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ACPD Priority Areas of Focus

Measuring Coordination Efforts of Existing PD Tools to Address Disinformation Challenges:  This ACPD September 2020 special report on Public Diplomacy and the New “Old” War: Countering State-Sponsored Disinformation assesses recent State Department and U.S. Agency for Global Media efforts to address a sophisticated array of technology-enabled, information-based threats to national security. Disinformation, or the manipulation and dissemination of information to adversely influence public perceptions and behaviors, has emerged as a major destabilizing force in the global information space. These sophisticated threats weaken state credibility, perpetuate destabilizing narratives about national identity and values, and, most dangerously, erode public confidence in democratic institutions.  Based on targeted surveys and data calls as well as interviews with public diplomacy practitioners and researchers in Washington and the field, this report offers a unique diagnostic assessment of public diplomacy efforts to counter disinformation effects. In addition to evaluating program coordination and resource distribution, this report also provides select U.S. embassy and host country perspectives on counter disinformation program implementation and impacts.

Strengthening Interagency Communication Strategies:  In today’s complex and increasingly competitive global information environment, it is absolutely essential that information outreach, advocacy, and influence initiatives are coordinated across the U.S. government interagency. This requires a basic shared understanding and definition of the information space in all its complexity and broad knowledge of the full range of the information instruments of power—what they are, how they can be best deployed, and their strategic effects. The August 2020 report, Teaching Public Diplomacy and the Information Instruments of Power builds upon a body of expertise around the teaching of public diplomacy, information, and influence activities. The ACPD convened a group of military and civilian educators and practitioners at the National War College Washington, DC.  This special report summarizes their findings and, we believe, marks the beginning of a sustained and productive exchange of ideas, as well as a genuine commitment to improving U.S. government PD initiatives across the interagency.

Bridging Public Diplomacy Gaps with a Greater Understanding of Global Best Practices: The birth of new technologies and ways in which public diplomacy practitioners engage evolving audiences requires greater exploration of innovative approaches through the study of global best practices. Coinciding with the U.S. Department of State Summit on Research, Evaluation and Learning, the ACPD commissioned M&C Saatchi World Services to conduct an audit of global best practices in assessing public diplomacy programs, the results of which are included in the ACPD’s April 2018 report. Optimizing Engagement assesses US efforts, highlights best practices and identifies key gaps and areas to improve public diplomacy programs. The report draws upon 28 detailed case studies, provides in-depth analysis of the research and assessment practices from 17 countries, including input from Brazilian, Chinese, Turkish, and Russian practitioners.

Examining Digital Diplomacy and Strategic Engagement: The internet is essential in modern-day communications yet poses opportunities and challenges for the future of public diplomacy. The May 2017 report, Can Public Diplomacy Survive the Internet, examines ways to think about public diplomacy in this ever and rapidly changing communications space. The Commission convened a group of the private sector, government, and academic experts at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution to discuss the latest research and trends in strategic communication in digital spaces. The results of that workshop, refined by a number of follow-on interviews and discussions with other organizations interested in similar questions, are included in this report. Can Public Diplomacy Survive the Internet also features essays by workshop participants that focus on emergent and potentially transformative technology and communication patterns. The essays explore how public diplomacy practitioners can continue to productively engage with audiences around the world in the face of likely shifts in communication patterns, continue to effectively and efficiently help the United States to achieve its foreign policy priorities, and synchronize American interests with the interests of citizens and governments around the world.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future