are able to share a single point of Internet access together. Power is supplied through a variety of sources, including solar and human power, and each laptop comes pre-loaded with learning software. More than 2 million laptops have been distributed to children worldwide through this program.
Computer access that offers 1:1 tools for students is ideal, but even shared resources can be successful. Small islands in the Caribbean have found success in using moveable laptop carts that can be moved from one classroom to another. Instead of a stationary computer lab, the schools are able to integrate the laptops into classroom learning while making the most out of the resources they have.
Textbooks are typically in short supply in the Third World. A Brookings Institute study indicates that 3/4 of schools in southern African countries do not have a basic textbook for math or reading. Even those that do have textbooks may have outdated resources, as books are updated regularly, but Third World countries can’t afford the new books. They may not even be at the correct learning level, or relevant to the curriculum. With tablets and e-readers, schools are able to provide students with easily updatable devices that hold multiple books at once. The initial investment cost is higher than a single book, but thanks to donation initiatives and open resources, tablets and e-readers are a surprisingly capable learning resource for Third World students.
The Worldreader program shares Kindle e-readers and digital books with the developing world. As of February 2013, this organization has delivered nearly half a million e-books to sub-Saharan Africa. Each Kindle can hold up to 1,500 e-books, offers a long battery life, and takes advantage of digital subscription services, as well as open book projects like the Open Textbook Initiative. The Worldreader program also provides for the development and digitization of local books, and many of the books in the Worldreader program are from African authors. Students who participated in Worldreader’s Ghana pilot study showed a marked improvement on their English test scores.
The founders behind One Laptop Per Child have branched out to a new device: the tablet. Although OLPC has been successful, the program stopped short of teaching students how to use the devices. Now, through One Tablet Per Child, founder Nicholas Negroponte expects to see kids teaching themselves. As tablets are intuitively easy to use, children can quickly figure out how to interact with it. The low cost, solar powered tablet is designed to spread literacy and learning, and is delivered to children with no instructions, but pre-installed with educational apps and learning tools to be discovered. Children in the initial phase have responded as expected and show encouraging use. An average of 57 apps are utilized each day, and some children have already learned to recite the alphabet.
Initiatives like OLPC and Worldreader are doing a great job to spread technology and learning with feature rich ed tech tools, but there’s only so much these organizations can do at once. A strong alternative to computer and tablet devices is the ubiquitous cell phone. The International Telecommunications Union reports that many developing communities already have widespread cell phone connection and use, with 87% global saturation of mobile subscriptions. And, most of the world is able to access 2G or greater, with access for 90% of the world’s population. Clearly, mobile learning is a resource that is ripe for utilization.
Worldreader isn’t just providing tablets to Third World students; they’re turning e-books into resources that can be read on nearly any mobile device, even low end feature phones like the ones prevalent in the developing world. Partnered with app developer biNu, books and stories offered through Worldreader Mobile can be displayed on any device running Java, Android, or Blackberry in any language and even feature a translate tool. The books use minimal data, so readers save on bandwidth charges. Readers can choose from thousands of books, including public domain classics, short stories, and life-saving information on HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other health issues.
While most programs target students directly, UNESCO has started a project that educates Pakistani teachers through mobile phones. In addition to conventional training, the teachers will be sent up to 750 mobile messages on morality, health, language, and teacher training. Organizers believe that this unconventional training is faster and more attractive than other methods and hope that the project can be replicated globally.
Even without the use of a cellular or Internet connection, mobile devices can be powerful teaching tools. Fireside Pictures created a resource dubbed The Learning Village built simply on iPods, solar chargers, and pre-loaded videos that were sent to Haiti. The team created five videos in native Haitian language with information including shapes, colors, and the alphabet. These videos were loaded onto shared iPods and delivered to children. Before their use, students were given a pre-exam to measure their knowledge and shown how to use the iPods to watch the learning videos. One month later, the test was administered again, and the students showed an average score increase of 44% without any formal teacher present. The students even created their own informal discussion groups to talk about what they’d learned on the iPods, indicating that this learning resource proved to be small but powerful.
Initiatives spreading ed tech tools to the Third World are making a difference, but with assistance, they can do even more. Financial contributions, donations of used electronics, and even your time and talent are welcomed. Here’s how you can help:
Teachers and quality education are in short supply in the Third World. That’s why it’s important to maximize the resources that are available to young learners in these communities. The Third World just doesn’t have enough teachers to go around, but with ed tech tools, we can give teachers and students the resources they need to make the most of what they have.
A version of this article appeared on OnlineUniversities.com.
The first post in this series explained how many embassies based in Washington DC are using social media and which platforms embassies most frequently use.
