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APDS Conference: Harmony or Discord

Exploring the Impact of Music Diplomacy

When: Feb 13th, 8:30am - 5:00pm. Reception to follow
Where: Annenberg Auditorium

This is a free event
To RSVP, click here.

Music has the potential to transcend social, political and cultural differences and tap into the shared essence of what makes us all human. Today, music is being explored as a useful “common ground,” upon which artists, diplomats, activists and peace builders have found innovative ways to establish social consciousness and change. At this conference, musical artists, academics, and experts share their experiences in using music to strengthen relationships in the global community. An interactive day of voices, instruments and dance, this event will explore real-world examples of how music can enhance an international actor’s efforts to engage with foreign publics, will question assumptions about the power of music,and will examine the effectiveness of this art form in international affairs, global development, and social justice efforts.

This conference will:

  • Stir conversation about the role of music in international relations
  • Challenge conventional wisdom about the “universal language” of music
  • Stimulate innovative thinking about solving global issues
  • Provide opportunities to network with leaders in international affairs, arts, and public diplomacy

Topics covered:

  • Music & Human Psychology
  • Historical context: Music & Diplomacy
  • Non-state actors: Music, Social Change and global Development
  • International Exchange: US Department of State sponsored music diplomacy initiatives


8:30am: Conference Registration - Breakfast

9:00am- 9:05am: Opening Remarks  

9:10am - 9:25am: Music and Human Psychology

  • Assal Habibi (USC Brain and Creativity Institute)

9:30am - 10:45am: From the Top: Music and Diplomacy 

This session will provide historical context and foundations for how music has contributed to diplomacy. Speakers include the editors of the recent book 'Music and Diplomacy: From Modern Era to the Present'. 

  • Nicholas J, Cull (USC Annenberg)
  • Rebekah Ahrendt (Yale University)
  • Damien Mahiet (Cornell University)

10:50am - 11:10am: Interactive Presentation: Hip-hop Diplomacy

  • Anas Canon (Performing Artist)

​​11:10am - 11:20am: Break

11:20am - 12:40pm: Music and Social Change 

The second  session includes presentations and debates about non-state actors' use of music in their efforts to facilitate cross-cultural dialog, create social change, and promote human rights.

  • Nora Rahimian (#CultureFix)
  • Melissa Fitch ( University of Arizona)
  • Jason Parks (Rhythm of the Universe)
  • Mamak Khadem (Performing Artist)

12:45pm - 1:00pm : Performance: Uyanga

1:00pm - 1:30pm: Lunch

1:35pm - 1:55pm: Keynote: The Impact of International Exchange Programs

  • Paul Rockower (Levantine Public Diplomacy)

2:00pm - 2:10pm Performance : JocElyn Ellis

2:15pm - 3:40pm: U.S. Department of States sponsored Music Diplomacy Programs

This session focuses on various music diplomacy programs that are sponsored by the State Department such as Next Level, OneBeat, American Music Abroad, and MIMA 

  • Daniel French (OneBeat)
  • Jeremy Thal (OneBeat)
  • Alan Gaskill (MIMA)
  • JocElyn Ellis (Next Level)
  • Paul Rockower (American Music Abroad)
  • Krysta Close (Polish Music Center)

3:45pm - 3:55pm: Performance, Cracow Duo

4:00pm - 4:45pm:  Workshop, Alan Gaskill, MIMA 

5:00pm - 6:00pm  Mixer  

The Audience include students, scholars, practitioners and industry leaders in: International Affairs, Music Industry, Public Diplomacy, Political Science, Entertainment Industry, Human Rights, Non-governmental organizations/ Civil Society Organizations, Public Policy, International law, Arts and Cultural Organizations, Anthropology, Strategic Communications, Advocacy Groups, Social Marketing, Education

We look forward to seeing you,
2015 APDS Conference Chairs:
Sohaela Amiri, Alina Evans, Michele Johnsen, Elise Welch


CPD is proud to be a co-sponsor of this event along with APDS, the USC Master of Public Diplomacy Program, the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and USC Graduate Student Government.



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