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52

APRIL 2017

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

AFSA NEWS

AFSAHosts UTAustin Researchers

In December, a team of

15 graduate students and

their faculty advisers from

the University of Texas

at Austin’s LBJ School of

Public Affairs traveled to

Washington, D.C., as part of

an ongoing AFSA-sponsored

exercise to identify best

practices in diplomacy. The

countries under review are

Brazil, China, France, Ger-

many, India, Russia, Turkey

and the United Kingdom.

The team spent its days

meeting with a variety of

stakeholders, including

veteran diplomats who serve

on AFSA’s Ambassadorial

Advisory Council and select

members of the American

Academy of Diplomacy;

experts from other coun-

tries’ diplomatic services;

think-tank representatives

from the Center for Ameri-

can Progress, the Brook-

ings Institution, the Crisis

Management Initiative and

AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Stephenson (center) and former Professional Policy Issues Director Maria

Livingston (fourth from right) with UT Austin graduate students and faculty advisers during their recent visit to

Washington, D.C., as part of an AFSA-sponsored benchmarking exercise.

AFSA/GEMMADVORAK

At a reception with members of the American Academy of Diplomacy,

students from UT Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs speak with

Ambassador Kenneth Brill, about his career and experiences in the

Foreign Service.

AFSA/GEMMADVORAK

the Woodrow Wilson Center

for International Scholars;

and the Department of

State’s Bureau of Human

Resources.

During these encounters,

the students presented their

preliminary findings regard-

ing the various roles that

diplomatic services play, i.e.,

messengers delivering infor-

mation to the host country’s

government, intermediaries

whose reporting informs poli-

cymaking in their respective

capitals or primary foreign

policy makers.

Of note, early findings

show that entry into every

service requires a highly

competitive examination

process and that, while not

the only country to utilize

political appointees, the

United States is an outlier

in terms of the number of

political appointees occu-

pying high-level positions

within its foreign ministry.

The week’s meetings

were designed to add to the

students’ understanding of

the theoretical underpin-

nings and practical consid-

erations of their research.

Meeting participants offered

constructive feedback and

suggestions on where to go

and with whom to inquire to

find more data.

Following the visit, the

students returned to Austin,

where they are spending

their second semester

incorporating the findings

from their conversations

and following up on new

leads. They will present

their final report to AFSA at

the end of the spring 2017

semester.

AFSA plans to use the

findings to help shape a

proactive advocacy agenda

on Capitol Hill and with the

Department of State. The

overall goals of AFSA are to

foster: (1) a Foreign Service

that continues to attract

a highly qualified cadre of

career candidates; (2) an

FS personnel system that

ensures that those who

come in are offered a work

environment in which they

can thrive and develop

into exceptionally skilled

diplomats who are equipped

to lead the country’s foreign

policy 20-25 years into their

careers; and (3) a strong

professional Foreign Service

whose presence, skill and

ability to deliver on behalf of

Americans are unmatched

in the diplomatic sphere.

n