Citizen diplomacy, or public diplomacy, is the grassroots of foreign relations. Traditional diplomacy takes place between states; public diplomacy involves person-to-person contact between citizens of different countries – whether by professionals, volunteers, students, or travelers. This interaction helps to shape public opinion and understanding. Today, globalization and the engagement of private citizens in international business provide every individual with a greater opportunity as well as more responsibility for exercising citizen diplomacy than ever before.Recognizing the importance of citizen diplomacy to U.S. foreign relations and national security, the U.S. Government has long supported programs like the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), Peace Corps, youth exchanges, and fellowships. Such programs are considered long-term investments, impacting individuals and communities in both the United States and abroad.
WorldBoston is proud to have implemented these and other public diplomacy initiatives since 1961, when the organization was founded as the Boston Center for International Visitors. Each year we welcome hundreds of current and emerging leaders from all over the world to the Greater Boston area, organizing professional exchanges, forging connections between them and local counterparts, and promoting international cooperation. We are a member of the Global Ties U.S. (formerly the National Council for International Visitors) network and collaborate with affiliated organizations in Washington, D.C., on many projects.
Understanding Citizen Diplomacy
Citizen diplomacy builds individual and collective global fluency, which in turn creates economic opportunity, contributes to peace and stability, and develops leadership skills through global problem solving.
In an era of unprecedented interconnectivity, individuals from around the world have the ability to share information and ideas instantaneously and work together to resolve common challenges. As contributors to a global community, every individual should understand the positive impact they can have as citizen diplomats and be empowered to act with meaning and purpose.
Thought leaders from across the public, private, and social sectors see the value in citizen diplomacy
Citizen Diplomacy is the concept that the individual has the right, even the responsibility, to help shape U.S. foreign relations, "one handshake at a time."Citizen diplomats can be students, teachers, athletes, artists, business people, humanitarians, adventurers or tourists.
We have an important obligation to our young people to equip them with the necessary linguistic and cultural competencies to enable them to interact appropriately with others around the world. These skills will enable young Americans to embrace their role in representing the U.S. as citizen diplomats as they live and work in our global society.
MARTY ABBOTTExecutive Director, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
Citizen diplomacy is at the heart of everything we do at PYXERA Global. Building relationships across borders and creating global fluency in individuals and organizations makes the tough work of driving positive social change possible. At PYXERA Global, we no longer say that we work in the field of international development; “development” being something you do to someone. Our work is focused on fostering purposeful global engagement; “engagement” being something you do with someone, and for mutual benefit. While the majority of our work is in fostering public, private, and social sector organizations to engage globally in a purposeful manner, none of that is possible without the individual willingness to build relationships and understanding – citizen diplomacy.
DEIRDRE WHITECEO, PYXERA Global