Soft power in the Arab Spring context: A growing role for cultural diplomacy

Crawford School of Public Policy

Event details

Executive Education

Date & time

Thursday 19 July 2012


Seminar Room 6, Crawford School of Public Policy, #132 Lennox Crossing, ANU


Ambassador Professor Cynthia Schneider


Marjorie Pashley
02 6125 2154
It was Milton Cummings who classically defined cultural diplomacy as “the exchange of ideas, information, values, systems, traditions, beliefs, and other aspects of culture, with the intention of fostering mutual understanding”. Ambassador Cynthia Schneider argues that the ground-breaking events of the Arab Spring herald a new future for global cultural diplomacy, through the powerful and demonstrated capacity of digital social media to reach out and empower ordinary citizens, as well as the capacity of artists and creative expression to reveal the “voice of the people”. In this masterclass, Ambassador Schneider will outline powerful examples of how culture, arts and electronic media are providing opportunities for public expression and transforming mutual perceptions both in the East and the West, by emphasising shared human values. The internet as an enabler has made the arts, movies, reality TV, comedy, satire, game shows, radio and music reach out to far more men, women and children in cultures globally than the traditional arts and cultural fora that hitherto remained elitist and/or inaccessible to ordinary people. Meanwhile subterranean cyberspace citizen advocacy as well as grass-roots movements are continuing to thrive despite the iron yoke of censorship or brutal repression in countries as far afield as Syria, Iran and China. Ambassador Schneider discusses the case for an intensified effort in cultural diplomacy integrated side-by-side with traditional diplomatic avenues to better harness the burgeoning wellspring of cultural expression and aspirations by ordinary citizenry globally.

Ambassador Cynthia P. Schneider is Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, Georgetown University and Professorial Fellow at the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University. Prof Schneider teaches, publishes, and organizes initiatives in the field of cultural diplomacy, with a focus on relations with the Muslim world.

Course fee is $1100 GST inclusive.

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