Image via iStock

Geopolitics of International Education and Public Diplomacy

The emergence of an era of new geopolitics is arguably one of the most defining features of the 21st century. This contemporary global political landscape has raised new questions and concerns for international education surrounding our engagement and relationship with maligned actors and forces. 

International education is defined as a wide range of "activities that link people and educational institutions." It is considered an important tool of public diplomacy that can enhance a country's soft power through educational exchanges that can build its diplomatic relations and strengthen its global positioning.

Roopa Desai Trilokekar, CPD's 2021 Canada-U.S. Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in PD, will discuss her current research, which examines the nature of the relationship between public diplomacy and national security when it comes to international education and how this is shifting in the context of new geopolitics. Trilokekar’s research examines a comparative case study analysis between the U.S. and Canada, and our discussion with her will illuminate this changing relationship by addressing two research questions: 1) How do increased concerns of national security impact international education as a public diplomacy tool? 2) How do these shifting discourses impact the role of universities as critical non-state public diplomacy actors? Moderating this conversation is Joëlle Uzarski, the U.S. Department of State Public Diplomat in Residence (2020–2022) at CPD. 

Register here.

About Roopa Desai Trilokekar

Roopa Desai Trilokekar is Associate Professor (Post-Secondary Education) in the Faculty of Education, York University. She comes to an academic career after 20 years of experience as a professional in the field of international education in Canada, India and the U.S. Her 2020 co-edited book International Education as Public Policy in Canada, along with Merli Tamtik (Manitoba) and Glenn A. Jones (Toronto) was awarded the Catalyst Award by the Canadian Bureau of International Education for bringing cutting‐edge knowledge to the field of international education and made it to The Hill Times’ List of 100 Best Books in 2020.

Her most recent research looks at a discourse analysis of the ‘International Students as ideal immigrants’ global policy discourse across Australia, Germany and Canada, funded by The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). She has also recently completed a project with IRCC titled, "What distinguishes the international student experience in the Canadian labour market? A comparison of Two Provinces." Her current work is also focused on international education as a soft power/public diplomacy tool in the context of shifting/new geopolitics. She was awarded a Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California (2020–2021 academic year) for her project titled, "International Education as Soft Power: Its relevance in a world of changing U.S.-Canada relations and new geopolitics."

About Joëlle Uzarski

Joëlle Uzarski joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 2005. She served overseas at the U.S. embassies in Brazil, Chile, India, Pakistan and Thailand, where she directed State Department educational and cultural programs in 19 countries. Her most recent assignment was Cultural Attaché in Brasilia. In Washington, D.C., in 2005–06, she was the Program Officer for the English Access Microscholarship Program worldwide.   

Prior to becoming a diplomat, Uzarski trained teachers and taught students in Korea, Brazil and Spain, and she was a State Department Senior English Language Fellow in Uzbekistan. She earned a B.A. in Creative Writing and a Master’s in Applied Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is from Chicago. She is currently the USC Public Diplomat in Residence.  


Visit CPD's Online Library

Explore CPD's vast online database featuring the latest books, articles, speeches and information on international organizations dedicated to public diplomacy.