After looking at embassy presence across all platforms, Facebook and Twitter proved to be the two most popular – over 50 embassies in Washington DC were identified as having Twitter accounts and 60 embassies had Facebook accounts
Of the social media platforms identified in our earlier piece, Twitter makes data most easily available and with least restrictions through their API (Automated Programming Interface). As a result, we have focused on Twitter rather than Facebook for this post, although we acknowledge the total number of DC Embassies using Facebook is slightly greater than those using Twitter.
When social media and twitter specifically are discussed within the context of Public Diplomacy, one of the frequently cited metrics is the number of followers. While this is a frequently stated metric, when stated about a single Twitter account it is at very best a tactical question, rather than an indicator of a successful strategy – unless getting followers is the end goal of using a Twitter account for Public Diplomacy. One way this metric can be a little more useful is to put it in the context of others in the same field, or in this case other Embassies in DC. While this is still relatively limited in its utility, there is at least a comparative element.
The above chart shows the number of followers for all the Twitter accounts that were found during the initial research phase. As noted on the chart, the Twitter account for Nirupama Rao, India’s ambassador to the U.S.- @NMenonRao, has the most followers. At the time of the making of the chart, she had around 75,000 followers. At the time of writing this post, about six weeks later, her followers were close to 92,000. Clearly she is doing something right on Twitter that she was able to gain that many followers in such a short amount of time. A quick glance at her account shows that she tweets consistently, which is crucial to acquiring and maintaining followers, and that she was on Foreign Policy Magazine’s list of 100 Womerati which is a list created after there was a lack of women in Foreign Policy’s list of 100 Twitterati.
The 100 Womerati list is a group of women that are deemed by Foreign Policy as “100 female tweeters around the world that everyone should follow.” This could explain the extraordinarily high number of followers that she has, but is probably not the entire reason. The next highest number of followers is the Indian Diplomacy Twitter account (@IndianDiplomacy) which is the dedicated Twitter account of the Public Diplomacy sector of India’s Foreign Ministry. The fact that they have a dedicated account for public diplomacy demonstrates just how devoted they are to using social media to engage international audiences. This account is not directed solely at the United States which may account for its high number of followers in relation to the other accounts on this chart. On the other side of the chart, we see several embassy Twitter accounts that have few to no followers. This is caused mainly by two problems: no one knows the account exists (i.e. it’s not linked to the embassy’s web site) or the account is not maintained (i.e. no one is sending tweets).
Moving away from a direct comparison of follower numbers, another indicator to consider is whether others in the same field think an account is worth following. This might give a comparative sense of authority around a particular issue or area of activity. In this case, while Embassies may at some level compete to represent their respective national interests, it is rarely a zero-sum proposition. As a result, there are many opportunities to collaborate and where a positive outcome for one Embassy is equally positive for another.
From this perspective, a very low level collaborative approach to public diplomacy could be to follow other Embassies on Twitter. The following graph represents the e-diplomacy network which exists between Embassies which are active on social media in Washington DC. Lines between nodes represent the follower / following relationships between Embassies in DC. Those represented by larger nodes and with larger labels are followed by the greatest number of other embassies in DC, and the smallest nodes are followed by the fewest embassies.
The data represented in this graph shows which embassies are considered important to follow by other Embassies. In simple terms, being followed by the greatest number of other Embassies could be a measure of importance. An alternative, Eigenvector centrality, provides a slightly more complex method of calculating importance within a network. This method gives greater value to connections from other important nodes than an equal number of connections from less important nodes. Using this method, the top ten influential embassies, amongst other DC based embassies, are shown below.
For those seeking to collaborate with other embassies, or develop strategies to engage the diplomatic community in DC this may be a useful starting point.
In addition to the relationships with other embassies, the Twitter data allows us to analyze all the users who choose to follow the Embassies in DC that have Twitter accounts.
The above picture shows the network created by individuals following different embassy accounts. The larger the circle, the more followers the account has. The lines connecting the nodes show the number of people that follow both the accounts on each side of the line. As seen in the graphic, the Embassy of Israel, the British Embassy, the Saudi Embassy, the UAE Embassy and the German Embassy are the top five embassies followed in this network. This graphic gives us a tangible idea of just how everyone is connected in the social media world which often seems abstract and difficult to comprehend.
Within this network of followers, there are approximately 280 Twitter accounts that follow more than 10 embassies. Looking at this group, we can make some observations about who follows embassies. Of these 280, 22 are embassy-affiliated accounts, 13 are diplomacy non-profits and media outlets such as Meridian International and the Diplomatic Courier, and 65 of the accounts are for hotels, passport services, and strategic communications firms that would be of service to diplomats and embassies. There are also 10 accounts from users who work in the diplomatic community and 8 accounts of students studying international affairs and related fields. Glancing at the profile data of this group, we can see that the majority of these accounts are based in Washington, DC and are interested in international affairs and diplomacy. A Wordle (right) shows the most popular words in the profile data. Put in the context of a two word semantic concept wordle, some familiar phrases appear – some coffee drinkers and grad students appear alongside the diplomatic community, international affairs cultural diplomacy and foreign policy.
