Berlin NPR – Institute of Cultural Diplomacy Kicks Off Annual Conference on Cultural Diplomacy

Berlin NPR - December 17th, 2012; Euna Lhee of the NPR reports of the opening day of the Annual Conference on Cultural Diplomacy. Overviewing the programme of the four-day event, this piece highlights lectures from former US Governor Stephen Merrill on the power of the internet as a tool for Cultural Diplomacy, and the Professor of Sociology, Politics, and Public Policy at the University of Bristol, Tariq Modood, on the merits of Cultural Diplomacy in promoting successful modes of integration between immigrant and local communities.
  December 17th, 2012

At ICD’s Annual Conference, Arts And Culture Promote Global Peace

By Euna Lhee

This past Thursday, the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy kicked of the opening day of their annual conference.

The four-day conference, hosted in Berlin, lined up an impressive array of guest speakers, including former prime ministers, governors, professors, and even heads of state. Participants ranged from students to scholars, who came from every corner of the world.

Many lectures addressed the use of arts and culture to promote democracy and global peace, which was this year’s conference theme. Former New Hampshire Governor Stephen Merrill was in attendance.

Governor Merrill believes the main vehicle for cultural diplomacy includes digital media.

“The internet is transformative in moving the dialogue of millions and millions of people who would have not been able to communicate about cultural issues in the past because they didn’t have the money or the opportunity,” Merrill said. “Now, the Internet is going to give them the opportunity.”

During the afternoon session, one speaker touched on a hot topic in Berlin, which was shown by the intense public debate that followed during the Q & A.

Tariq Modood, Professor of Sociology, Politics, and Public Policy at the University of Bristol, talked about modes of integration and tried to offer clarity on how to understand multiculturalism.

“I have German students of Turkish background who really want to be German, and they feel it’s easier to be German-Turkish in Britain,” Modood said after his lecture. “They feel that there is more respect for minorities in Britain than in Germany.”

He believes that it comes down to different conceptions of citizenship.

“I think that people feel that being German has something to do with being born German, or having German as your mother tongue,” Modood said. “They find it very difficult to accept people who are not of German blood, to accept them as German even if they were born in Germany, or even if their parents are born in Germany.”

The social components of the program took place during meal times, which usually included live music. At Thursday’s lunch, participants and speakers mingled over Pasta Bolognese, while Long John and His Ballroom Kings rocked out swing tunes like “Fly Me to the Moon” on their keyboard and guitar.