PublicDiplomacy.org subscriptions

Public Diplomacy Amidst Fake News Explored at Sept. 25 PDAA Lunch

Matryoshka dolls

(Jacqueline Macou, Pixabay)

(Updated 23 September 2017) Reservations are now closed.

Fake News and Disinformation:  we cannot watch the news, surf the Internet, or even carry on a social conversation without hearing the words.  Whether from U.S. political leaders and spokespersons, foreign governments, media figures, violent extremists, “tweeters” “bloggers,” or bots, we face an almost-constant onslaught of fake news, “alternative facts,” or disinformation.  Sifting fact from fiction has become increasingly challenging for citizens needing accurate information in order to make informed decisions.  Many have said that fake news and disinformation are among the gravest threats facing our democracy.

Yet difficult as they are for citizens of the United States and other democracies, fake news and disinformation pose an even greater challenge to diplomacy, and particularly to public diplomacy.   How can today’s public diplomacy professionals—whose job it is to explain the United States and U.S. policy and seek to persuade the citizens and governments of other countries to support those policies—do their jobs in the face of this omnipresent fake news and disinformation?

Susan Stevenson

Susan Stevenson, at PDAA lunch program (A. Kotok)

To help us answer this question, PDAA was very fortunate to have three senior State Department officials as speakers at our first luncheon of the 2017-2018 program year.  Susan Stevenson is Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of State.  A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, she previously served in Washington as the Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Director of the Under Secretary’s Office of Policy, Planning and Resources, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Director of the Foreign Press Centers.  Overseas, Ms. Stevenson was the U.S. Consul General in Chiang Mai, Thailand, following assignments in Beijing, Hong Kong, Mexico City and Bangkok.  She has lectured extensively on government-media relations and holds degrees in multinational management and French from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Jonathan Henick

Jonathan Henick, at PDAA lunch program (A. Kotok)

Jonathan Henick, a member of the Senior Foreign Service, currently serves as Acting Coordinator for International Information Programs. He served previously as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary and Director for Press and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau for South and Central Asian Affairs where he was responsible for the conduct of U.S. public diplomacy in 13 countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.  He has also served overseas as the Counselor for Public Affairs in Turkey, the Deputy Chief of Mission in Timor-Leste, as well as in other positions in Azerbaijan, Turkey, Portugal, and Uzbekistan.  He has worked as a Public Diplomacy Fellow and Professor at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs and as a visiting Research Fellow and Diplomat-in-Residence at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.  He has received the Public Diplomacy Alumni Association Achievement Award, as well as individual Superior Honor Awards from the State Department.  Originally from New York, he speaks Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, and Azerbaijani, and holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Hawaii and a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University.

Adele Ruppe

Adele Ruppe, at PDAA lunch program (A. Kotok)

Adele Ruppe is Chief of Staff in the Global Engagement Center.  Previously, she served as Public Diplomacy Office Director for the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR); Deputy Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the embassy in New Delhi, India; Counselor for Public Affairs at the embassy in Brasilia, Brazil; and Senior Special Assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.  Other assignments include Madrid, Moscow, Mexico City, San Jose (Costa Rica), and EUR’s Front Office.  She has a BS in Computer Science from Duke University, a MBA from the University of Michigan, and a MS from the National Defense University.

This important and stimulating program took place on Monday, September 25, from 12:00 to 2:00, at DACOR Bacon House, 1801 F St., NW.

*     *     *

Please share PublicDiplomacy.org ...

State and Art of Digital Diplomacy Explored at Monday Forum

Working at a computer

(Stux, Pixabay)

(15 August 2016). The state and art of digital diplomacy is the focus of the next First Monday Forum, set for Monday, 11 September 2017 beginning at 12:00 noon, at American Foreign Service Association in Washington, D.C. (The actual first Monday in September is the Labor Day holiday.)

On the date exactly 16 years after 9-11, the discussion will examine new methods needed to communicate effectively in a digital environment. An expert panel of public diplomacy practitioners and technologists will explore this question:

  • Matt Chessen, Senior Technology Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of State
  • Jennifer Lambert, Deputy Director of Analytics, International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State
  • Luke Peterson, Director of Analytics, International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State
  • Lovisa Williams, Digital Strategist, PD’s Office of Policy, Planning, and Resources, U.S. Department of State

Shawn Powers, Executive Director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, will serve as moderator

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, joined for the first time by PDAA, an association of public diplomacy professionals. The event takes place on Monday, 11 September 2017, 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: FirstMondayForum.RSVP@gmail.com.

*     *     *

Please share PublicDiplomacy.org ...

Education and Public Diplomacy Explored in August Monday Forum

Students taking selfies

(ECA.State.gov)

(22 July 2017) Public diplomacy in education at the state and local levels will be the focus of the next First Monday Forum. The event takes place on Monday, 7 August, beginning at 12:00 noon, at American Foreign Service Association in Washington, D.C.

While public diplomacy is planned and funded by nations, its actual practice is often carried out by states and localities, particularly in the schools. The discussion will be led by Phil Noble, a technology entrepreneur and civic sector activist, as well as fellow at the Institute of Politics of the John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University. He also serves on various advisory and editorial boards at ten other colleges and universities in the U.S. and internationally.

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, 7 August 2017, 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: FirstMondayForum.RSVP@gmail.com.

*     *     *

Please share PublicDiplomacy.org ...

U.S. Image Under Trump Declines Sharply

Low global confidence in Trump leads to lower ratings for U.S.
(1 July 2017) According to a new Pew Research Center survey spanning 37 nations, Donald Trump’s presidency has had a major impact on how the world sees the United States. Trump and many of his key policies are broadly unpopular around the globe, and ratings for the U.S. have declined steeply in many nations. Excerpts from the report follow.