The stated location of users who follow more than ten embassies provides another perspective. Washington DC is the most common location, but as the image below shows, users following more than 10 embassies claim to be located across the world. This speaks to one of the key challenges for any embassy engaged in e-diplomacy – How to optimize their engagement when their remit is frequently focused within geographic boundaries but the uses with which they engage are spread beyond those boarders.
In the first post we saw which embassies were using social media. In this post we have identified those with which embassies engage, providing information which could be useful in development of e-diplomacy strategy and, if gathered over time, evaluation.
First, we asked how many users embassies engage and looked at which the most followers. Knowing the number of followers of an account, by itself, is relatively low value tactical data. However, the comparison with other accounts in a similar position or fulfilling a similar role can at least give some context to the number.
Second, we have looked at those accounts run by embassies which are followed by the accounts of other embassies. When an embassy creates its list of priorities, the individual responsible for managing the Twitter account at another embassy may not initially be considered a key individual with which to engage. However, these embassy accounts can act as reach multipliers, facilitating the flow of information to users with an interest in international affairs (and related fields). As a result, building relationships with the other embassies via social media can allow both embassies to benefit from collaboration rather than adopting a competitive stance toward other.
Third, we looked at the extent to which followers of one Embassy account also followed other the accounts run by other embassies. Most individuals followed only one embassy, emphasizing the importance of the collaborative strategy above as a way of multiplying reaching. Their state location, along with one and two word, word clouds highlights the profile of those following ten or more embassies. Embassies may consider some of these groups or individuals as users to engage more frequently online or offline, where there is, for example, a common area of interest. This is not to say all these individuals that have shown some form of affiliation or affinity with the diplomatic community would be appropriate for all Embassies nor that embassies should charge ahead without further consideration of who they are engaging. It merely highlights that these individuals have expressed a specific interest and an embassy may benefit from further engagement activity or collaboration (online or offline) with some of these social media users.
Those familiar with Twitter know that the amount of messages or links tweeted can be overwhelming depending on how many people a user follows and how often those accounts tweet. As a result, data on followers is very interesting data that shows us how people are connected on Twitter, but still leaves some questions to be answered.
A lot of the messaging is probably missed and the probability of interaction between embassies and their followers is slim as people generally do not tweet directly at the embassy, and even if they do, the chance that the embassy tweets back and starts a conversation is slim based on a quick glance of the most recent tweets from each of the embassy accounts.
This type of disruptive metric is becoming an increasingly important part of diplomacy, through both strategy and evaluation. There is still a lot of research to be done regarding impact and strategy, but the above observations provide a basic landscape through which to understand how the platform is being used by those working in Washington DC. Further research will delve into the activities of a few specific countries across multiple platforms.
As J. Michael Waller (editor) notes in The Public Diplomacy Reader, the definition of public diplomacy has evolved over time and people view it in different ways. The link between all these definitions is that the audiences involved come from different cultures and backgrounds. Cultural diplomacy, by the very nature of the work, is done by many different organizations in many different sectors of a given country. Because cultural diplomacy encompasses so many different subcategories of diplomacy- arts diplomacy, educational exchanges, speaker series, etc.- there is a wide open field for those that can and do conduct these programs. This brings up a larger question of exactly who is considered a diplomat.
Like the definition of public diplomacy, the definition of who is a diplomat has also evolved over time. Of course everyone is going to have an opinion on where to draw the line between diplomat and non-diplomat, but I’d like to propose some questions in order to draw some rough boundaries. With the increase in the amount of people that can do and are doing diplomacy, there is the possibility, as Robert Albro suggests, of “interest-free cultural diplomacy”. People are more likely to engage if there is not a hidden interest or if the organization conducting the program is not affiliated with the government. These possibilities exist with the advent of new diplomats other than those belonging to the Foreign Service.
If you, or the organization you work for, represent a country and not a government are you a diplomat?
This question depends on the situation. You, as a singular person travelling abroad for pleasure, do not constitute a diplomat. If that were the case, then everyone who travels internationally would be considered a diplomat. That would be unproductive because then there would be no point to identifying organizations and people who are part of the Foreign Service as diplomatic representatives for a specific country. We would no longer need the Foreign Service Officer Test and we would no longer need the Foreign Service Institute. The sheer ubiquity of international travelers would diminish the value of having that position as a job. Everybody who travels internationally cannot be considered a diplomat even though each person would be representing a country.
