January 28, 2008 | HARMLESS UNTRUTHS

Message in a bottle

Maybe I should ask my loyal readers for their suggestions, too:

from	Jeff Gerhard
to	[redacted],
date	Jan 28, 2008 2:37 PM
subject	request for advice

Dear Professor [redacted] ,

I am a graduate student in Georgetown’s Liberal Studies Program, currently working on a thesis proposal for the International Affairs concentration. One of my professors, [redacted] , knew of your work and suggested that I contact you to discuss my thesis ideas. I also looked over the syllabus of your current course, [redacted] , and found it interesting and relevant. I wonder whether you might have the time to offer me feedback or suggestions on my topic, and perhaps to point me in the direction of any colleagues who are also experts in the ideas I am pursuing.

The broad topic I am proposing to research is ordinary Americans’ understanding of U.S. foreign policy and the impact of (new) media on American knowledge about international topics. The basis of my interest in the topic is my conviction that improved international relations require improved understanding of foreign-affairs issues by the general population. At the moment I am researching the topic in order to narrow it down to a thesis, but my personal expertise is in Central Europe, so I am considering analyzing how the U.S. media portrayed the decisions of the governments of Germany and Poland to respectively oppose and support the Iraq War, and what impact–if any–that portrayal had on American attitudes about those countries. (Also I speak German fairly well and lived in Poland at the time of the Iraq invasion, so I have personal experience and interest in those countries.)

Would you be willing to discuss this topic at some point in the coming weeks? I don’t want to impose upon you, but please let me know if you might have the time to talk it over. Do you have office hours or another time that might be convenient?

Thank you in advance.

Best regards,

Jeff Gerhard
MALS ’08