Course description and expected learning outcomes

This course is offered for the first time in the first semester of the academic year 2020-21 in co-teaching with Professor Corneliu Bjola (Oxford University). The course will allow students to understand the meaning of public diplomacy and the relationship between diplomacy and technological change; 2) to create significant links between pre-digital traditional forms of diplomacy and the present digitalization of diplomatic practices; 3) to assess whether digital diplomacy is introducing original and critical insights into the conditions that allow digitalization to inform foreign policy. Case studies of relevant digital tools and the analysis of platforms that are being currently used by embassies and foreign ministries in their work, would allow students to observe and reflect - in their course work - on concrete examples of the present transformation towards digital diplomacy.

Programme and Contents

Public diplomacy is an integral part of state-to-state diplomacy: the conduct of official relations by diplomats representing sovereign states. The new trend towards public and digital diplomacy will not in the short term displace traditional state-to-state diplomacy as practiced by foreign ministries, but it will impact the way foreign ministries plan their activities. By calling attention to the changing landscape that new approaches and technological innovations create for diplomatic practice, this course seeks to explain what new dynamics, developments and trends have emerged at the intersection of diplomacy and digital communication, including social media, and to assess the implications of the digital transformation of diplomatic theory and practice. The main issues/questions presented and discussed by this course are the following:

1) To what extent digital diplomacy represents either an evolution or a revolution in the practice of diplomacy?

2) How effective is digital diplomacy in advancing the foreign policy agenda of a country?

3) How has crisis communication evolved as a result of the digital age?

4) What are the challenges and drawbacks of using digital tools during a crisis (both consular and diplomatic)?

5) How is social media used for disinformation and propaganda purposes?

6) Do we have tools at our disposal or can we device some to counteract digital disinformation campaigns?

Teaching Methods

This course offers two weekly teaching sessions over six weeks by Professor Bjola and Professor Poggiolini focusing on the contents previously listed. Lectures will have a strong interactive component and will provide students week by week with specific readings and support to carry on their course projects.

Recommended Readings

Bjola, Corneliu, and Marcus Holmes (eds). 2015. Digital diplomacy: theory and practice. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge.

Bjola, Corneliu and R. Zaiotti (eds.), Digital Diplomacy and International Organisations. Milton Park, Abingdon; New York: Routledge (forthcoming 2020).

Manor, Ilan, The Digitalization of Public Diplomacy (Palgrave, 2019)

Sandre, Andreas. 2015. Digital diplomacy: conversations on innovation in foreign policy. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Course Assessment

Participation counts for 25 % of the grade. Aside from regular attendance, you will be required to submit one short comment (task) on the readings each week to the teaching assistant.

At the end of the course, students will be asked to address 12 questions (2 per session) in the multiple-choice format. The multiple-choice exam will count for 50% of the grade.

As part of a team, you will prepare and submit a digital diplomacy project (25%) from a list of choices, to be discussed with the convener of the course and the teaching assistant.