However, as part of an organization, there is a possibility that you could be considered a diplomat depending on the type of organization and the nature of the work you are doing. An Armenian NGO called OST Armenia-Cultural Center of the East, acts as a cultural representative for Armenia with countries of the East according to their website. Their “About the Organization” section says that they are funded by “membership dues, donations and sponsorship funding.” From their website, it seems that they are not affiliated with the government of Armenia and are truly committed to advancing cultural diplomacy initiatives. In this case, people who work for this organization are doing the same type of work that we traditionally consider diplomats to do; thus I see no reason not to consider them diplomats. They are representing Armenia without representing the government, but are still conducting diplomatic work. Of course, there may be something in their operational policies that we are not aware of that links them to the Armenian government, but, for all intents and purposes, they are representing a country without representing a government and are on their way to conducting interest-free cultural diplomacy. .
If your organization is not representing or promoting a country then are you still a diplomat by virtue of working for/ representing this other type of organization internationally?
A related question that needs to be addressed in partnership with the above one is: What kind of organization does not represent/ promote a country? Many people will argue, and correctly so, that even if the organization is a true NGO, the country that the organization is based in is still going to be somehow represented. The challenge in this question is finding a truly international organization. For purposes of this discussion, I have chosen Greenpeace. According to their website, Greenpeace was founded by a group of Canadian citizens, is currently headquartered in Amsterdam, and has 2.8 million supporters worldwide and regional offices in 41 countries. In this case, Greenpeace is promoting a cause, not a country, and does not represent a government. Having its headquarters in a different country than where it was founded takes away that problem of the country still being reflected within the organization. So here is an organization that has essentially no ties to government or country, yet they are doing international work. Does this make the organization and its members diplomats? Due to the lack of ties to a country or government, they come even closer to Albro’s interest-free diplomacy idea, but is their work really diplomacy?
To me, the crux of public diplomacy is creating the space for dialogues which hopefully lead to relationship building. Greenpeace’s website says that their “solutions work promotes open, informed debate about society’s environmental choices, and involves industries, communities and individuals in making change happen.” I think they reach the dialogue state of public diplomacy, but I don’t know whether or not they reach they state of building partnerships.
Where do non-government organizations that are contracted by the government or partially funded by the government fit into this?
There are many examples of organizations doing diplomacy that are not government entities but are still funded, at least partially, by a government. These organizations do not really reach the notion of interest-free diplomacy and are not really NGOs, but fall somewhere in between. They do diplomacy such as exchanges, arts diplomacy tours, and more, and so the people of these organizations are diplomats by the nature of their work.
To reach Albro’s interest-free diplomacy, do you have to be independent or just come across as independent?
L’Alliance Française purports to be independent even though it really isn’t (see the official charter, in French but translatable) but you have to do some serious digging to discover this. The average person is not going to go to through the founding documents and will only see the website for their local chapter such as this one for L’Alliance DC which says that “L’Alliance Française de Washington, D.C. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-governmental organization that is not subsidized by the French government. It is an educational, cultural association headed by a Franco-American Board of directors.” Therefore, the organization comes across as independent without actually being independent. There is no question that that they are doing cultural diplomacy activities, but it is very much a projection of the French government. As Albro notes, interest-free cultural diplomacy often engages more people because they do not see it as a government trying to push its views on others. To most people, L’Alliance and other examples, such as the British Council and Goethe Institute, appear to be furthering the goals of their respective nations while being less-affiliated with government than other government organizations such as the Foreign Ministry. While this is not exactly interest-free, it is getting closer.
In summary, NGOs can be invaluable resources when it comes to public diplomacy measures. NGOs can range on a sliding scale from interest free to closely associated with a government. Depending on where they fall on this scale, they are free to express alternative views and have more freedom with their online presence, official statements, and programming efforts. This helps to reach a broader audience that may or may not agree with the views of a given country’s government, but may still be interested in that country’s culture. NGOs potentially have the power to reach an audience that may have been absent from the discussion when governments were solely involved in diplomacy. Depending on the context and the work of the organization, people and their organizations can be diplomats without being part of a country’s official government initiatives. However, one must be careful when considering NGOs to be interest-free.
The recent Twitter row between the United States and Egypt triggered a number of issues – freedom of expression; the role of media in modern societies; the balance between diplomacy and public diplomacy; between interests and values, both ours and theirs; and the ability to communicate not just governments but populations using traditional channels and social media. It represents a great teachable moment, for students (and professors) of public diplomacy and practitioners as well.
To briefly recap, the Morsi government (along with conservative elements within Egyptian society) has been cracking down on more and more political speech. The U.S. expressed concern privately, and then publicly following the detention of political satirist Bassem Youssef, Egypt’s Jon Stewart. Everything got amped up when the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, perhaps the most aggressive user of social media within the Department of State, tweeted a link to a segment about Youssef’s arrest by the real Jon Stewart.
The Egyptian government blasted back, on Twitter no less, criticizing the Embassy for its “negative political propaganda.” Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party piled on, calling the offending tweet “undiplomatic & unwise.”
