The U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group: Make Agent Orange History

Instructional Module and Simulation

Charles Bailey of the Aspen Institute leading students through the simulated meeting.

Charles Bailey of the Aspen Institute leading students
through the simulated meeting.

The Vietnam War left scars on both Vietnam and the United States that were only deepened in the aftermath of Agent Orange/Dioxin being sprayed over millions of acres of forests and farmland in Vietnam. For decades the detrimental health and environmental effects of Agent Orange have been a controversial subject for U.S./Vietnamese relations. In 2007, the Ford Foundation, led by Charles Bailey, the Foundation's Director of the Special Initiative on Agent Orange, convened the first meeting of a citizen-to-citizen dialogue group who were brought together to raise awareness of this troubling legacy of the Vietnam War.

This four-part instructional module is based on the case of the U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin. It combines reading and discussion on Track Two and Multi-track diplomacy with role-play simulating the Dialogue Group's first meeting. The reading and multimedia material provided with this module, discussion, skills exercises, and simulation will provide an understanding of how diplomacy techniques like citizen-to-citizen dialogue are used to resolve complex and often culturally sensitive problems where direct interactions between governments or organizations cannot be effective. It will be an invigorating exercise in critical thinking about Track Two diplomacy.

"I learned a lot about the topic of Agent Orange and its impact on Vietnam along with political implications and issues that are still being addressed today. I became more aware of how current foreign policies of countries are shaped. Learning about the U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue group, the Ford Foundation, and the Aspen Institute really drove home the point that a private initiative and citizens, not too unlike me, can play a remarkable role in complex humanitarian efforts."

— Margit Messner, Educator and Graduate Certificate Student
Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution