Graduate students present public diplomacy project to State Department

Students in professor Price Floyd’s public diplomacy course will have an unlikely evaluator this semester: the U.S. Department of State.

As part of a team project, students enrolled in U.S. Public Diplomacy – a graduate level course in the Elliott School of International Affairs – will be asked to tackle a real world public diplomacy problem and present a solution and implementation plan.

Students will write a two-page memo as well as a one-page implementation plan and present their ideas to the class in a 15-minute presentation during which a State Department official will be present.

Floyd – who is team-teaching the course along with Dr. Kristin Lord – recently left his post as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs at the Department of Defense.

Through projects like the State Department proposal, Floyd said he hopes students will gain a greater understanding of the practical side of public diplomacy.

“I hope they learn that they can affect change even globally through their abilities to communicate,” he said.

Students in the course have presented what they foresee as communication challenges in the future, a particular interest for Floyd.

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” he said. “How will my children express their ideas and thoughts if people are now doing it in 140 characters? The one thing we know for sure is whatever we have now will change.”

Despite the positive effects social media has on the way people communicate, there has been a trend to promote information without a thought process behind it, Floyd said.

“If you still don’t take the time to think about and process the information, if you send the information just to send it, that’s a downside,” he said. “Social media is about engaging. Not only do you change and inform others, they change and inform you.”

Donald Leadbetter, a student in the master’s of tourism administration program, said the theories and textbook readings are augmented by the actual experience both Floyd and Lord bring to the classroom.

“That’s the GW difference,” he said. “We have the chance to learn from experts who bolster their academic lessons with real-world examples and expertise.”

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