The Australia India Institute's Director of External Affairs, Dr Nick Hill, will head to the Harvard Kennedy School to take part in the Senior Executives in National and International Security program.
The program is made up of a worldwide network of experts including academics, military, state bureaucrats and global policy makers.
Dr Hill was selected from a competitive application round and the Australia India Institute has continued to support his studies.
His involvement in the program was inspired by Joseph Nye, who is well know for coining the phrase "soft power". Soft power and public diplomacy are integral to a number of the program’s components. Dr Hill describes soft power as values-driven public diplomacy; how to encourage and persuade people about your values, combined with military and economic initiatives.
Dr Hill says, "The thing I want to discover, is at what point do states decide it is time to start reducing hard power activities and move to a soft power stance? Is there best practice in this field?”
The Obama administration are known as advocates of soft power approaches to foreign affairs.
"My real interest is about how people are implementing soft power and at what point are these people who work in national security, the bureaucrats and the state level people who manage this, going to say that it’s worth putting resources into soft power? In fact in Afghanistan the highest spend on soft power coming from the military; inculcating governance values, educating people, running language programs etc."
Dr Hill holds great aspirations for the coming opportunities the program will offer, allowing for person-to-person exchanges on an array of wider issues concerning diplomacy and international relations.
"For me the interest is in this nexus between the military hard power edge and where soft power interacts or intercedes with that. They work together. There is an enormous legacy value in people-to-people conduct, and this is the case with India I believe, and contact over a great number of years that sustains the relationship through difficulties.”
"Economic trade and military relationships are important of course, but the things that will last, and the things that give a deep and embedded understanding of each other’s cultures are the soft power attributes. So the fact that I spent two and a half years living in India doesn’t necessarily qualify me for trade or politics, but it gives one the heart, the soul, the feel for something; it makes it worth continuing a relationship.
"This understanding of countries, this nuanced feel for each other’s values happens at a person-to-person level, whether it’s senior diplomacy, foreign minister to foreign minister meeting each other, a trade mission, or the less high profile academic exchange. If they’ve spent time in each other’s countries, whether it's sports or having an education program, they get this greater understanding of one another, and I really believe in that."
For more information on the program, see Harvard University's website.
Image: Wally Gobetz/Flickr