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f_0023444_19186 - Public Diplomacy: At the Crossroads...

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The Ambassadors REVIEW 46 Public Diplomacy: At the Crossroads Between Practitioner and Theorist Michelle A. Lee, Ph.D. Kathryn W. Davis Public Diplomacy Fellow, 2010-2011 Disclaimer : The views expressed in this article are the author’s own views and not necessarily those of the Department of State or the US Government. e who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.” Many educators would bristle at least a little bit at this statement, originally penned by George Bernard Shaw in his work, Maxims for Revolutionists . While the divide between practitioners and theorists in various subjects is long-standing, it has never been more apparent in the field of public diplomacy than today. This is partly attributable to the fact that the formal academic study of public diplomacy is a relatively new undertaking. Increasingly in the past decade, academics, independent analysts, councils, and commissions dedicated to US public diplomacy have produced numerous articles, blogs, publications, and reports, often focusing on the weakness of American public diplomacy. Many include recommendations on ways to improve the US government’s efforts to engage foreign publics around the world. The extent to which these analyses are read by actual practitioners of public diplomacy is unknown; anecdotally, I venture the guess that few active field practitioners have the time to read much of the published academic literature on the subject of public diplomacy. Moreover, a good deal of this published material is not particularly relevant to the day-to-day work of a practitioner. Some practitioners complain that public diplomacy theorists are off-base, do not understand realities on the ground at our posts around the world, and do not engage in meaningful dialogue with practitioners when they conduct research. In some cases, these complaints are justifiable. While practitioners are reluctant to concur with academic critiques of American public diplomacy, however, they are quick to commiserate with one another about any number of internal deficiencies: lack of staffing, inadequate training, dwindling budgets, poor communication between field posts and the leadership in Washington, and so on. Yet these are issues that are in fact raised in a number of publications on public diplomacy authored by non-practitioners. The relationship between public diplomacy practitioners and academics should be a natural one, generally speaking. After all, one of the key audiences with which public diplomacy officers (and cultural affairs officers, in particular) traditionally engage in the field are elite academics of the host country. It is back home, in the United States, where the linkages between public diplomacy practitioners and their academic counterparts are somewhat more fractured. I recently attended a panel organized by the Public Diplomacy Council, which convened several former practitioners who now draw upon their experiences to teach students pursuing degrees related to public diplomacy. In the audience were mid-level public diplomacy officers currently serving in the US Foreign Service. “H
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This note was uploaded on 01/25/2012 for the course COMM 321 taught by Professor Erinmcclellan during the Spring '11 term at Boise State.

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f_0023444_19186 - Public Diplomacy: At the Crossroads...

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