The Embassy’s Twitter account was taken down, the link to the Jon Stewart removed and then brought back on line. The Egyptian government claims American Ambassador Anne Patterson apologized for the incident. The State Department has tried to say as little as possible about the whole flap, but apparently sees the posting of the Stewart clip as a mistake.
What should we make of all of this?
In Egypt’s transition from dictatorship to democracy, it is hardly surprising that political Islam and civil society are struggling to comfortably co-exist. The Morsi government claims it was not responsible for Youssef’s detention, although someone in authority was. Beyond government, under Egyptian law, anyone can sue over perceived offensive speech. Just this week, an Egyptian court dismissed a lawsuit by an Islamist lawyer that would have forced Youssef’s show off air. After his release, Youssef resumed his broadcast, seemingly unbowed.
Clearly, a necessary debate within Egypt and across the Arab world about democracy, the evolution of political Islam and the development of inclusive and tolerant civil societies is underway.
The United States has been drawn into this debate, significantly through Twitter and Facebook. For example, Embassy Cairo has engaged Egyptians of all stripes on these issues. They are all unhappy with the United States, but for different reasons, believing Washington has been too lenient on Morsi, too critical, or should have no opinion at all.
Spend some time on the Embassy Twitter feed, @USEmbassyCairo, and you see what digital public diplomacy can do. Its tweets are engaging, candid and direct. Some samples:
In the past, such conversations would occur in quiet settings involving mostly government officials and policy elites. Now exchanges are out in the open, with newly empowered citizens offering their views and hoping for a genuine dialogue.
If this is the future of public diplomacy, Embassy Cairo is a trendsetter. Its recent experience demonstrates both the potential and the risk regarding how it is employed. Social media have greatly expanded public diplomacy’s reach, where actions and reactions can quickly take on broader political and social significance.
Embassy Cairo knows this better than anyone. Last September, an attempt to mitigate Egyptian outcry (and aggressive demonstrations) over an obscure American video perceived as being disrespectful of Islam became an issue in the American presidential campaign.
What are the public diplomacy lessons in this latest case?
There was a “practice what we preach” aspect to The Daily Show link. Stewart pokes fun at both Democratic and Republican political figures. Stewart highlights Egyptian contributions to modern society. He commends Morsi for assurances that political speech will be protected. He reminds that critics love their country every bit as much as leaders.
That said, it was probably inappropriate for the Embassy to link to the segment on its Twitter feed. Stewart calls Morsi a “crazy guy.” It’s inevitable that many would view it as official agreement.
While edgy works, this went too far, an “in your face” action at a sensitive time when the new Egyptian government was likely to overreact to any perceived slight.
But once the tweet was out there, connecting to publicly available content, the Embassy compounded its first mistake by removing the link. The Ambassador’s private apology with a pledge to avoid a repeat in the future was all that was needed. The removal sent precisely the wrong message that objectionable speech can and should be curtailed, a point Egypt made repeatedly during last September’s film controversy.
The retreat also sends the wrong message to the State Department’s global communicators. Ambassadors and public diplomats should be fully engaged in the vigorous debate about the critical issues of the day, not on the sidelines where it’s safe. They should be pushing the envelope, even if it means going over the line once in a while.
While integrating transformational technology into U.S. public diplomacy programs, mistakes inevitably will be made. How organizations react says a lot about what lessons will be learned.
GW School of Media and Public Affairs and Georgetown Adjunct Assistant Professor Bruce Gregory compiles an annotated bibliography of Public Diplomacy-related readings and other resources. Intended for teachers of public diplomacy and related courses, here is an update on resources that may be of general interest. Bruce Gregory Suggestions for future updates are welcome and should be directed to Bruce Gregory at BGregory@gwu.edu.
Intended for teachers of public diplomacy and related courses, here is an update on resources that may be of general interest. Suggestions for future updates are welcome.
Christina Archetti, Understanding Terrorism in the Age of Global Media: A Communication Approach, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). In a book that challenges conventional approaches to understanding the role of the media in terrorism studies, Archetti (University of Salford, UK) offers a new framework to explain ways “in which terrorism is socially constructed through communication.” Her book includes four areas of inquiry: (1) the role of communication, “more or less mediated by technologies,” in mobilizing terrorist groups in geographic and virtual contexts; (2) multidisciplinary perspectives on the relationship between terrorism and communication; (3) analysis of perceptions and stories that explain the way social actors mobilize and pursue political change; and (4) an understanding of the ways social networks affect scholarship and the need for greater self-awareness by researchers in the field.
G. R. Berridge, “A Weak Diplomatic Hybrid: U.S. Special Mission Benghazi, 2011-12,” January 2013. Berridge (Emeritus Professor, University of Leicester) provides a useful analysis of the history and confused character of the US Special Mission in Benghazi, reasons its “non-status” led to bureaucratic consequences that created security vulnerabilities, and insights into implications for diplomacy. His paper examines US Ambassador Chris Stevens’ role as an expeditionary diplomat and findings of the State Department’s Accountability Review Board. Berridge concludes that “diplomatic hybrids” will become a main feature of expeditionary diplomacy. Accordingly, it would be well to abandon the category of “temporary residential facility.” It sends the wrong signals to local populations and foreign ministries in both sending and receiving countries.
