Document Type

Honors Project


The U.S. State Department conducts cultural exchanges with the purpose of encouraging participants to instigate changes in their home countries. Despite extensive efforts by programs to measure their impact on participants, these effects are only indirect correlates or background variables for the ultimate goal of direct action. This thesis explores the impact of State Department cultural exchanges with the Middle East by drawing on eight interviews with exchange administrators of numerous programs in Iraq and Jordan. The case studies of Iraq and Jordan allow more careful scrutiny of the types of factors, both internal and external to programs, that affect the impact of participants. I find that exchanges effectively target and select opinion leaders, bring together participants from across the Middle East, conduct measurement of their programs’ impact on participants, produce leaders with positive impressions of the U.S., and enable participants to enact small initiatives in their home countries. However, ultimately external factors, such as security in the case of Iraq, definitively limit participant impact.



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