January 10, 2014

The American Studies Association is a relatively small professional association of scholars, but suddenly it has made an enormous impact on the public discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On Dec. 16, the ASA endorsed an “academic boycott” of Israeli universities. It was a victory for what is known as the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement, which began in 2005 but has been largely unknown in the United States until now.

This week, after many months of preparation two of China's leading educational institutions, Peking University and Tsinghua University, joined the EdX online educational consortium by providing six courses available without charge online. China now has officially entered the movement known as the Massive Online Open Courses, or MOOC.

As Chinese swell the ranks at western universities, the numbers of foreign students studying in China are also burgeoning -- increasing by 10% in a year to more than 290,000 in 2011, according to the Chinese Ministry of Education (MOE).

Early in the fall semester, the University of Pittsburgh's Panthers for Israel group kicked off the year with free giveaways, music and a creative twist. Three renowned graffiti artists from New York attracted hundreds of Pitt students as they painted an homage to Pittsburgh and Israel on campus walls.

Programme fellows will meet once every two weeks to learn things such as “techniques of hasbara, standing before an audience...image of Israel in the world, Palestinian society and key topics in the world of diplomacy.” Fellows are promised “strategic tours to ‘burning’ sites on the public agenda” and encounters with “spokespersons and experts amongst the best in their fields.”

On Sept. 28, the university hosted a group of diplomats from the Republic of Liberia, including Foreign Affairs Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngfuan, Rural Communications Director Patrick Honnah and Assistant Minister of Public Affairs Horatio Bobby Willie.

Michigan State University student Brisbane Asekome spent her summer serving as a student ambassador at the 2012 World Expo in Yeosu, Korea. As a student ambassador, she was on the front lines of U.S. public diplomacy efforts as the public face of the USA Pavilion 2012.

China and Thailand have agreed to exchange educational and cultural systems in which both countries will send language instructors to train children of their countries in preparations for the Asean Economic Community (AEC) which will kick off in 2015, said Education Minister Suchart Thada-Thamrongvech.