Public Diplomacy

Dovetailing with the White House’s focus on the important role played by two-year institutions in American education, the Department of State and the Fulbright Program are seeking to involve community colleges more in exchanges, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Secretary of State John Kerry honored seven influential American artists one month ago for their contributions to U.S. cultural diplomacy, presenting them with the Art in Embassies (AIE) Medal of Arts Life Time Achievement award. In his opening speech at the awards ceremony, Kerry explored the weight art and multimedia have on cultural diplomatic pursuits:

An increasing number of high school graduates in the United Kingdom are interested and/or enrolling in universities outside of the U.K., according to The Independent. A survey of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) found that ninety per cent of its administrators had noticed increased student interest in universities outside the U.K. over the past three years.

In a podcast (in German) on the German government website, Chancellor Angela Merkel discusses current transatlantic issues, including her concern over funding cuts to the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program. Katherine Lindemann, a political science student from Maine who is currently studying at Humboldt University in Berlin, conducted the interview.

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The U.S. Department of State is celebrating 75 years of state-sponsored exchange programs this year. Launched today is a social media campaign using the hashtag #ExchangesAre and comprising an array of videos that will explore the historical impacts of such programs. The 75th anniversary of State Department exchanges coincides with today’s launch of a new, informative website and will also be accompanied by a series of events throughout 2015.

Several veteran members of Congress are urging their colleagues to travel abroad more, according to Roll Call. Frequent Congressional travelers make the case that international travel is vital for Members to do their jobs effectively, and that there is great value in legislators better understanding the international context in which they govern. As Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) explains:

The U.S. government has clarified its regulations for American citizens traveling to Cuba, allowing for a more complete understanding of the effect of the new policy on international exchange opportunities. The U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Department of Commerce published updated regulations on travel to Cuba, effective January 16, 2015, NAFSA reports.

In his 2015 State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama spoke at length about the role of diplomacy in U.S. foreign policy. He emphasized the role of international diplomacy in addressing global challenges and enhancing U.S. leadership abroad:

“I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building...That’s exactly what we’re doing right now — and around the globe, it is making a difference.”

Recent changes in U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba ease travel restrictions for American students and faculty, and open the door for nonacademic exchange programs and travel to Cuba, Inside Higher Ed reports. President Obama announced his administration’s new Cuba policy in December 2014, re-establishing diplomatic relations with the nation.

The U.S. and Mexico reaffirmed their mutual commitment to increasing exchange opportunities for American and Mexican students this week.  Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s visit to Washington, DC marked a continuation in recent Mexico-U.S. collaboration efforts on education.

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