THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
JANUARY FEBRUARY 2015
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.
BY DONNA MAR I E OGL ESBY
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
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
ON TEACHING DIPLOMACY
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