JB note: While I am all in favor of scholarship, I am quite skeptical of academics who have never actually "gotten their hands dirty" in practicing public diplomacy (PD) "in the field" who theorize (and, especially, teach) about it.
My sense is that U.S. PD -- not that complicated, after all -- is an activity that requires an appreciation of other cultures/languages (seldom acquired at insular American universities); the ability to share ideas with local interlocutors; tact; and good manners.
Such elementary principles have not necessarily been promoted by ivory-tower tenure-seeking/protecting academics, eager to create yet another "science" of their choosing.
(I know of one ex-Senior Fellow at the USC Center for Public Diplomacy who, in the best tradition of Stalin's kill-the-potential opposition, was stripped of his non-paying honorary position, for no apparent reason).
If only life were that simple (or should I say complicated). ...
My advice, for what it's worth, for Americans, young or old, wishing to serve their country as best they can in "public diplomacy": Travel abroad; get work experience before joining the Foreign Service (it might help you pass the entrance exam); really speak languages other than English; and, above all, don't take yourself too seriously and -- what they, perhaps, don't usually teach you in "PD" grad school -- expect the unexpected. (Especially from arrogant academics).
This does not require an expensive "MA" in Public Diplomacy. Just common sense, acquired by experience and, above all, humility.
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