Culture is central to international relations. In many ways it is at the heart of many of the most important issues facing the world today.
Numerous individuals or groups have staked a place on the world stage by linking cultural aspirations with political action. Culture expresses and shapes political action and intentions and influences the ways nations and other groups choose to achieve their goals. Culture influences values, world-views, and the structure of human relationships. It influences the decisions of leaders, affects foreign policy and the ways in which nations and societies promote themselves. However, the role of culture in international relations is highly controversial, especially when universal Western values are cited in confrontations with non-Western cultures.
Since the 1920s, governments have often tried to use culture in foreign affairs, promoting their own language, music, media and views overseas through cultural diplomacy, but also in more aggressive propaganda and ideological battles. Some countries (such as Germany and Japan) made cultural relations and exchange a central pillar of their foreign policy alongside security and economic activities. International organisations have also tried to benefit from cultural diplomacy and by developing cultural internationalism.
Today, there is a wide range of key issues including: threats to cultural diversity and cultural rights, the role of culture in conflict and security – but also in cooperation, in conflicts between nationalism and internationalism, and the role of culture in the global economy. Culture, cultural diplomacy and particular institutional cultures therefore form important parts of national strategy.
Despite globalisation, no single dominant global culture has completely filled the global system, and we live in a multipolar and multi-civilisational world where cultural relations go well beyond relations between nation states and people interact more than ever on digital communications media.
The Institute for International Cultural Relations
The Centre of Cultural Relations was established in 2013 then renamed to the Institite for International Cultural Relations in 2017 and is situated in the School of Social and Political Science in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science. The IICR acts as a catalyst for methodologically rigorous interdisciplinary scholarship across the whole University, and as a bridge to practice. It also aims to connect with an internationally and inter-culturally diverse array of real-world communities, to help them face the many practical challenges they confront today.
Direct engagement and partnerships with external decision-maker, policy and practitioner communities are a unique strength of the IICR’s educational and research programmes.
This vision is summarised by the objective of the IICR to be both applied in focus and global in reach. This vision is reflected in the commitment of the IICRcommunity to expand and deepen our connections to decision-maker, policy and practitioner communities across the planet. As part of the global objective, the IICR aims to grow into an international educational ambassador for excellence in innovation and leadership on the interfaces between social science and public policy. A priority for the IICR is to expand the impact of our expertise and research to a global audience.