Russian Info War and Digital Media to be Explored

DACOR-Bacon House

(DACOR-Bacon House)

(18 October 2016). A lunch-time discussion on Wednesday, 26 October at DACOR-Bacon House in Washington, D.C. examines Russia’s use of digital media in Western societies. The discussion will be led by Miika Tomi, a Fulbright Scholar at Georgetown University.

The program is titled, “Does the truth matter in the age of digital media?” In the new era of citizen journalism, the masses have been empowered to produce and receive information. As a result, the credibility of the government to present objective views and the traditional media to act as a gatekeeper has diminished. Especially Russia has championed a modern version of decentralized information warfare to solidify domestic support and cause disunity abroad.

Can authoritarian foreign governments take the use of the openness of the western liberal democracies and even manipulate events like the US Presidential elections? If yes, what can foreign policy professionals do to combat modern propaganda tools?

Miika Tomi is a Fulbright Scholar at Georgetown University M.S. in Foreign Service program. He previously served as the spokesperson for the Prime Minister and the Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade of Finland. He has studied at Sciences Po Paris, London School of Economics and University of Tampere and worked in Beijing, Kolkata, Nairobi and London in addition to being deployed to Chad as a UN and EU peacekeeper.

The event takes place on Wednesday, 26 October, at DACOR-Bacon House, 1801 F Street NW, in Washington, D.C., beginning at 12:00 pm.  Reservations including lunch are $25.00 and required in advance. Please call 202-682-0500 or e-mail to

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PD Council Seeks Public Diplomacy Images

Photography class

Photography class at University of the Arts in Havana, Cuba. January 2013 (A. Kotok)

(16 October 2016) The Public Diplomacy Council is launching its first photography contest, to capture visual portrayals of public diplomacy in action. There is no entrance fee for the Images of Public Diplomacy contest, and deadline for entries is 30 January 2017.

“This exhibition will express the meaning, impact and significance of public diplomacy through striking images,” says Adam Clayton Powell III, president of the Public Diplomacy Council in an e-mail statement. “We think it will open new understanding about how nations conduct international relations in the 21st century.”

Public Diplomacy Council is opening the contest to anyone with photos they’ve taken related to the conduct of public diplomacy. U.S. as well as foreign photographers are invited to take part, including diplomats, embassy staff, academics, students, visual media specialists, cultural and education exchange participants, photographers, business people, and journalists.

Entries may be in color or in black and white, and all genres of images are welcome. Participants may enter up to three photos in high-quality JPG format. The contest rules give specific image size, file size, captioning, and file naming requirements. All images submitted must be the intellectual property of the entrants, but copyright and all other rights will remain those of the photographer.

Public Diplomacy Council will exhibit the images on its web site, although a printed photo exhibit is under consideration. A three-person jury will judge the images in categories of people, places, and actions. Photos will be judged on criteria of creativity, originality, interest, artistic quality, and overall impression of the photograph.

Images will be accepted via e-mail at The deadline for submissions in 30 January 2017.

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Monday Forum Explores U.S.-Asia Connections

Students learn origami

American students learning origami, or paper folding, in a Japanese cultural festival at Boston University in November 2015 (Boston University,

(24 September 2016) The next First Monday Forum features a discussion with Michael Gilligan, president of the Henry Luce Foundation on connecting the U.S. and Asia. The event takes place on Monday, 3 October 2016 at 12:00 noon, but at a different location than usual: Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities. The organization was founded in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., to honor his parents who were missionary educators in China.

Gilligan joined the foundation in 1998 as its program director for theology, and became its president in 2002. Before joining the Henry Luce Foundation, he served at the Association of Theological Schools, academic dean of the Pontifical College Josephinum, and as teacher and administrator in the Catholic Diocese of Columbus. He received a B.A. from Duke University and a M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia.

First Monday Forums are a joint project of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, and Public Diplomacy Council. The event takes place on Monday, 3 October at 12 noon. Please note the different location than usual: Elliott School of International Affairs, Lindner Family Commons, 602 1957 E Street NW, Washington, D.C.

