Joshua S. Fouts
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Joshua S. Fouts is executive director of the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy, a cross-disciplinary research, teaching and training center run jointly by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and by the USC School of International Relations, a school within the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. He is director of the "Public Diplomacy in Virtual Worlds" project along with Annenberg School communication professor Douglas Thomas.

Prior to joining the Center on Public Diplomacy in 2003, he was co-founder and director of the USC Annenberg Online Journalism & Communication Program, a center for the study of the global impact of the Internet-based journalism on policy, journalism, ethics and society. He was also editor of the program's flagship effort, OJR, the Online Journalism Review, which he grew from a small university Web site to an internationally recognized leader in the field of online journalism, read by almost 50,000 readers monthly, rivaling the per article readership of many respectable U.S. newspapers.

Before joining USC, Joshua spent half a decade at the Voice of America where he was Deputy Chief-of-Staff. He worked on numerous public diplomacy projects throughout the world, including developing the earliest iterations of the VOA Web site, (what would become; public affairs efforts at U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil; negotiations with the former Soviet Republics to lease transmitters formerly used to jam VOA signals; and development of the first-ever TV/radio/Internet simulcast to Asia.

He has been a Web activist and new technology adopter, creating and running grassroots Web campaigns, including "" a successful effort to stop California phone companies from "overlaying" and removing community "area codes."

Among the awards Fouts has received are the Presidential Management Fellowship in 1991, and other distinguished service awards for his work in the U.S. government. In 2001 he was recognized as one of the Digital Coast's "Top 100 Survivors" of the digital community of the Western United States.

Fouts is a member of the Public Diplomacy Council at the George Washington University. He serves on the board of the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles, The UCLA Communications Board, and the Friends of Washoe Foundation. He is on the editorial board of Games and Culture: A Journal of Interacative Media (Sage).


Public Diplomacy and MMOGs: Rethinking Foreign Policy, Cultural Understanding, and Peace through Play Presentation part of the "Extending the Reach of Games" Symposium
Symposium, Thursday (3:15 - 4:45) in Hall of Ideas F

Transformation of the global information culture has deep and fundamental implications for politics and public diplomacy - dampening (or reversing) the effectiveness of traditional public diplomacy campaigns while opening up new opportunities that are not on the radar of public affairs people doing "business as usual." For example, relationships formed in the virtual gaming world transcend traditional geopolitical and geosocial boundaries; weblogs played a key role in the last Korean election, and text messages sparked rallies during the recent Spanish elections. Radical movements of every political stripe, from left-wing antiglobalists to religious fundamentalists (Christian, Muslim, Hindu), are fully conversant with the dynamics of these technologies, while their governments are not. The bureaucratic obesity of national governments, including our own, often precludes awareness of, much well informed less response to, these emergent phenomena as they happen.

These changes present new research challenges, as well as new opportunities for developing and projects with long-term, real world social impact.

We are attempting to understand the relationships between many-to-many technologies - networked interaction on a mass scale - and public diplomacy. Our goal in this presentation will be to describe how massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) can facilitate intercultural dialogue among various groups and serve as a venue and opportunity for rethinking public diplomacy. Early research has confirmed that within these spaces, there is a unique opportunity to create, foster and sustain intercultural dialogue and that perception of national values, ideals, and character are both reinforced and altered by the real time interactions that occur in these spaces.

We believe MMOGs function as communication networks in at least three different ways:
As one-to-many networks (developer to community). Virtual worlds, in other words, are created by a team of developers and include assumptions, values and beliefs in the structure, design, and art of the game.
As many-to-many networks. Virtual worlds are networked communication systems, which allow for interactive chat, internal email, and private and public messaging. Communication can occur among and between any of the online participants in a multitude of configurations.
As one-to-many networks (player to community). Virtual worlds also offer individual players increasing access to a new form of "broadcast." from things as basic as avatar appearance and selection to the ability to create and display objects or messages in public forums or virtual space.

What is Public Diplomacy?
Traditional definitions of public diplomacy include government-sponsored cultural, educational and informational programs, citizen exchanges and broadcasts used to promote the national interest of a country through understanding, informing, and influencing foreign audiences.

The USC Center on Public Diplomacy (CPD) views the field much more broadly. In addition to government sponsored programs, the Center is equally concerned with aspects of what CPD board member, Joseph Nye has labeled "soft power." The Center studies the impact of private activities - from popular culture to fashion to sports to news to the Internet - that inevitably, if not purposefully, have an impact on foreign policy and national security as well as on trade, tourism and other national interests. Moreover, the Center's points of inquiry are not limited to U.S. governmental activities, but examine public diplomacy as it pertains to a wide range of institutions and governments around the globe.

Unlike standard diplomacy, which might be described as the ways in which government leaders communicate with each other at the highest levels, public diplomacy focuses on the ways in which a country (or multi-lateral organization such as the United Nations), acting deliberately or inadvertently, through both official and private individuals and institutions, communicates with citizens in other societies. But like standard diplomacy, it starts from the premise that dialogue, rather than a sales pitch, is often central to achieving the goals of foreign policy. To be effective, public diplomacy must be seen as a two-way street. It involves not only shaping the message(s) that a country wishes to present abroad, but also analyzing and understanding the ways that the message is interpreted by diverse societies and developing the tools of listening and conversation as well as the tools of persuasion.

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