The diverse ways in which societies interact, such as around international sporting tournaments like the World Cup or political movements like the Arab Spring, will be the focus of a new centre.
The Centre for Cultural Relations is the first of its kind in the world. It has been established to meet a global need to better understand the expanding range of exchanges between societies.
As traditional channels of influence such as governmental diplomacy and hard power increasingly compete with non-state actors - devolved institutions in Scotland, cities like London, corporations, media, cultural organisations, activists mobilised through social media - the Centre will examine and evaluate the changing relationships.
The Centre will promote the use of culture and education to deepen relations between groups or countries, by better understanding their practice, theory and impact for government, business, cultural organisations and individuals.
Its experts will look at how social and digital media make it easier for individuals to influence events and perceptions at an international level.
Societies now engage with each other in far more diverse ways than just through their governments – at big international events in culture and sport, new forms of business cooperation and, increasingly, in online communities. We need to know more about how this more diverse engagement is carried out and the impacts – and the benefits - it has. That’s what the new Centre is setting out to do.
The Centre will launch on with a lecture by Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council. It will take place in the University of Edinburgh’s Playfair Library Hall, Old College, South Bridge, at 5.30 p.m on 27 November
The British Council welcomes the establishment of a Centre for Cultural Relations at the University of Edinburgh; providing a fitting home for this initiative when one considers how Scotland's historic capital is renowned globally for its culture and learning - and for being perhaps the greatest cultural festival city in the world. And we look forward to a fruitful collaboration with the University as it establishes a centre for excellence for teaching and research in cultural relations.
Researchers at the Centre will conduct a world-class programme of study, collaborating with other universities in Scotland and internationally, and will impact on and inform public debate and policy through a high profile series of public events.
The initiative has been established following a feasibility study commissioned by the Scottish Government and the British Council.
The sharing of culture is a hugely powerful means of international dialogue. The Scottish Government worked with the University of Edinburgh and the British Council to develop the idea of a centre of excellence for cultural diplomacy based in Scotland, since there was no doubt in my mind that it would further enhance Scotland’s international reputation for creativity, innovation and imagination.The Centre for Cultural Relations has potential to be a source of international research, teaching and expertise for businesses and government, meeting Scottish needs, and providing wider understanding of the value of cultural activity and exchange.
Centre for Cultural Relations