Publication Date

Spring 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Interdisciplinary Studies


William J. Reckmeyer


diplomacy, global, Iran, public diplomacy, systems theory, US-Iran

Subject Areas

International relations; Political Science; Communication


Complex global challenges – including environmental, economic, diplomatic, and health-related – span national boundaries and increasingly necessitate international cooperation. As a result, diplomacy has broadened from government-to-government relations to include government-to-public relations in an extended constituency of the global whole. Public diplomacy is a process by which governments attempt to attract and persuade various external publics to maintain relationships and encourage an environment for the approval of policies. Examining globalization, diplomacy, and power provides the foundation to assess a specific case of US public diplomacy with Iran. Systems theory provides a focus on the critical interactions, feedback processes, and relationships that are particularly helpful for analyzing public diplomacy in our global world.

The history of US-Iran bilateral relations reflects embedded negative perceptions that each nation has for the other, maintaining a relationship of enmity. The findings of this thesis most notably suggest that public diplomacy should be an integral part of any diplomatic effort, necessitating credibility and legitimacy to function best. The Obama administration’s efforts have been successful in some specific diplomatic developments, yet internal and external conflicts impede the building and maintenance of the essential elements that are needed for sustainable, meaningful public diplomacy.