Public Diplomacy

A proposed $30 million cut to the Fulbright Program would “rob the United States of one of its greatest, most lasting, and cheapest diplomacy bargains,” writes Rebecca Schuman in a recent column for Slate:

“Sometimes the soft power of cultural and educational exchange is more effective than official diplomacy, because it involves…a demonstrated interest in the host culture, full cultural immersion, and actual personal connection with localsIt’s for this reason that now is the absolute wrong time to cut the Fulbright program.”

“As tensions escalate with countries that were once touchy allies, what we need are more Fulbright grantees in the world, not fewer.”

In his 2014 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama stressed the administration’s efforts to expand people-to-people exchanges as a tool to promote a “strong and principled [U.S.] diplomacy.”

The President said:

“You see, in a world of complex threats, our security and leadership depends on all elements of our power including strong and principled diplomacy.”

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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) yesterday approved by voice vote President Obama’s nomination of Richard Stengel to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Stengel, the former managing editor of Time magazine, is now awaiting confirmation by the full Senate.

Starting next week on November 12, the Department of State will recognize International Education Week, the annual worldwide celebration of the value of international education and exchange. First held in 2000, International Education Week is now celebrated in more than 100 countries worldwide.

At his Senate confirmation hearing today, Richard Stengel, nominee for Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, stressed his long-time commitment to public diplomacy and pledged to advance international exchanges.

Stengel said he would focus on a number of issues he considers vital to U.S. national interests, including the advancement of “public diplomacy’s focus on youth, including girls and underserved communities,” as well as the promotion of educational exchanges:

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Richard Stengel, former Managing Editor of Time magazine and President Obama’s nominee for Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, is scheduled to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) this coming Thursday for his confirmation hearing.

Committee chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) will preside over the hearing, which will be held at 10:30 am in room 419 of the Senate Dirksen building.

A live webcast will be available here.

The Senate confirmed earlier today the nomination of Evan Ryan to be Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the Department of State, CQ.com and The Hill both report. President Obama nominated Ms. Ryan for the post in early July, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) held her confirmation hearing on July 30. The SFRC approved her nomination last week, leading to today’s full Senate confirmation. 

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In an effort to “revamp America’s ‘digital diplomacy’ efforts,” the Department of State has tapped Macon Phillips to lead its Bureau of International Information Programs, the Washington Post reports.  Phillips was the 2008 Obama campaign’s “digital guru” and has been responsible for many White House digital innovations, including its “We The People” online petition site. Phillips will report to former Time magazine managing editor Richard Stengel, who has been nominated as Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs [the Alliance reported].

President Obama nominated yesterday Richard Stengel, Managing Editor of Time magazine, to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, according to a White House press announcement.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) approved by voice vote this afternoon the nomination of Evan Ryan to be Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the Department of State, CQ.com reports. Ms. Ryan's nomination next heads to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote. It is unclear at this time when that vote might take place. 

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