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Diplomacy is a collaborative process over time involving a number of players

with di ering perspectives and strengths. How does a practitioner convey

that in a classroom?


Barbara K. Bodine, a retired Senior Foreign Service o cer, served as

ambassador to Yemen from 1997 through 2001, among many other

assignments. She is currently Distinguished Professor in the Practice of

Diplomacy and director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at

Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

is article is adapted from a discussion paper prepared for the Ameri-

can Academy of Diplomacy’s Conference on Diplomacy and Education.

Held in partnership with the International Center for Je erson Studies,

the conference took place inMonticello, Virginia, on June 13, 2011.

(Ambassador Bodine was a member of the faculty at Princeton Univer-

sity’s WoodrowWilson School at the time.)


he story goes that when Ambassador

Robert Gallucci, negotiator extraor-

dinaire, became dean of the Edmund

A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at

Georgetown University, he quipped: “I

now have to teach in theory what I have

done in practice.”

at is the challenge all diplomats

face as we move to the academic world

in some version of that anomalous position, the practitioner-in-

residence. We are not tenure-track faculty, even those of us with

Ph.Ds. Nor are we hired for our writings on the applicability of

neorealism vs. liberal institutionalism to the development of U.S.

policy toward Southern Cone states in the late 1870s. Rather, we

are hired because of our work to implement U.S. policy toward

Southern Cone states in the 1970s and beyond.

Most of us are area specialists, a highly endangered species

in the academic world, and many of us understand program

management, an exotic if nearly mythological creature outside

of business schools. Yet we are not hired in spite of these di er-

ences but (at least at the smarter institutions) because of them.

We are not unlike many of the political appointees with

whom we worked during our careers. Having attained a mea-

sure of success in one eld, we have to navigate a wholly new

environment—language, culture, histories, hierarchies, rival-

ries—and add value to the process. My empathy for political



As Process

(Not Event)

A Practitioner’s Song



appointees has gone up immeasurably since I moved over to the

academic world more than a decade ago.

e degree to which we are welcomed varies by institution

and our ability to adapt to, but not compete with, the estab-

lished order.

e rap on practitioners, and the trap that we fall

into—beyond our naiveté that an AMB is roughly equivalent to

a Ph.D.—is that we are just storytellers. We are an oral history

tribe; indeed, Stu Kennedy has made a career of collecting our

stories for posterity.



our stories. Used properly, they e ectively illustrate a

narrative and bring theory down to practice. It is how we de ne

ourselves and frame events. We are also, we must admit, sus-

ceptible to the blandishments of our young charges—who either

encourage us in our worst habit because they enjoy the story, or