A Culture of Understanding

For my final post for this class, I decided to write about an idea that I’ve always thought of as beneficial in improving public diplomacy. The idea is not new by any means, nor is it provocative. Bruce Gregory discussed the development of a culture of understanding in his article, “American Public Diplomacy: Enduring Characteristics, Elusive Transformation.” The simple concept that governmental departments should collaborate more among themselves internally and enlist the help of thinkers in the NGO and private sector is a great idea in theory, but we have yet to master it in practice.  I decided to write my final paper on public private partnership because there has been a recent shift towards these partnerships and I believe that they can mean only good things for U.S. public diplomacy goals.

Gregory mentions that the knowledge and expertise needed for effective diplomacy does not necessarily lie within the walls of the government. It is the voices outside of the government and some quietly within that hold the key to building a culture of understanding. Archaic government practices and engagement ideas are not strong enough to stand up against the rapid changes occurring on the international stage. While the State Department has made notable strides to keep up with the changing landscape, more work needs to be done to “leverage civil society’s knowledge, skills and creativity through a networked capacity intended to enable government instruments–not to duplicate or compete with them.”

Organizations such as Booz Allen Hamilton, the Aspen Institute and Coca-Cola are increasingly becoming involved in public diplomacy and partnerships with the State Department. Although some may question the motives of these organizations, it is my opinion that the partnerships provide a two way benefit. The companies or organizations get good PR and are able to secure big government contracts and the State Department is able to get funding for programs their shrinking budget is struggling to support.  The brain power and extra dollars that private partnerships bring to the public sector seem to help rather than harm public diplomacy efforts.


34 thoughts on “A Culture of Understanding”

  1. think the hardest part about creating culture is that we don’t really “see” our own culture because we’re so immersed in it. When I’m creating a new culture, some of the things I create seem ridiculous. But then I realize that if I tried to explain some of the traditions in my real life culture – such as baptism, high school prom, the use of wedding rings, the pledge of allegiance, etc. – the explanations are actually just as weird. The way to make cultures realistic is, in my opinion, to tie the traditions to something deeper – so, like you mention, tie the tradition to the food, the location, the resources, the language, etc.

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