Sunday, June 19, 2016

Quotable: James Stavridis on Public Diplomacy at the Fletcher School; see also.

Friday, June 17th 2016

Image (not from entry), with caption: Dean Stavridis with his basset hound, Lilly.
In a recent letter to the President of the Public Diplomacy Council, the Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, retired Admiral James Stavridis, reviewed their teaching of Public Diplomacy.  For all the details, see Admiral Stavridis’s letter.  Here are some highlights:

  • Our activities and research concerning public diplomacy are in fact being expanded to respond to the demands of our students and the global needs of the times.

  • The Edward R. Murrow Center has been reinvigorated and re-named the Edward R. Murrow Center for a Digital World:  Cyber, Media, Public Diplomacy.

  • The center historically focused on public diplomacy and on the reporting of foreign affairs.  The new emphasis on digital matters was done to respond to the fundamental change in international relations and public diplomacy caused by the digital information revolution and the emergence of the new dimension of cyberspace. 

  • The cultural, communications and person-to-person missions remain vital, and we teach about them.  But the information environment has changed.  In an increasingly networked world, in which private and public international information flows are so powerful and jnoisy that the U.S. government struggles to be heard effectively, the lines between what constitutes public and other forms of diplomacy is blurry and presents new challenges.

  • . . . courses include popular skills courses on how to use different media and forms of communication to influence the public debate, including very specific courses on crisis management, on measuring and modeling communications policy, and on communicating political economy matters. 

  • In addressing public diplomacy, we also have more traditional academic courses on counter-terrorism, on social networks, on digital citizenship and development, on international communication, and on cultural issues and intellectual property.   And then there are our many core courses on diplomacy and statecraft.  Indeed, “Diplomacy, History and Politics” remains one of the school’s three academic divisions. 

  • Meanwhile, Fletcher continues to host an annual State Department fellow who by design comes with an explicit public diplomacy background.  A separate public diplomacy course that focuses on practical issues in the field is sometimes taught by these fellows, based on student demand.  The course has had modest enrollment in recent years. 

  • It is the mission of the Fletcher School as a thought leader and teaching center to best study how governments should respond.  In doing so, the school is following in the tradition of innovation of Dean Ed Gullion, who coined the term of public diplomacy, and of Edward R. Murrow himself, who helped lead the American media and government into, first, radio, and then television.  Murrow and Gullion led the way for their era.  We are sure that they would agree with what we are doing for ours.

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