Crossing Invisible Borders: Lessons in Guerilla Diplomacy from 25 Years on the Road for National Geographic

Crossing Invisible Borders: Lessons in Guerilla Diplomacy from 25 Years on the Road for National Geographic

Crossing Invisible Borders: Lessons in Guerilla Diplomacy from 25 Years on the Road for National Geographic

This event occurred in the past

Date and Time

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.


Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, Theatre

5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110




Writer and Former Senior Editor, National Geographic Magazine

Join the MS in Global Leadership (MSGL) and the MA in International Relations (MAIR) Programs as we welcome Don Belt, award-winning Writer and Former Senior Editor for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE. Don will be visiting campus to provide what promises to be an educational and awe-inspiring lecture titled: Crossing Invisible Borders: Lessons in Guerilla Diplomacy from 25 Years on the Road for National Geographic. 

Don Belt has traveled to 70 countries over the past three decades, working as a writer and editor of articles for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine. As senior editor of GEOGRAPHIC from 1998 to 2010, he helped to guide the magazine’s coverage of topics ranging from weapons of mass destruction and terrorism to the geopolitical trends that are shaping our world. His favorite speaking topics include the geopolitics of Water, Islam and the West, Lawrence of Arabia, local adaptations to climate change, and the legacy of colonialism in the modern Middle East.

Belt began working for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC as a freelance in 1981; his !rst story for the magazine, on Georgia’s Chattooga River, was published in the April 1983 issue. He joined the magazine’s Editorial Staff as a writer in 1985, and rose to become Associate Legends Editor in 1990, managing a staff of fifteen writers and researchers. He served as the magazine’s senior editor for expeditions for two years, and its foreign editor for eight. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’s chief international correspondent from 2006 to 2011, Belt now serves the magazine as an editorial consultant and Contributing Writer.

During his NGS career, Belt authored major articles on Russia’s Lake Baikal, Sweden, Baja California, Israel’s Galilee, the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, the Golan Heights, Lawrence of Arabia, Islam, the European Union, Pakistan, India, Syria, Arab Christians, and Cold War science in the Russian Arctic. His article about conlicts and cooperation over the Jordan River appeared in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’s April 2010 issue devoted entirely to Water. The May 2011 issue features his article about Bangladesh’s efforts to cope with global climate change. His most recent piece, on Mongolia, appeared in the October 2011 issue, and his article about the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq will appear in late 2014.

Belt also contributed to a number of Geographic book projects, including the critically acclaimed Atlas of North America, based on remote sensing images of the continent. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the National Geographic book, The World of Islam, a compilation of past Geographic articles on the Muslim world, and he helped to edit National Geographic’s Atlas of the Middle East (2008). His essays, “A Land Still in Turmoil” and “Searching for Miracles,” appear in Geographic special issues on the Holy Land (2009) and Sacred Journeys (2010).

Belt has been a featured guest on many radio and television programs, including The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, NPR’s Morning Edition, The Diane Rehm Show, CNN, MoneyLine, Fox and Friends, and newscasts around the U.S. and the world. A generous and entertaining presenter, Don has lectured on Middle Eastern geography and politics at George Washington University, and taught the craft of non-fiction writing at the Poynter Institute’s annual National Writers Workshop. He was a featured lecturer at the Chautauqua Institution in July 2012, speaking about Water issues and teaching master classes in writing. He serves as an adviser to the International Reporting Project at SAIS/Johns Hopkins University. He is a member of the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C., and the National Press Club.

Belt has received various awards for his writing, including the Award for Excellence from Communication Arts, an award of merit from the Overseas Press Club, and a First Place award from the North American Travel Writers Association. He was awarded a Pew Foundation Gatekeeper Fellowship to South Africa in 2002. His story on the Jordan River was a centerpiece of National Geographic’s special issue on Water, which won the National Magazine Award, in 2011. In 2004 he was presented with the University of South Carolina’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. And in 2013 he was inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame. He is based in northern Virginia.


Don Belt

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