This course explores the origins and successes of a music and radio-based cultural exchange program led by the US State Department during the Cold War. Through simulated radio shows, research projects and presentations, students explore the impact of Jazz artists, Blues musicians, radio disc jockeys and dancers who were employed to bridge the cultural gap between the United States and countries behind the Iron Curtain, perhaps modern history's most extreme cultural barrier. Nearly spanning the length of the Cold War itself, this program occurred during an era of enormous global and domestic social change. Students examine past and current social issues from several perspectives. Readings probe the global response to the use of soft diplomatic power in countries such as Poland, Japan and Iraq. Small group discussions and socratic dialogues uncover both past and current views on cultural exchange programs. Through discussion, students assess modern day attitudes on bridging cultural divides. Primary sources are used to highlight the views of both Americans and people from host countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The second paradigm of perspectives relates to various domestic social vectors that influenced the key players in this story. Here, we discuss the interaction between this Jazz ambassador program and the Civil Rights, Sexual Liberation and Anti-War movements. Additionally, strategic integration of conceptually-correlated current events illustrate the relevance of this analytical approach and provide students with additional opportunities to examine different perspectives.
NOTE: This course is offered as a hybrid with 50% required meeting times via Zoom and 50% required meeting times face to face.