F702 Fall 2018 Diplomacy at Risk
Mondays, 2:15–3:40, Sept. 17–Nov. 5
No class Oct. 8
Church of the Good Shepherd
Coordinator: Kathleen Burns
By definition, diplomacy is the “profession, activity or skill of managing international relations, typically by a country’s representatives abroad.” It is also described as “the art of dealing with people in a sensitive and effective way.” Its practice is characterized by skills including tact, statesmanship, finesse, politeness, discretion, and the ability to negotiate, among others. The role of the US Foreign Service corps of career officials around the world is to help carry out this mission, preventing wars, dealing with international crises, and protecting Americans abroad and at home. But since the White House transition of power occurred in January 2017, this goal has been put at risk. As of April 2018, over 45 of 188 ambassadorial posts remained vacant, including in hot spots like South Korea, Syria, and Venezuela, and strategic posts like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the European Union. In the past year, 60 percent of the top-ranking diplomats left the State Department. And more budget cuts and slashing of staff could be in the future. Join us as we discuss this perilous situation. We will also show some vignettes from a new seven-part TV series developed by retired foreign service officers entitled “Diplomacy at Risk.” Speakers will include those who have served as ambassadors, deputy chiefs of mission and other consular career officers, military, business officials, and foreign policy experts. Join us for this in-depth course as we explore issues such as national security, jobs and business, refugees and human rights, energy and environment, and cyberwarfare in today’s rapidly changing world.
Kathleen Burns, a longtime OLLI instructor, was the 2016-17 president of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She was a foreign correspondent in Australia and has taught in seven universities, both in the United States and overseas.