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Geo-Social Mapping of the International Communications Environment or Why Abdul Isn't Listening

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The paper suggests a radical redefinition of public diplomacy, asserting its primary role should be to stimulate the imagination of those who make a difference within their own cultures — to give them the means and motivation to address the global requirements of the 21st century, therein enhancing security for the sponsoring nations. Public diplomats also have an ancillary role in supporting other elements of international engagement, including promoting foreign investment, new energy resources, developmental assistance, education, medicine, and law.

A three-point agenda for reforming the conduct of public diplomacy is proposed: reach beyond short-term parochial interests by providing knowledge to the curious, the innovative, and the restless. Hold public diplomats responsible for enabling connectivity and serving as cultural interpreters. Recruit and train artists, scholars, and scientists as public diplomats to engage actively in indigenous social networks.

The article concludes by citing famed American journalist and former distinguished director of USIA, Edward R. Murrow: "There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference." To join this battle, public diplomacy can best honor its past by rethinking its future.

Affiliations: 1: School of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University, 805 21st Street NW, Washington DC 20052, United States


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