Edward Comer, “Digital Engagement: America’s Use (and Misuse) of Marshall McLuhan,” New Political Science, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2013, 1-18. Comer (University of Western Ontario) looks at the “use and misuse” of McLuhan’s “global village” and “the medium is the message” aphorism in the context of the Obama administration’s digital engagement and internet freedom initiatives. He argues that US use of digital technologies and strategies intended to “empower people and further inter-cultural understanding through dialogue” are dubious and “dangerously misguided.” He concludes that despite ambiguities in McLuhan’s work, it provides a useful foundation for analyzing assumptions in American policies.
Ian Hall and Frank Smith, “The Struggle for Soft Power in Asia: Public Diplomacy and Regional Competition.” Asian Security, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2013, 1-18. In this comparative analysis of investment by Asian states in public diplomacy, Hall and Smith (The Australian National University) use a mix of qualitative and quantitative evidence to suggest it has had “little or no positive effect on foreign public opinion.” Continued investment in public diplomacy absent evidence of effectiveness, they argue, turns on policymakers’ beliefs that “it is a consequential instrument of statecraft” and “an appropriate way to conduct diplomatic affairs.” They conclude public diplomacy in Asia’s competitive relationships “may deepen mistrust and increase the potential for hard-power conflict in the region.”
Jeffrey R. Halverson, Searching for a King: Muslim Nonviolence and the Future of Islam, (Potomac Books, 2012). Halverson (Arizona State University) explores narratives of nonviolence in the lives of five Muslims: Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Pashtun), Badshah Kahn (Syria), Mahmoud Muhammad Taha (Sudan), Muhammad ibn Mahdi al-Shirazi (Iraq), and Wahiduddin Khan (India). His book discusses themes of nonviolence in religion and society with extended inquiry into the possibilities for complementary approaches to microfinancing and women’s education programs. (Courtesy of Steve Corman)
Justin Hart, The Origins of Public Diplomacy and the Transformation of U.S. Foreign Policy, 1936-1953, Oxford University Press, 2012. Drawing extensively on government archives and the private papers of US officials, Hart (Texas Tech University) provides an account of the origins of American public diplomacy from the Buenos Aires Conference in 1936 to the creation of the US Information Agency in 1953. He places his narrative in the context of evolving foreign policy issues and the varying agendas and conceptual approaches of key players in the development of public diplomacy as an organized instrument of US statecraft. Hart’s book is particularly useful in its examination of the numerous tensions surrounding what was perceived by many as a “radical departure” in the conduct of foreign relations.
Falk Hartig, “Panda Diplomacy: The Cutest Part of China’s Public Diplomacy,” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, 8 (2013) 49-78. Hartig (Queensland University of Technology) explores the history and practice of panda diplomacy as a sub-set of a larger category of using animals as gifts in public diplomacy. His article focuses on the characteristics and objectives of China’s use of panda diplomacy in Canada, France, Taiwan, the Soviet Union and the United States.
Craig Hayden, “Envisioning a Multidisciplinary Research Agenda for Public Diplomacy,” e-International Relations, January 11, 2013. Hayden (American University) makes an informed case that larger issues underlying disparate public diplomacy concepts, goals, and modes of practice provide an array of research opportunities for students of international studies, communications, and other disciplines. His essay identifies challenges in public diplomacy research and singles out three broad areas of inquiry with particular merit: media studies and communication, diplomatic institutions, and transnational politics. “Public diplomacy as a field of study does not require a rigid theoretical template to flourish,” Hayden concludes, “but rather a broader audience for its relevance to pressing questions that scholars continue to grapple with at the borders of communication, international politics, and culture.”
Adam Hug, ed., Europe and the World: Can EU Foreign Policy Make an Impact? The Foreign Policy Centre, 2013. Scholars and practitioners look at how Europe is seen on the world stage, the effectiveness and organizational challenges facing the EU’s External Action Service (EEAS), the UK’s difficult relations with Europe, and other issues in EU diplomacy. The essay by Josef Batora (Comenius University) usefully analyzes the EEAS, not as a classic diplomatic service, but rather as an “organization spanning different fields and recombining external resources in innovative ways.” He argues that despite early difficulties, the EEAS “could soon set the standard.” The study includes contributions by Thiago de Aragão (Foreign Policy Centre), William Gumede (Foreign Policy Centre), Jacqueline Hale (Open Society Foundation), Richard Howitt MEP, Stefan Lehne (Carnegie Europe), Simon Lightfoot and Balazs Szent-Ivanyi (University of Leeds), Anand Menon (Kings College London), Rt. Hon. Sir Malcolm Rifkind KCMG, QC, MP, Edward Macmillian-Scott MEP, John Peterson (University of Edinburgh), Neil Winn (University of Leeds), and Rt. Hon. Douglas Alexander MP (Shadow Foreign Secretary).
