Miller Center

Seth Center

History, University of Virginia

Spreading the American Dream?: Power, Image, and U.S. Diplomacy, 1968–1976

Center photo

Seth Center is a Historian in the Special Projects Division of the Office of the Historian at the U.S. Department of State.

His principal duty consists of conducting policy-supportive historical analyses. He serves as historian for Deputy Secretary William J. Burns. 

Center is researching, writing, and managing the “Iraq History Project” focused on the role of diplomacy and diplomats in Iraq between 2003 and 2012. He is researching and writing the history of public diplomacy and “The War of Ideas” requested by the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. On the request of policymakers, including the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and Under Secretary, he produces short historical analyses and briefs to support budget justifications, policy formulation, and Congressional testimony. He is researching and writing a “Lessons Learned” study on historical case studies of learning in intelligence and policy for the Director of National Intelligence “Lessons Learned” initiative. In this role he supports historically-based departmental “Lessons Learned” projects with other bureaus and interagency partners including the intelligence community and military. Other duties include advising department principals on preserving and managing historical records; serving on the Department’s Electronic Records Working Group for the Under Secretary for Management; conducting oral histories with current and former officials including Secretaries of State, diplomats, military officers, and intelligence professionals; and briefing/lecturing internal government (diplomatic, intelligence, and military) audiences on US foreign policy, military and intelligence policy and history, and State Department history.

Center's dissertation examined how America's image-makers in the United States Information Agency defined America's image problems in the midst of the turmoil and transformations of the 1970s, designed a program focused on the Bicentennial of the American Revolution to allay global anxiety and hostility, and implemented public diplomacy effort overseas. It concluded with an analysis of the international response to the campaign. 

Fellowship year: 2007

Mentor: Emily Rosenberg, University of California, Irvine

Selected Recent Publications

The Evolution of American Public Diplomacy: Four Historical Insights, State Department Fact Sheet (December 2, 2013).
 

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