The event is free, but advance registrations by e-mail are required:

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Public Diplomacy in 1970s Examined in Monday Forum

John Reinhardt and Walter Mondale

John Reinhardt, right, after being sworn in as Director of the International Communication Agency by Vice-President Walter Mondale in 1977. (Department of State)

(7 September 2016) The next First Monday Forum, set for 12 September 2016, features a panel taking a new look public diplomacy in the 1970s. The discussion takes place at American Foreign Service Association in Washington, DC at 12:00 pm.

The panel includes Kristin Ahlberg, editor of Foreign Relations of the United States, 1977–1980, Volume XXX, that deals with public diplomacy. Also taking part is Nicholas Cull, professor of public diplomacy and founding director of the Master of Public Diplomacy program at University of Southern California. On the panel as well is Adam Howard, general editor of the Foreign Relations series in the State Department Office of the Historian. John Brown, editor of John Brown’s Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review, is the moderator.

First Monday Forums are a joint project of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, and Public Diplomacy Council. The event takes place on Monday, 12 September 2016, and begins at 12:00 pm at AFSA headquarters, 2101 E Street NW, Washington DC (Foggy Bottom metro). Sandwiches and refreshments will be served.

The event is free, but advance registrations by e-mail are required:

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U.S. Universities with Most International Students

(6 September 2016) Compliments of Statistica

Infographic: The Top U.S. Universities For International Students | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

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PD Inspections Examined at September 26 PDAA Lunch Program

Kenton Keith and Jeff Brown

Kenton Keith, left, and Jeff Brown answer questions from PDAA lunch participants, 26 September 2016. (A. Kotok)

(Updated 27 September 2016) PDAA launched its 2016-2017 program year hearing from two highly regarded public diplomacy experts discussing the current state of public diplomacy work around the world.

Ambassador Kenton Keith and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jeff Brown offered insights on public diplomacy challenges and successes, gleaned from their experiences inspecting embassy PD operations around the world, including an assessment of the long-term effects from the merger of USIA and State Department.

Entitled Inspecting Public Diplomacy – Challenges and Opportunities, the luncheon program was held on Monday, September 26, 2016 from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. at the DACOR-Bacon House, 1801 F St NW, Washington DC.

The Department of State’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) inspects each of the approximately 260 diplomatic posts, and international broadcasting installations throughout the world, as well as domestic bureaus, to determine whether policy goals are being achieved and whether the interests of the United States are being represented and advanced effectively.  Preparations for OIG visits and findings from inspection reports compel PD mission personnel to look critically at their operations and outcomes, and to make changes as necessary.

Recent OIG reports, for example, have highlighted major disinformation challenges facing public affairs staff in Iraq, significant management weaknesses in Tokyo and overly centralized operations in Mexico that are impeding effective public diplomacy operations.

Their careers span a long arc of change and innovation in public diplomacy operations and perspectives over almost half a century.  In retirement, both have inspected numerous overseas posts.

Ambassador Kenton Keith spent 33 years as a foreign service officer with the United States Information Agency, becoming an expert on Near East, North Africa and South Asian affairs.  He was ambassador to Qatar from 1992-1995.  He retired in 1977 after serving in many posts overseas and in Washington, receiving two Presidential meritorious service awards. Keith was recalled to service as special envoy to Islamabad in 2001. After retirement, he served as vice president at the Meridian Center until 2010, and continues to lecture and serve on many advisory boards and councils related to diplomacy, public affairs and international education.

Jefferson Brown retired in 2015 as the deputy assistant secretary for public diplomacy in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. From 2010 to 2013, he was deputy chief of mission at U.S. Embassy Buenos Aires, Argentina and at the U.S. Embassy in Quito, Ecuador from 2005 to 2008.  Brown was director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Center and the director of the Office of UNESCO Affairs.  Other overseas assignments include: minister counselor for press and cultural affairs in Mexico City; cultural attaché in Brazil; and press attaché in Paraguay, El Salvador, and Portugal. From 1995-97, he served as executive assistant to the counselor of the United States Information Agency.  He was director of the Foreign Press Center 1998 to 2000. From 1998 through 2000, he was a senior advisor in the State Department’s Office of Policy Planning, working on democracy initiatives.  Brown frequently lectures at the Foreign Service Institute on public diplomacy to PD and non-PD officers.

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