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Who is a diplomat in today’s world? The di erences between the academic’s

and the practitioner’s approach to teaching diplomacy point to some answers.


Donna Marie Oglesby spent more than 25 years as a Foreign Service

o cer with the United States Information Agency, serving in ai-

land, Paraguay, El Salvador, Austria, Brazil andWashington, D.C.

She capped her career by serving as USIA counselor, the agency’s

highest-ranking career position. While in the Service, she received the

Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange Award

for Outstanding Service, the Presidential Distinguished Service Award

and the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy.

Since retiring from the Foreign Service, Ms. Oglesby has taught at Eckerd

College in St. Petersburg, Florida. Her articles on diplomacy have been

published by the United States Institute of Peace,

e Foreign Service



e SAIS Review



CPD Perspectives.


he concept of diplomacy has long

lacked cultural resonance in the United


e late R. Smith Simpson,

a career U.S. Foreign Service o cer

credited with stimulating the creation

of the Georgetown Institute for the

Study of Diplomacy in 1978, was said

to have been an “absolute pit bull” on

making the intricacies of diplomacy

a key component of the curriculum. He left ISD in 1992, when

the curriculum strayed from that objective. “Diplomacy was a

neglected eld. It wasn’t sexy,” Dean Peter Krogh noted at the

time of Simpson’s death. “Everyone wants to talk about what we

want to do in the world; not a lot want to talk about how to get it


at is still true today.

Diplomacy has been squeezed out of the course catalogs in

American higher education by the two master frames driving

American views of how to deal with the world: defend against

it, or transform it. Americans are far less interested in managing

international relations through perpetual systemic engagement.

ey want either to avoid or to x problems, transcending the

never-ending compromises of diplomacy, which seem to many

both old-world and old-hat.

Yet, while they are few and far between, courses on diplo-

macy do exist. After an extensive search in 2013, I found and

reviewed more than 60 diplomacy course syllabi, with a subset

on public diplomacy, and conducted lengthy interviews with a

majority of the teachers.

e courses are found occasionally in





departments of international relations and history, most often in

member institutions of the Association of Professional Schools

of International A airs, and they are taught by both academics

and practitioners (mostly retired FSOs). Course content varies

widely, based on the personal experiences and the disciplines of

those teaching. I could not nd a common core.

Whereas academics traditionally teach an understanding

of what the international institution of diplomacy is and how

it changes over time, FSOs emphasize how American foreign

affairs institutions are organized, how foreign policy is deter-

mined and conducted, and what the speci cs of foreign policies

are. But beyond that distinction, I found greater patterns of

di erence between courses designed by academics and those

created by American practitioners than would be expected from

a close reading of the literature on the gap between international