One thought on “Report on the Smith-Mundt Symposium

  1. Dear Matt and other readers,The report on the January Smith-Mundt symposium is welcome and well done, as I hope others have already responded. Having attended almost the entire symposium, the experience was meaningful to me in several ways. The main reason was that the effort to get people who are engaged in PD was effective and provocative.
    The symposium (maybe because it was very well publicized, maybe because it included a free lunch, and most probably because Matt has the energy and skill of…well…a mountain runner) attracted a diverse audience and many participated vocally. Despite the large number of participants, there was a rich variety of views expressed in the dialogue. The set-up of the symposium (no PPT, a carefully crafted agenda, time-minding, and professionally diverse panelists) fostered dialogue from which a “social construction” of the Smith-Mundt Act and future action to improve it can emerge.
    The symposium and report exemplify how Smith-Mundt and public diplomacy writ large benefit from structured, but inclusive dialogue. The symposium worked because (a lot of) the people who work on PD, and (some of) the people who care about it in civil society attended, both U.S. citizens and from abroad (although fewer).
    I look forward to more large and small-scale — inclusive — discussions about PD and Smith-Mundt. Through these kinds of public discussions among knowledgable, engaged people, collaborative responses to tough questions can and will emerge.
    Some have probably posed follow-up questions for future face-to-face dialogue. My nominations would be: How might the Smith-Mundt Act be reconstructed to accommodate the convergence (thanks to IT and the accelerating movement of people) of the foreign and domestic public spheres? More broadly, from the Smith-Mundt symposium (and I hope future symposia like that one!) responses to a basic, related question can emerge: How might the Department of State and other agencies with “foreign” relations functions be better organized and coordinated for the governance of “international” relations and security that overlap increasingly with “domestic” politics and governance?
    Thanks to Matt and all the panelists and participants.
    Debbie Trent

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