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International Relations Expert to Direct Public Diplomacy Center

USC College’s Geoffrey Wiseman will oversee research projects at center housed in USC Annenberg.

By Alex Boekelheide
May 1, 2008

International Relations Expert to Direct Public Diplomacy Center

Following a national search, noted diplomat and international relations expert Geoffrey Wiseman has been appointed to serve as director of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Housed at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, the center is a partnership with USC College. Wiseman is a professor of the practice of international relations in the College.

In his new role, Wiseman will oversee a variety of research projects, including efforts to track the film industry's role in the projection of the American image overseas, the importance of new technologies in diplomatic activities, and the status of public diplomacy efforts around the globe. He also will arrange seminars and conferences, conduct mid-career training programs and work with the Master of Public Diplomacy degree program.

Last month the U.S. State Department gave USC the first Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy, calling the center “the world’s premier research facility” in the field of public diplomacy.

“The innovative work done by the Center on Public Diplomacy strengthens international and cross-cultural communication and helps us redefine the nature of ‘soft power,’ “ said Ernest J. Wilson III, dean of the USC Annenberg School. “Dr. Wiseman’s background as a leader and a diplomat ensures USC will continue to have a profound impact in the burgeoning field of public diplomacy.”

Wiseman has served as principal officer in the strategic planning unit of the executive office of the Secretary General of the United Nations, where he dealt with issues involving nonproliferation and disarmament.

Prior to coming to USC, he also served as an Australian diplomat posted in Stockholm, Hanoi and Brussels, and as private secretary to Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans. He also was the program officer for international peace and security at the Ford Foundation in New York.

“We were thrilled with the level of applicants, including nine current or former ambassadors, but Geoff Wiseman uniquely blended diplomatic experience with a love of scholarship, a great talent for teaching and a proven track record as a manager,” said USC University Professor Geoffrey Cowan, founder of the center and co-chair of the search committee. “We are confident that he is a superb choice for this job.”

“I am delighted to be a part of the team at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy,” Wiseman said. “I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and start working on the research and policy challenges of the fast-evolving public diplomacy field.”

An expert in international security and diplomatic theory and practice, Wiseman is co-editor of The Diplomatic Corps as an Institution of International Society (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). His research interests center on the viability of “nonprovocative defense” concepts, which focus on how states convey nonthreatening intentions by adopting defensive military capabilities.

He currently is exploring the ways in which future diplomats will need to acquire innovative conceptual and practical skills as global patterns of power, identity and communication become more complex.

“As organizations of all kinds — corporations, nonprofits and governments — expand around the world to pursue their global interests, a comprehensive understanding of the importance of public diplomacy has become more valuable than ever,” said USC College Dean Howard Gillman. “Geoff Wiseman will be able to build on our leadership in this area.”

Wiseman earned his Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Oxford. He also holds degrees in political science from the Australian National University and the University of Tasmania.