What is Public Diplomacy?

Ed Murrow, former director of the US Information Agency
Edward R. Morrow, considered by many to be a forefather of Public Diplomacy. Image source: Wikipedia.

The Maxwell School operates the Public Diplomacy dual-degree program jointly with the world renowned S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.  As one of the few schools with a dedicated program of study related to this central concept in international relations. So what do we mean when we talk about Public Diplomacy?

Syracuse University views Public Diplomacy as a professional field that is broader than its traditional focus on government-funded and  -sponsored cultural and educational exchanges.  It also includes includes non-governmental communications that have an impact on government, as well as government communications that affect non-governmental sectors and the private sector.

The US State Department considers public diplomacy as “support[ing] the achievement of U.S. foreign policy goals and objectives, advance national interests, and enhance national security by informing and influencing foreign publics and by expanding and strengthening the relationship between the people and Government of the United States and citizens of the rest of the world.”

It is important to distinguish public diplomacy from traditional diplomacy.  Public diplomacy maintains a different and more transparent target audience, namely the wider international public. It concerns itself not with the comportment or policies of foreign governments, but rather with attitudes and behaviors of publics. 

At heart, public diplomacy is deeply involved in the use of media and programming tools to inform international audiences about foreign policy stances and initiatives and serves to secure a nation-state’s image in the global community.

By completing the public diplomacy degree at Syracuse University, students are well-equipped to take on important roles in the international community and help to build intercultural bridges around the world.


For more information about the rise of the public diplomacy program at SU and the importance of its training, please read the most recent issue of the Maxwell Perspectives magazine, in the article Good Idea.”