A median of just 22 percent has confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs. This stands in contrast to the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency, when a median of 64 percent expressed confidence in Trump’s predecessor to direct America’s role in the world. The sharp decline in how much global publics trust the U.S. president on the world stage is especially pronounced among some of America’s closest allies in Europe and Asia, as well as neighboring Mexico and Canada. Across the 37 nations polled, Trump gets higher marks than Obama in only two countries: Russia and Israel.

In countries where confidence in the U.S. president fell most, America’s overall image has also tended to suffer more. In the closing years of the Obama presidency, a median of 64 percent had a positive view of the U.S. Today, just 49 percent are favorably inclined toward America. Again, some of the steepest declines in U.S. image are found among long-standing allies.

Even though the 2017 shift in views of the U.S. and its president is in the opposite direction compared with eight years ago, publics on balance are not necessarily convinced that this will affect bilateral relations with the U.S. The prevailing view among the 37 countries surveyed is that their country’s relationship with the U.S. will be unchanged over the next few years. Among those who do anticipate a change, however, more predict relations will worsen, rather than improve.

Confidence in President Trump is influenced by reactions to both his policies and his character. With regard to the former, some of his signature policy initiatives are widely opposed around the globe.

Trump’s character is also a factor in how he is viewed abroad. In the eyes of most people surveyed around the world, the White House’s new occupant is arrogant, intolerant and even dangerous. Among the positive characteristics tested, his highest rating is for being a strong leader. Fewer believe he is charismatic, well-qualified or cares about ordinary people.

While the new U.S. president is viewed with doubt and apprehension in many countries, America’s overall image benefits from a substantial reservoir of goodwill. The American people, for instance, continue to be well-regarded – across the 37 nations polled, a median of 58 percent say they have a favorable opinion of Americans. U.S. popular culture, likewise, has maintained appeal abroad, and many people overseas still believe Washington respects the personal freedoms of its people.

The Pew Research Center survey conducted the surveys among 40,448 respondents in 37 countries outside the U.S. from February 16 to May 8, 2017.

Obama received much higher ratings at the end of his presidency than Trump gets today
More about the surveys:

*     *     *

Please share PublicDiplomacy.org ...

VOA Origins Examined in July Monday Forum

Walter Roberts

Walter Roberts in an early Voice of America broadcast (U.S. government, public domain)

(17 June 2017) The roots of Voice of America reach back to World War II, which will be the subject of the next First Monday Forum. The event takes place on Monday, 10 July at beginning at 12:00 noon, at American Foreign Service Association in Washington, D.C.

The session features a conversation with historian Holly Cowan Shulman, a visiting research professor at University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Shulman is the author of The Voice of America: Propaganda and Democracy, 1941-1945, published by University of Wisconsin Press. She is also editor of the Dolley Madison Digital Edition, and founding director of Documents Compass at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

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, 10 July 2017, 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: FirstMondayForum.RSVP@gmail.com.

*     *     *

Please share PublicDiplomacy.org ...

Culture-Education Diplomacy Awardees Named for 2017

Lois Roth drawing

(Lois Roth Endowment)

(10 June 2017). The Lois Roth Endowment named its winners of this year’s achievement awards for cultural and educational diplomacy at a ceremony on 31 May. The awards were announced by Skyler Arndt-Briggs, chair of the Lois Roth Endowment, and Rick Ruth, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State Department’ Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, or ECA, that takes part in the awards process.

Priscilla Hernandez, Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela received the 2017 Lois Roth Award for excellence in cultural diplomacy, that goes to a current Foreign Service Officer. An e-mail from the organization notes …

Priscilla’s fourteen-year career has exemplified mentoring new colleagues; maximizing American Spaces, English-language programs and Alumni networks to reach new audiences; serving in challenging public diplomacy environments; and utilizing technology to achieve U.S. foreign policy goals.  These attributes, combined with her extreme dedication to cross-cultural understanding, her warmth towards people of all backgrounds, and her encouragement of women to overcome all obstacles that lie in their way, make Priscilla Hernandez the perfect recipient of the 2017 Lois Roth Award.

The honorable mention awardee for the Lois Roth Award is Damian Wampler, Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia.

A similar award, known as the Gill Jacot-Guillarmod Award for locally-engaged staff, people working at embassies and consulates from the host countries, goes this year to Basma Amawi, Senior Cultural Assistant of the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan. The citation says …

She is recognized for, among many other notable achievements, her unsurpassed networks of exchange program grantees, from grassroots organizations to the Royal Court, and particularly her ability to rearrange programs on the fly to maximize impact when circumstances suddenly change.  2017 Gill-Jacot Guillarmod Award goes to Basma Amawi for the thousands of programs she has created and enriched.

Honorable mention recipients for the Gill-Jacot Guillarmod Award are Marcia Mizuno, Cultural Specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil, and Quynh Ngo, Cultural Specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam.

This year’s Ilchman-Richardson Award that honors an ECA staff member’s contributions goes to David Plack, Senior Advisor for Policy, Academic Programs. The award citation notes …

Over the past dozen years, no single individual has done more to create new international educational initiatives; to engage with Congress for funding of special academic exchanges; and to uphold the U.S. national interest in complex negotiations that ensure our higher education institutions’ ability to compete internationally.  David is renowned for his work ethic and intellect. He unfailingly shares his expertise and helps to educate colleagues about the values, premises and processes of ECA’s work.  He is richly deserving of recognition for his efforts through the Ilchman-Richardson award of the Lois Roth Endowment.

The Lois Roth Endowment is a foundation that honors the life and work of Lois Wersba Roth by promoting and encouraging dialogue across national, linguistic, disciplinary, and cultural boundaries, focusing on countries that were especially important to Lois in her life and career.

*     *     *

Please share PublicDiplomacy.org ...