What Is Public Diplomacy?

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The U.S. Department of State builds relationships with people and governments of other countries in many different ways. While diplomacy is often thought of as formal meetings with foreign officials, diplomacy is also meeting, talking, and working with the citizens of other countries. Public diplomacy is outreach and engagement that strengthens the relationships between the people of the United States and citizens of other countries. The connections made between people through public diplomacy are essential in creating mutual understanding and respect between the people and the United States.

In this video, Public Diplomacy Foreign Service Officer Kristin Kane shares the importance and outcomes of public diplomacy efforts.

Discussion Questions

Use the following discussion questions to guide your classroom conversations about this video. Refer to the timestamps to find the answers to these questions.

  1. What is public diplomacy? (start – 0:30)
  2. What are the advantages of Foreign Service Officers interacting with the public? (0:44 – 1:30)
  3. Why do State Department programs vary from country to country? (1:35 – 1:45)
  4. In what ways are discussions in other countries about democracy important for diplomacy and building relationships? (2:35 – 3:50)
  5. Explain your thinking about this quote from the video, “they can also be critical of us [the United States] and that’s okay.” Why is it important for Americans abroad to understand criticisms of the United States? (3:40 – 3:50)
  6. Why do you think public diplomacy has longer-term outcomes than other types of diplomacy? (3:55 – 4:35)
  7. How do the experiences that world leaders have with the State Department impact diplomacy and relationships with the United States? (4:40 – end)
  8. Identify some ways the United States uses public diplomacy.
  9. What is one thing you learned from the video that you found interesting, surprising, or confusing?
  10. What is one question you would ask the speaker in this video?
  11. Summarize what you learned about the importance of public diplomacy.

Video Vocabulary

The following terms are referenced in this video.

  • Culture – Attitudes, values, goals, and practices shared by groups of people.
  • Public – All people or the whole area of a nation or state.
  • Diplomat – A person who is skilled at working with people from other countries while representing their own country’s interests.
  • Foreign policy – The plan a country has that describes how to interact with other countries.
  • Repercussions – An effect caused by an action.
  • Makerspace – A collaborative work space inside a school, library, or separate public or private facility for making, learning, exploring, and sharing.
  • Impart – To pass on or communicate information.
  • Critical – Expressing disapproval.
  • Diplomacy – The art and practice of building and maintaining relationships and conducting negotiations with people using tact and mutual respect.
  • Proposal – A formal plan or suggestion presented for consideration or discussion by others.

AP and IB Course Connections

Use this video in your Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes. Below are prompts for each course.

AP Comparative Government

Suggested Course Units: Unit 1: Political Systems, Regimes, and Governments, Unit 2: Political Institutions, Unit 5: Political and Economic Changes and Development
Question Type: Conceptual Analysis
Prompt: Answer a, b, c, and d.

(A) Define public diplomacy.
(B) Describe a situation when a democratic or authoritarian government could use public diplomacy to promote its interests.
(C) Explain one reason why a government would choose to use public diplomacy.
(D) Explain how and why using public diplomacy might bring unwanted outcomes.

IB Global Politics

Paper Type: Stimulus-based paper on a topic from one of the four core units.
Prompt: Explain the term public diplomacy and its effectiveness as a method of diplomacy using both the information in the video and examples you have studied.