Magda Siekert, Middle East Studies

U.S. Public Diplomacy in the Arab World (MEST 233)

I plan to use what I learned in the Valley and Ridge (V&R) workshop of to revise a course that I teach every spring semester, U.S. Public Diplomacy in the Arab World.  The course introduces students to the theory and practice of U.S. public diplomacy from a historical and a comparative perspective, looking at past and present challenges, successes and failures.  Students explore the role of public diplomacy in promoting mutual understanding and U.S. strategic interests through cultural exchanges, educational programs, traditional and new media.  In addition to bilateral diplomacy with individual Arab countries, we study the increasingly critical role of multilateral diplomacy – through organizations such as the United Nations – in tackling extreme poverty, girls’ education, climate change, and other global challenges. Throughout the course, we study sustainability indirectly, without openly addressing the concept or its institutional development.   

In spring 2019, and thanks to the V&R workshop, I plan to introduce the concept of sustainability as social justice, economic fairness, and environmental necessity from the first week of class, and refer back to it as we delve into case studies from the Arab world.  Students will research the Earth Charter - the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 – and examine the extent to which traditionally marginalized groups contributed to their development alongside governments, NGOs, and the private sector.  Students will focus on “glocal” sustainability issues: issues that matter locally and globally, and they will explore the role of public diplomacy, education, grassroots awareness raising campaigns, and public mobilization in advancing these goals.