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Led by two faculty members from the College of Communication and Information, UT students will explore topics of national importance and influence policy this fall as part of the US Department of State’s Diplomacy Labs.

The State Department accepted seminar proposals from Stuart N. Brotman, Howard Distinguished Endowed Professor of Media Management and Law and Beaman Professor of Journalism and Electronic Media, and Michelle Violanti, an associate professor in the School of Communication Studies.

“CCI faculty have been very active in leading Diplomacy Lab projects,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “Each seminar has provided a unique and interesting learning experience for our students, with an added bonus of contributing to the diplomatic efforts of our country. We look forward to seeing what these latest projects yield for our students and the US Department of State.”

Stuart N. Brotman
Stuart N. Brotman

For Brotman, this is the fourth Diplomacy Lab seminar he’s led—the most of any UT professor.

His project, Countering Disinformation through Storytelling, takes a fresh look at how diplomats and program designers use stories to connect to people around the world, create shared knowledge around policy priorities, and offer factual information that still resonates with people’s emotions.

Violanti is leading her first Diplomacy Lab. Her project, Analysis of Public Affairs Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives, will be conducted during two semesters. Students will learn how to develop effective basic and applied research questions, appropriate data collection methods for answering those questions, and analyze collected data. A standard survey template will be developed that can be administered annually or as needed to gauge progress toward increasing diversity and inclusion.

UT’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy has been a partner in the Department of State’s Diplomacy Lab program since fall 2015. Students and faculty have the opportunity to contribute directly to the policy-making process by engaging with the State Department through videos and teleconferences.

The project allows students to establish partnerships with policy makers, explore real-world challenges, and present their research to State Department officials.


Katie Cahill (865-974-8681,

Amy Blakely (885-974-5034,