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The Study-Abroad Solution

How to Open the American Mind

John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, holds the diplomatic passport he was issued at eleven years old, while greeting employees of the State Department in Washington, D.C., February 2013. Gary Cameron / Reuters

In the Internet age, the world feels far smaller than it used to. But many Americans still know little about the rest of the world and may be more detached from it than ever. Such a lack of awareness is, in certain respects, understandable. Once the Cold War ended, some 25 years ago, Congress, perhaps out of a false sense of security, cut the foreign affairs budget, which led to the closing of some U.S. overseas posts. The news media, especially the commercial television networks, took their cue and began to reduce overseas coverage—responding, they said, to the decline of public interest in such matters, which conveniently coincided with their own economic woes. Although the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq stimulated renewed attention to international events, that phenomenon proved short-lived. Consequently, as new global challenges have arisen in recent years, American discourse on world affairs

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