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The Information War over Ukraine

The public dimension of diplomacy is front and center in the current standoff between the West and Russia about Ukraine. While conventional diplomatic processes have continued, both sides have pursued unprecedented public information campaigns to shape narrative and opinion. The central role of information in contemporary statecraft is unmistakable, given the increasingly competitive, transparent communication environment. In this program, USC experts will discuss what these developments mean for geopolitical dynamics in the region and new realities in public diplomacy—the conduct of global affairs through communication.

On February 24, 2022  Nicholas J. Cull, CPD Faculty Fellow and Professor of Public Diplomacy (USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism); Adam Yehia Elrashidi, Media Center Leadership Initiative Fellow 2021–22 (USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism); Robert English, Associate Professor of International Relations, Slavic Languages and Literature and Environmental Studies (USC School of International Relations); Katarzyna Pisarska, CPD Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor (Warsaw School of Economics) and Founder & Director of the European Academy of Diplomacy in Poland; and Jay Wang, Director, USC Center on Public Diplomacy and Associate Professor (USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism), joined for a moderated conversation and took plenty of audience questions.


Nicholas J. Cull

Nicholas J. Cull is Professor of Public Diplomacy, Founding Director of the Master’s Program in Public Diplomacy at USC and a CPD Faculty Fellow. His research and teaching focus on the role of public engagement in foreign policy. An acknowledged pioneer in public diplomacy teaching and research and its best-known historian, he is the author of The Cold War and the United States Information Agency: American Propaganda and Public Diplomacy, 1945-1989 (Cambridge, 2008); The Decline and Fall of the United States Information Agency: American Public Diplomacy, 1989-2001 (Palgrave, 2012) and the recently published Public Diplomacy: Foundations for Global Engagement in the Digital Age (Polity, 2019). He and his research were featured in the Peabody award-winning documentary film, Jazz Ambassadors (PBS/BBC 2018). His first book was Selling War (Oxford, 1995), a study of British information work in the United States before Pearl Harbor.

Adam Yehia Elrashidi

Adam Elrashidi is an award-winning producer, editorial cartoonist and USC Annenberg Media Center Leadership Initiative Fellow (2021–22). Elrashidi worked in Washington, D.C., as a field producer and reporter for Newsy, where he wrote, anchored, produced and edited multiple news stories daily and served as an on-air host and presenter. Prior to Newsy, Elrashidi was a showrunner for “The Stream,” live, award-winning, social media-driven current affairs discussion program on Al Jazeera English where he produced interactive, engaging conversations that helped to amplify the voices of communities in some of the world’s most underreported regions. In 2017, Elrashidi won a New York Festivals Silver World Medal award for his team’s coverage of protests in Ethiopia. Elrashidi is also an accomplished illustrator. He has won two Society of Professional Journalists awards for editorial cartooning, and his work has been featured by such media outlets as CNN, The Huffington Post and Game Informer Magazine. His commentary on the intersection of race and comic books was also showcased in the award-winning documentary Drawn Together: Comics, Diversity and Stereotypes, which was featured on PBS and at dozens of festivals, including the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con International. Elrashidi holds an MA in media studies from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota.

Robert English

Robert English is on the faculty of the USC School of International Relations and served as the School’s director from 2013–2016. He is currently Co-Director of Central European Studies and holds joint appointments in Slavic Languages and Literature and Environmental Studies. At USC since 2001, he previously taught at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (1998–2001) and, prior to that, worked as a policy analyst in the U.S. Department of Defense and Committee for National Security (1982–1987). He holds both a Master of Public Affairs and Doctorate in Politics from Princeton University (1982, 1995) and a bachelor's degree in history and Slavic studies from the University of California, Berkeley (1980). English is author, co-author or editor of several books including Russia and the Idea of the West: Gorbachev, Intellectuals, and the End of the Cold War (Columbia University Press, 2000) and articles in such journals as International Security, Foreign Affairs, Diplomatic History, European Review of History, The National Interest and Global Dialogue. English is principal investigator for a multi-scholar project on Arctic geopolitics and is also working simultaneously on two book projects: one is a study of Russia’s Balkan diplomacy titled Our Serbian Brethren and the other is a political biography of Mikhail Gorbachev.   

Katarzyna Pisarska

Katarzyna Pisarska is CPD Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor at the Warsaw School of Economics and the Founder & Director of the European Academy of Diplomacy in Poland. She is also Program Director of the Warsaw Security Forum and a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum in Davos. In 2013 Pisarska was named “99 under 33” most influential world foreign policy leaders by the Diplomatic Courier in Washington, D.C. Previously, Pisarska was a CPD Visiting Scholar (2019), a Fulbright Visiting Fellow at Harvard University (2007), a Visiting Scholar at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (2010), at the University of Oslo (2012) and at Australian National University (2015). In her work, Pisarska combines both her academic and practitioner experience in the field of public diplomacy. She is the author of the book, The Domestic Dimension of Public Diplomacy: Evaluating Success Through Civil Engagement (Palgrave 2016). She specializes also in EU foreign policy, Eastern Partnership and EU-Russia relations.

Jay Wang

Jay Wang is Director of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy and Associate Professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He previously worked for the international consulting firm McKinsey & Company, where he advised clients on matters of communication strategy and implementation across a variety of industries and sectors. Wang has written widely on the role of communication in the contemporary process of globalization. He is co-editor of the newly published book, Debating Public Diplomacy: Now and Next. He is author of Shaping China’s Global Imagination: Nation Branding at the World Expo and several other books. He serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Communication.


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