Public Diplomacy


Public diplomacy extends beyond the formal diplomatic communications of a government to a foreign public. Formal government public diplomacy campaigns often seek to capitalize on or counteract competing messages transmitted by their country's cultural industries.

Cultural elements including Television Programs, Film, Music, Radio, Sports, Cuisine, and Religion among many others play an important role in shaping how countries are perceived abroad. These activities can have a significant impact on international relations through cross-cultural communications.

Joseph Nye, former Dean of the Kennedy School at Harvard University believes that a country's culture comprises a core component of its relative soft power in the international political arena. Cultural diplomacy, as defined by the Center for Arts and Culture, is “the representation of culture through the “soft diplomacy” of artistic and cultural exchange.”

Alliance for International Education and Cultural Exchange

The Alliance for International Education and Cultural Exchange is a coalition of non-governmental organizations who work to promote policies that support the growth of international exchange programs between the people of the United States and other nations. The Alliance advocates that participation in exchange programs helps to further global peace, freedom, mutual understanding, international cooperation, and growth of human knowledge.

American Public Diplomacy Envoy

On November 9, 2006 Olympic Skater Michelle Kwan was named the first American Public Diplomacy Envoy by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Her job requires her to engage youth in dialogue on the importance of education, health, and respect for diversity. One of Kwan’s personal goals is to increase understanding of American people and culture. Through interacting with those she meets on her visits, she hopes to emit the positive things the U.S. stands for.

Kwan’s new position has led her to China in January 2007 and Russia in June. On her trips, accompanied by Under Secretary Karen Hughes, she has met with students, women’s groups, community leaders, government officials, and the media. According to the Department of State, Kwan future travels will lead her to youth organizations and schools, speaking about her personal experience and encouraging mutual understanding among youth. Kwan also hopes to participate in meetings and conferences focused on expanding opportunities for young girls in education and sports.

Art/Film Diplomacy

The role of arts and culture in diplomacy should be expanded to foster mutual understanding of American values and culture abroad. The U.S. Department of State and the Center for Arts and Culture have established programs to increase the use of art in America’s foreign policy and diplomacy initiatives.

Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs

In 2006 the Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) in the Department of State launched the Global Cultural Initiative which emphasizes the importance of the arts as a means of engagement. Partners involved include the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the American Film Institute (AFI), the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The projects of this initiative are focused on connecting foreign audiences with American artists and art forms, sharing American expertise in arts management and performance, and educating young people and adults, in both the U.S. and abroad, about the arts and cultures of other countries.

The following ECA initiatives and programs are more specific to performing and visual arts:

The Center for Arts and Culture

The Center for Arts and Culture, based in Washington D.C., established a Cultural Diplomacy Initiative to reinvigorate the role of arts and culture in America’s foreign policy. The Center has engaged in research and education programs to institute an effective cultural diplomacy program and to increase funding for the State Department’s cultural exchange programs. Based on two years of research from 2002-2004, the Center published their recommendations: Cultural Diplomacy: Recommendations and Research. Research showed that improving Federal and U.S. Department of State policies, leverage federal funding, and strengthening existing programs and launching new cultural exchange programs would be beneficial to U.S. cultural diplomacy.

Dubai International Film Festival

The Dubai International Film Festival is held yearly in the Persian Gulf Emirate of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Owing to the Emirates' generous patronage, the Festival has quickly established itself as one of the top three film festivals in the Arab World, along with those held in Cairo and Marrakesh. Under the motto "Bridging Cultures, Meeting Minds," the Festival with its various programs and initiatives pursues the dual mission of establishing Dubai as a major international creative hub, while also promoting the region's indigenous culture.[1]. As such, the Dubai International Film Festival is a strategic public diplomacy move on the part of the Emir for both Dubai and the Arab World at large.

Since the Festival’s inception and after the conclusion of last year’s round, which ran from December 9-16, 2007, over 250 films have now been shown and 48 countries represented in Dubai, making it one of the most visible advances of Arab culture on the world stage.

President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities was established by Executive Order in 1982 under President Ronald Reagan to identify issues and develop initiatives in the arts and humanities that are of critical importance to the nation. The Committee helps to emphasize the civic, social, educational, and historical value of the arts and humanities in the life of the United States. Their work promotes international cultural cooperation, addresses the needs of youth, and preserves the art and culture of the United States. The Committee’s essential goal is to connect the American people with the rest of the world through dance, music, literature, painting and sculpture, and heritage and cultural tourism.

Sports Diplomacy

The Olympic Games

World Paddle Sport Foundation

The World Paddle Sport Foundation's mission is to introduce the ideals and visions of the Olympics, providing leadership to women from Muslim and Arab lands. If indeed sport and exchange of cultures can lessen tensions between Nations, this is the goal of the WPSF by bringing people together to realize we are of the same skin, mind and spirit. In June 2007 Ms. Ashraf and Mr. Wiegand began exchanges between individual Iranian and US athletes, disregarding the political tensions between the two Nations. Throughout the ages, in countries across the globe, women have struggled and fought in pursuit of gender equality. Having a voice in government and living free of lifelong enslavement by another person were once pipe dreams for the women of the world, and are still a distant desire in many nations.

The World Paddle Sport Foundation [WPSF] is distinctly aware that improving the vitality of life is essential to enhance and alleviate the human condition through canoeing and kayaking. WPSF is committed to changing lives through empowering individuals to suspend and transcend the gravity of their circumstances and partake in the fun, excitement, delight and brightness that life has to offer through canoeing and kayaking.

It is the World Paddle Sport Foundation’s commitment to individually touch and infect the lives of women and children, with vibrancy of life, and sharing the passion, creativity, and talent of its volunteers, and a desire to live what you love through inspirational, innovative and personalized canoe and kayak instruction targeting five specific goals:

1. Provide opportunities to realize and reach real life goals through paddle sport

2. Provide a chance to find passion, and maintain passion, through paddle sport and find ways to associate them in daily life.

3. Become confident, well-rounded adults and leaders in society when they return to their home.

4. Allow each person to proudly represent their National, Social and Political culture in a sporting environment in which is intended as a peaceful movement.

5. Allow women to find an equal spot in today’s difficult economic world and achieve gender equity in sport and life.

Further Reading


Useful Links

  • [ Demos Cultural Diplomacy]
*Art and Diplomacy (