Two things here.
. The conference on “Public Diplomacy in Context” has come and gone. It was a pleasure and an honor to get so many excellent scholars and specialists in the field gathered in Helsinki and Turku.
If you want to get an idea of what was talked about during this conference, most of the event was live-tweeted by the excellent Karen Melchior and the good people at the Finnish Foreign Ministry. The hashtag is #PDincontext (https://twitter.com/search/realtime?q=%23PDinContext&src=hash). You can also check the papers on the conference blog: http://publicdiplomacyincontext.blogspot.fi/
I could emphasize two things from the conference, one per day for equal measure.
The first day took place under the auspices of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We were treated to a presentation of Finland’s public diplomacy efforts. Nothing original here, mostly a nice overview of the “Team Finland” project, which the Finns present as the philosophical stone to get a coordinated PD effort; coordination between various administrations, and between official and unofficial actors. Apart from that, most of the presentations turned around public diplomacy and diplomatic practices, with some mentions of an interesting report written by the Netherlands Institute of International Relations on the Futures of diplomacy. The institute was commissioned by the Finnish MFA to write on the future of diplomatic practices. The conclusions are interesting, but I would like to see how they were received by the diplomats themselves…
The second day started with a keynote by Nicholas Cull, where he broke the concept of public diplomacy in those constituent parts he had already emphasized in his work (listening, advocacy, cultural diplomacy, exchange, and international broadcasting), and looked at these parts in the case of the Nordic countries’ history. Cull’s taxonomy provides an excellent starting point to reflect about what PD is made of in various chronological and geographical contexts. Even if one decides, after all, not to use the same categories, they remain useful as a point of departure. Some things stuck with Cull’s presentation (a certain idealism in the description of PD as “healing” diplomacy aiming at organizing a dialogue between nations; a tendency towards technological determinism when evoking the role of the Internet and digital diplomacy, etc), but all in all, a great keynote and an all-around excellent day, with lots of different approaches to diplomatic practices.
. And more diplomacy! The University of Toulouse le Mirail will organize in June 2014 a conference on Forms of Diplomacy. The CFP is out, go check it here: