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Robert Kelley

Assistant Professor School of International Service

Robert Kelley is an assistant professor at the School of International Service, American University. Professor Kelley’s involvement in the study of public diplomacy over the last decade has coincided with a sharp increase in interest in the field, in which he has been an active contributor. He completed studies on the state of U.S. public diplomacy since 9/11 earning the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in International Relations at the London School of Economics. He subsequently developed this research while a Hayward R. Alker Postdoctoral Fellow at the USC Center for International Studies. Notable publications include the article “U.S. Public Diplomacy: A Cold War Success Story?” in the Hague Journal of Diplomacy (2007), “Between ‘Take-offs ‘ and ‘Crash Landings”: Situational Aspects of Public Diplomacy” in The Public Diplomacy Handbook edited by Nancy Snow and Philip M. Taylor (Routledge, 2008), “The New Diplomacy: Evolution of A Revolution” in Diplomacy and Statecraft (2010), and “Advisor Non Grata: The Dueling Roles of U.S. Public Diplomacy” in Trials of Engagement: The Future of US Public Diplomacy edited by Ali Fisher and Scott Lucas (Brill, 2011). In recent years, Kelley’s research has shifted toward the power and activities of nonstate actors in diplomatic affairs, the subject of his forthcoming book Agency Change: Diplomatic Action beyond the State (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). In 2012-13, Kelley directed the Intercultural Management Institute at American University setting a new course for the training and consulting of diplomatic corps around the world. Prior to entering academia, he worked at the U.S. Department of State and before that logged several years and thousands of frequent flyer miles in the world of international business consulting.


PhD, London School of Economics and Political Science; MA, International Peace and Conflict Resolution, American University; BA, International Relations, Tufts University

Favorite Spot on Campus
Jacobs Fitness Center
Book Currently Reading
Secondhand Time, by Svetlana Alexievich
Languages Spoken
Spanish, Japanese
SIS-School of Intl Service
East Quad Bldg - 107C
By appointment
Contact Info
(202) 885-1558

Send email to Robert Kelley

For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.


  • Spring 2018

    • SIS-628 Advanced Topics in Int'l Comm: Global Persp on Pub Diplomacy
    • Description
  • Summer 2018

  • Fall 2018

    • CORE-107 Complex Problems Seminar: Happiness Pursuit of Good Life
    • Description
    • SISU-106 First Year Seminar: Gross National Happiness
    • Description

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

I am mainly interested in linkages between non-state actors empowered by greater access to information and agents of change at the official level. My current research explores changing notion of the diplomat as an international actor, and how this is illustrated in contemporary political communication between states and non-state actors ranging from organizations to individuals.

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • Fellow, Transatlantic Project, LSE-IDEAS, London School of Economics
  • Post-doctoral fellow, Center for International Studies, University of Southern California, 2007-8