Survey of American Alumni of the JET Program

imageEmily Metzgar, Assistant Professor at Indiana University School of Journalism teaching public diplomacy, is conducting a survey of American alumni of the Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Program. Although full participation in the survey is limited to Americans who participated in the JET Program, the survey link provides an opportunity for all interested parties to request updates about research.

The purpose of the survey is to track the educational and professional career tracks of American JET alumni and to assess their opinions of Japan and the continuing impact of JET on their lives years after finishing the program. The survey has been approved by Indiana University’s Institutional Review Board and will remain active until midnight (EST) on Wednesday, March 9, 2011. The survey is available here.

From Emily:

The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program has a more than 20-year history influencing the U.S.-Japan bilateral relationship. The importance of the program and others like it was emphasized by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian & Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in July 2010. Referring to the JET Program and Fulbright exchanges in particular, Campbell said bilateral cooperation “must go beyond our governments… We have to tap into the challenge of our people, their creativity and innovation, and their ability to forge lasting relationships that build trust and understanding.”

Such sentiment has long served as primary motivation for the establishment and promotion of public diplomacy programs. While anecdotal evidence about the impact of the JET Program as a public diplomacy effort abounds, tangible details about the actual scope and impact are more elusive. As a professor at Indiana University and as a researcher whose work focuses on public diplomacy, political communication and social media, I am interested in trying to measure the impact of public diplomacy efforts in a more tangible way. As an alumnus of the JET Program, I have the additional interest of devising a way to evaluate the impact of more than 20 years and more than 20,000 American alumni’s influence on the U.S.-Japan relationship as a whole.

This study has three primary objectives. The first is discussion of emerging public diplomacy theory in a tangible context. The second is collection of data about the large pool of JET Program alumni in the United States and their degree of connection to or affinity with Japan years after their participation in the program. The third objective is a combination of theoretical input with other data to discuss ways in which the JET Program’s impact on the American political, media and public opinion environments can be meaningfully evaluated.

I am happy to answer any questions about this research and would be delighted to keep you informed about the survey’s progress and eventual results. Please feel free to contact me through my page at Indiana University.