The conversation that appears in the comments of the post was originally an email exchange that began on May 20, 2009. The spark was Craig Hayden’s Public Diplomacy and the Phantom Menace of Theory, which was a response to Pat Kushlis’s Detroit on the Potomac. None of the comments have accurate timestamps as they were manually copied from email and inserted as comments. However, they do appear in correct chronological — and rhetorical — order. All comments appear here with the permission of the respective authors are are posted here to continue the discourse in public. Add your voice. –MCA
Craig Hayden, Thanks for your recent excellent piece on the academic study of PD. It think it contributes much to the debate of theory vs. practice in PD. I hope it will be widely read. Have you considered submitting it to “American Diplomacy,” which is published by ex-FSOs? My main quarrel with much of the “scholarship” re PD, which Pat Kushlis critiques so well, is that it often misses a key element in PD — what PD officers (or whatever you want to call them) concretely do “in the field” and the day-to-day issues that they face. That is why, in the case of PD, I find memoirs, history and media reporting often more enlightening that abstract treatises. We are not, after all, dealing with rocket science here, but with a down-to-earth, all-too-human activity. As you point out, there’s no PD “theory.” Also, I am concerned that people who want to “do PD” as a career might think that “a degree in PD” is sufficient to be an effective PD practitioner (I realize that is not what academic courses on PD “promise”). Of course, nothing wrong with being a PD “scholar,” but based on my FSO experience what is most helpful in preparing to be an effective “public diplomat,” at least for the US government, is learning foreign languages in depth, familiarity with cultures overseas, and people-to-people skills that are not necessarily acquired in the classroom or by research in libraries/on the Internet.