“Inspection of the Broadcasting Board of Governors,” Office of the Inspector General, US Department of State, ISP-IB-13-07, January 2013. In a 23-page report, State Department inspectors assess and make recommendations relating to the legislative mandate, structure, and activities of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the independent Federal agency that oversees US Government civilian international broadcasting. They find the Board “is failing in its mandated duties” due to “a flawed legislative structure and acute internal dissension,” which render “its deliberative process ineffectual.” Recommendations include implementing a “chief executive officer position” and new policies on Board membership and activities.
Jane C. Loeffler, “Beyond the Fortress Embassy,” The Foreign Service Journal, December 2012, 20-27. Loeffler (architectural historian and author of The Architecture of Diplomacy: Building America’s Embassies, updated 2010) provides a critique of the remote and hardened US embassies built following the Inman Panel’s report on the Beirut Embassy and Marine barracks bombings in the 1980s and the “Standard Embassy Design” one-size-fits-all approach adopted by the State Department after 9/11. Look-alike fortress embassies project a negative image, isolate diplomats, and impair diplomacy. Loeffler hails the State Department’s recent turn to a “Design Excellence” initiative in the construction of embassies and consulates that are “maximally safe, secure, functional, and attractive.”
Emily T. Metzgar, Considering the “Illogical Patchwork”: The Broadcasting Board of Governors and U.S. International Broadcasting, CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, Paper 1, 2013. Metzgar (Indiana University) examines the role of US international broadcasting and issues relating to its leadership, organizational challenges, performance, and future. She concludes that difficulties in its management structure, relationships with Congress, and production of journalistic content “require meaningful action…sooner rather than later.”
Evgeny Morozov, “Not By Memes Alone: Why Social Movements Should Pay Less Attention to the Internet,” The New Republic, February 11, 2013, 47-52. In this review of Steven Johnson’s book, Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age,Morozov (a New Republic contributing editor) argues against the “Internet-centrism” of such thinkers as Johnson, Clay Shirky (Here Comes Everybody) and Yochai Benkler (Berkman Center for Internet and Society). Morozov makes a case for the role of hierarchies and centralizing strategies in the “long, slow, and painful” process of political reform. “Ideas on their own do not change the world,” he observes, “ideas that are coupled with smart institutions might. ‘Not by memes alone’ would be an apt slogan for any contemporary movement.”
Evgeny Morozov, To Save Everything Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism, (Public Affairs, 2013). In his earlier book,The Net Delusion, Morozov discussed the resilience of many authoritarian regimes and challenged “the means, not the ends, of the ‘Internet freedom agenda.’” His new book questions both the means and ends of Internet-centric strategies that promote “efficiency, transparency, certitude, and perfection” by seeking to eliminate “friction, opacity, ambiguity, and imperfection.” The latter are necessary to human freedom, he argues, and attempts “to root them out will root out that freedom as well.”
“Social Networking Popular Across the Globe: Arab Publics Most Likely to Express Political Views Online,” Pew Research Global Attitudes Project, December, 12, 2012. Pew’s 21-nation survey documents social networking’s rapid global spread, the “nearly ubiquitous” use of cellphones, and the popularity of these technologies among the young and well-educated. “Expressing opinions about politics, community issues and religion is particularly common in the Arab world.” Globally, pop culture and sports are popular. Fewer comment on their religious opinions.
– Stuart Murray (Bond University), “Moving Beyond the Ping Pong Table: Sports Diplomacy in the Modern Diplomatic Environment”
– Rook Campbell (University of Southern California), “Specifying the Global Character of Sports Authority”
– John Nauright (George Mason University), “Selling Nations to the World Through Sports: Mega Events and Nation Branding as Global Diplomacy”
– Andreia Soares e Castro (Technical University of Lisbon), “2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games: Brazil’s Strategy ‘To Win Hearts and Minds’ Through Football”
– Guo Qing (Chengdu Sport University) et al., “A Study on Chinese National Image Under the Background of Beijing Olympic Games”
– Lee Satterfield (US Department of State), “Smart Power: Using Sports Diplomacy to Build a Global Network to Empower Women and Girls”
– “The Pacific Century: An Interview with Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Tara Sonenshine”
Deborah Lee Trent, American Diaspora Diplomacy: U.S. Foreign Policy and Lebanese Americans, Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael,’ Discussion Paper in Diplomacy, No. 125, November 2012. Trent examines the US government’s diaspora diplomacy with Lebanese Americans, its relevance to US policies toward Lebanon, and two key challenges to US credibility among Lebanese and America’s Lebanese diaspora: “(1) lack of Arab-Israeli peace; and (2) lack of inclusive engagement with all of Lebanese society.” Her case study argues the potential of collaborative and trans-sectarian diaspora diplomacy for practitioners seeking to strengthen the credibility of US policies. Her paper adds to the growing academic literature on diaspora diplomacy.
