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Reforming American Public Diplomacy - A Report of the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Diplomacy and Technology

The Aspen Institute Dialogue on Diplomacy and Technology (ADDTech) convenes leaders from the sometimes disparate worlds of diplomacy and technology to address how new technological tools can be used better for public or citizen diplomacy around the world.

Monday, August 4, 2014

9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.            Session I.  Defining the Problem: The Case for Reinvention
We begin with a definition of the problem to be solved.  Undersecretary of State Richard Stengel will begin the session with his assessment of the current state of public diplomacy in the U.S. and what is needed going forward.  From this the group will discuss the goals of public diplomacy (e.g., persuading others of the U.S. positions, informing publics of true facts in journalistic style, making American values available for others to find, and/or empowering others to be effective citizens.)  How effective is the U.S. in achieving these goals?

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.         Session II.  Approaches for Reinvention
As the problems have emerged, so have a myriad of reports and calls for reform of the BBG, Department of State and other apparatus of public diplomacy, many of them summarized in the background readings.  This session will take a different tack.  It will call upon participants to re-invent public diplomacy as it should be.  Using a whiteboard, participants will offer what American public diplomacy should look like.

2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.             Session III.  Reinventing American Public Diplomacy: Identifying the Top Three Approaches
From the morning’s sessions, and initial presentations, participants will identify serious proposals for reforming the BBG and the State Department’s public diplomacy efforts that they can pursue in greater detail the next day. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

8:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.           Session IV.  Developing the Reform Proposal
This session will come to one or two approaches and refine the elements of reform that warrant further study or, ideally, Congressional action.  Specifically, what is the purpose, structure, approach and funding mechanism for American public diplomacy of the future?  How does the group propose to give the desired audiences access to American values and ideas, with the appropriate tools and approaches?

10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.         Session V.  Refining the Proposal: Working Groups
To implement the desired objectives and approach so far developed, three working groups will delve deeper into the most important issues to give greater substance to the proposal:

Working Group A: Approaches to Reinvention
This includes refining the mission of public diplomacy going forward; and fleshing out the design for radical reinvention of public diplomacy.
Working Group B: Structure and Funding
This includes restructuring agencies such as the State Department (Public Diplomacy), BBG, possibly the public diplomacy functions in the Department of Defense, and others in a way that will make American public diplomacy most effective.  What to do with legacy institutions?  How and at what level is it funded?
Working Group C: Tools and Personnel
This group will consider how to structure American public diplomacy so that it has the flexibility to utilize new information and communications tools as they become relevant to reaching foreign audiences. It will also address the sort of requirements the new government apparatus should look for in its personnel, including boards and leadership, and how staffing and training might take place in the future.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

8:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.           Session VI.  Reforming American Public Diplomacy: The Proposal
In this session participants hear back from the Working Groups and refine their recommendations into a single, coherent proposal.

10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.         Session VII.  Reforming American Public Diplomacy: The Road Ahead
In this final session, participants strategize how the group’s reform proposal might move forward. 

  • What are the essential elements, what will likely meet resistance? 
  • How can the group generate a bi-partisan alliance to make this happen?
  • Who needs to do what to make it happen?