In reply to Professor Graig Hayden's thoughtful article, "In the interest of informed debate," InterMap:
On the one side of the coin, you have what I'd call Twi'lek twitterers: 140 characters in cyberspace will solve American image/public diplomacy problems now! On the flip side you have academe's over-conceptualizers: what's needed are the latest social-science (often quantitative and survey-driven) studies of PD to make it effective and productive.
But let's consider the golden middle: in-depth discussions, face-to-face, on US public diplomacy -- and efforts to improve it -- based on history and experience, including the current realities of practicing public diplomacy today by American diplomats overseas.
Such a historical, "let's be-concrete" but substantive perspective does not exclude (well, not quite) mindless twittering or overly "mindful" conceptualizing. It just puts these two approaches -- quite similar in their avoidance of the complexities of life, one by superficiality, the other by abstraction -- in their proper intellectual/policy place.
As for academics engaged in arcane PD theory, examples of their work can be seen in abundance, and on a continuing basis, in Bruce Gregory's outstanding Updated Public Diplomacy Resources and the equally excellent Literature on Public Diplomacy of The Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’ Library and Documentation Centre.
As for preparing for a public-diplomacy career, I think that, far more important than an advanced degree in public diplomacy, are the following: thinking and writing clearly; in-depth exposure to the humanities; a historical perspective; knowledge of foreign language(s); wide overseas experience; and keeping up to date with technological developments. Of course, a PD "degree" does not necessarily exclude these matters, but it's a question of what should be a priority.
Regarding professors' ability to engage persons in the last three feet, so important in public diplomacy, the legendary rudeness and bad manners of socially club-footed academics ("the mad professor" trope) -- uncouth behavior I have endured on perhaps too many occasions, while in academic settings, since leaving the Foreign Service -- are also in not infrequent evidence among university/think tank experts in public diplomacy. There are, of course, numerous exceptions, as is always the case in life, Craig Hayden being among them. Indeed, I was honored and delighted that he addressed and enlightened my Georgetown class.