british council

Sharing culture is hard when you can't entertain another point of view, tough when you have to stick to your line, and impossible when what you say can immediately be turned into a headline and used as a stick to beat you. This is the lot of modern governments.

A new report report from the British Council investigates how and why ‘soft power’ is becoming more important in international relations – and why countries such as China, Korea and Brazil are making huge investments in it.

Issues including whether the humanities have a place in 21st-century nations will be among those discussed at the British Council's Going Global conference next year, it has been announced. The conference, which will be held on 4-6 March in Dubai, will have the central topic of universities' role in creating knowledge economies.

Cultural diplomacy is not about whose army wins any more, said professor Joseph Nye of Harvard University to Will Gompertz on the Today programme this morning; it's whose story wins. He calls it "soft power" – the influence of information technology is now a powerful weapon of mass empathy.

Nye has been one of America's leading political scientists, and a peacenik who has lectured on almost anything in relation to diplomatic politics except the arts. Now he has reached them at the international culture summit in Edinburgh, where he will debate "the role of arts and culture in deepening relationships between culture and nations".

For those of us committed to using cultural diplomacy as a significant force in advancing the national interest, that kind of condescending view is aggravating and we always welcome solid evidence that it is wrong.Such evidence comes now from the British Council...

At a time when Congress is skeptical about public diplomacy, the survey’s findings underscore the very substantive value of cultural connections. U.S. cultural diplomacy is robust and merits greater support from policymakers, and the British Council’s successes offer ample reasons for providing such support.