Exchange Diplomacy: Humanizing International Relations

Welcome to my new and improved research blog! It’s a new home for thinking through my works-in-progress, reflections on academic life and work-life balance, and my thoughts on current developments in exchange diplomacy, and public diplomacy & international communications research more generally.

I’ve been thinking about exchanges for the better part of the past decade, and although I’ve become somewhat more critical over time, I still ultimately believe in exchange diplomacy. Bringing people together has a certain intangible quality to it that academics and program evaluators can’t quantify–they share ideas and stories, they learn from each other and teach each other, they grow to understand each other and see the world through new eyes. This is, of course, the utopian vision of exchanges held by liberal internationalists like J. William Fulbright or Elihu Root–but their words still have relevance today.

And it’s not just about formal exchange diplomacy programs. There’s something bigger here: the idea of humanizing international relations. It’s seeing a given country not as “ally” or “enemy”, but as a home of fellow human beings. It’s about recognizing our common humanity, a worldview shared by many religions and philosophies–it’s nothing new, but it’s still very relevant today. The refugee crisis, immigration, the divisive politics in the era of Brexit and Trump–they’re all about recognising our common humanity. In the words of the late MP Jo Cox, speaking about her diverse constituency, “we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.” 

So, with that in mind, I hope this blog can be a place where we can explore these themes, thinking about how we can humanize international relations and how we can support efforts to turn nations into people.

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