Written by Philip A. Bristol, Public Diplomacy/Law Graduate Student, Syracuse University
As many of my colleagues and classmates are scattered all over the globe in exotic places engaging in varying forms of Public Diplomacy I am here in Syracuse. I am working two very different summer jobs that have me engaging in public diplomacy on a daily basis. So how can a graduate student engage in public diplomacy when he hasn’t even left the country? PD is, after all, an international field of study, right? The truth of the matter is that the practical application of PD can be found in both of my summer jobs.
My first job, one that I started last fall, is as a research assistant for The Center for Indigenous Law, Governance & Citizenship at the Syracuse University College of Law. (Yes I am also a Law student.) My current research project is one that combines law, political science, anthropology, and even a little sociology. I am researching the concept of citizenship. The current focus is in defining citizenship and how is it formed. These basic questions of identity and status are the foundations of all of my PD classmates’ summer work. Without states and citizenry, there would be no need for establishing and maintaining relationships between the citizens of different states.
Yet these are questions that are often taken for granted. I was in a foreign land- Germany- learning a new language, eating different food, and observing different cultural nuances before I first started to explore how much of my identity was shaped by my citizenship. My citizenship affected both what I saw when I looked in the mirror and what all of my German classmates saw when they looked at me. I was a walking statement about the US.
My boss at the Center for Indigenous Law, Governance and Citizenship is researching how the social and legal identity of citizenship is formed. Her goal is to help Indigenous Tribal Governments form more traditional and culturally accurate tribal membership laws. There has been a trend towards using blood quantum as the basis of tribal citizenship. Basically, if you do not have enough Indian blood you cannot / must not be an Indian. In many of the Tribes, however, the traditional concern was not blood rather the individual’s contribution to the community. Strangers who contributed where likely to be adopted into the community and members who did not were likely to be asked to shape up or leave.
The second job is an Instructors Assistant for one of the required classes for new Masters Students at S.I. Newhouse: Graphics. The materials that I am teaching are not directly related to diplomacy; however, I am much more than just an Instructional Assistant. I am a direct connection between the new students and previous cohorts with which I have studied. In this way, I am engaging in public diplomacy between the different classes and different programs within the S.I. Newhouse graduate school family.
I have truly enjoyed both of my summer jobs. It has been a bit hectic, but I like being busy. (I would not be doing two Masters as well as Law school if that was not the case.) I know that for me the practical application of academic theories especially in the world of state-to-state relations is where I will thrive.