Branding Nations and Cultures

Branding Nations and Cultures will advance the goals of the Complex Problems program by using communications theory and practical application texts & learning tools to “unpack” concepts of national narratives in global diplomacy. Throughout the course, the very accessible concepts of national identity (and the branding of places and cultures in addition to nations) will be used as a technique to illuminate concepts of diversity, collaboration, and respect for differing identities, narratives, and cultures. The vision of a once-weekly block course envisions a structured progression through the concepts of nations, places, peoples, and cultures developing/capturing their own story, and engaging in a globalized world to capture and convey that narrative to advance their national or cultural priorities. This “telling” process is an extremely effective vehicle for exposing students to how communities self-identify and externally communicate their values, priorities, passions, and plans. Lastly, the Washington, D.C., international ecosystem is uniquely positioned to supply the insights into both content and learning approaches for American University students utilizing this course’s prism. For example, the U.S. State Department offers tours (and I will facilitate guest speakers) that illuminate how the United States tells its story globally; the embassies of the world in D.C. illuminate how other nations tell their story to the United States and the United Nations; the Newseum illuminates how the world’s media covers every story about every “place” and culture every day; and many more. This course will be structured to facilitate a sequence of 1) student examination of a case study or example of interest; 2) a presentation to the class of their discoveries, analysis, and conclusions; 3) a submission of their findings using a variety of “texts” and sources”; 4) professor’s feedback; and 5) the opportunity to re-engage with the subject matter and to re-submit their analysis assignments. In each case, the class discussions and the student-initiated case study focus read-outs will be supported by three components to help convey to the students the variety of learning tools that are available and required, including theoretical foundations; diverse “texts” of insights; and current, real-time examples that exemplify the “why does this matter” aspect of the learning.