US Government Accountability Office, Broadcasting Board of Governors: Additional Steps Needed to Address Overlap in International Broadcasting, GAO-13-172, January 2013. In this recent report, one of many on US international broadcasting, GAO examines the extent to which US language broadcasts overlap with each other and with language broadcasts by other international broadcasters. It found 23 instances of overlap involving 43 of 69 language services. GAO recommends (1) systematic annual review of the cost and impact of internal overlap among the services, and (2) systematic annual consideration of better ways to increase impact due to similar or complementary activities of US commercial broadcasters and other government broadcasters.
Matthew Wallin, The Challenges of the Internet and Social Media in Public Diplomacy, Perspective, American Security Project, February 2013. Wallin, a Senior Policy Analyst at ASP, takes a critical look at difficulties and possibilities facing public diplomacy practitioners in their uses of social media. Key judgments in his thoughtful overview: (1) Practitioners often do not fully appreciate the limitations of online tools. (2) Effective use of social media platforms is time and labor intensive. (3) Engagement through the internet and social media works best in association with real-world diplomacy. (4) Metrics should measure effect and influence as well as quantitative indicators of use. (5) Traditional radio and television “broadcast” mediums have considerable potential to be used interactively.
Ethan Watters, “We Aren’t the World,” Pacific Standard Magazine, February 25, 2013. Watters (author of Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche) discusses field research by UCLA anthropologist and MacArthur Foundation grant recipient Joe Henrich among indigenous people in Machiguenga, Peru and 14 other societies from Tanzania to Indonesia. Henrich’s behavioral experiment used a game comparable to “the prisoner’s dilemma” to investigate whether isolated cultures “shared with the West the same basic instinct for fairness” and the “same evolved rational and psychological hardwiring.” His research challenges fundamental assumptions that humans share the same cognitive machinery and conventional ideas about cultural diversity and the way we think about ourselves and others. (Courtesy of Vivian Walker.)
Robert Albro, “Collaborative/Creative Diplomacy/Partnerships,” The CPD Blog, Center on Public Diplomacy, University of Southern California, January 24, 2
Andrew F. Cooper, et al., “Does Diplomacy Need Star Power” [Celebrity Diplomacy], Room for Debate blog, The New York Times,March 17, 2013.
Jeanette Gaida, “The Use of Social Media in Public Diplomacy: Scanning e-diplomacy by Embassies in Washington, DC,” Take Five Blog, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, George Washington University, February 19, 2013.
Susan Gigli, “What is ‘Disruptive Metrics’”? Disruptive Metrics Blog, InterMedia, March 20, 2013.
Kim Elliott, “Repeal of Smith-Mundt Domestic Dissemination is Good Unless it Goes Over to the Dark Side,” January 3, 2013; “With Repeal of the Smith-Mundt Domestic Dissemination Ban. De Jure Catches Up with De Facto,” January 11, 2013, Kim Andrew Elliott’s International Broadcasting Blog.
Craig Hayden, “Uncovering Logics of Technology in U.S. Public Diplomacy,” The CPD Blog, Center on Public Diplomacy, University of Southern California, February 11, 2013.
Lindsey Horan, “Analyzing ‘Cultural Diplomacy in Africa’ Through the IR Positioning Spectrum,” Take Five Blog, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, George Washington University, March 20, 2013.
Kate Shriver, “Harlem Shake: Arab Spring Protest Edition,” Take Five Blog, Institution for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, March 25 2013.
R.S. Zarhana, “Culture Posts: Four Fallacies of Network Public Diplomacy,” The CPD Blog, Center on Public Diplomacy, University of Southern California, March 20, 2013.
W. Russell Neuman, The Future of the Mass Audience, (Cambridge University Press, 1991). More than two decades ago, before the worldwide web and internet browsers and well before Facebook and Twitter, Russ Neuman (University of Michigan) explored ways in which new electronic media and personal computers would lead to a “demassification” of the mass audience. Published just before he became director of the Edward R. Murrow Center at the Fletcher School, his book provided an early look at audience fragmentation, narrowcast media, the psychology of media use, and the interplay between technology and political culture. Although events have challenged some of his forecasts that economics of scale would “put natural constraints on special-interest, small-audience programming,” his book nevertheless was ahead of its time and a gem from the past.
Current compilations of Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites are posted at Arizona State University’s COMOPS Journal, George Washington University’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy. For previous compilations of Public Diplomacy: Books, Articles, Websites, visit Matt Armstrong’s MountainRunner.us website and an archive created by the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy.