WILLIAMSTOWN, Massachusetts — In a world where war is seemingly commonplace, the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy tries to promote a more peaceful type of international relations. ICD is a non-profit that spreads the exchange of cultural ideas and dialogue in order to foster more positive relationships between countries.
Established in 1999, the ICD contains three main programs: the Academy for Cultural Diplomacy, Youth Education and Development Advancement, and Human Rights and Global Peace.
The programs range from week-long seminars for undergraduate students, to international conferences hosted for thousands of academics, politicians, journalists and scholars.
In 2011, the ICD was able to gain recognition for the field of cultural diplomacy at the graduate and post-graduate level. On July 3, 2014, the first class of students to complete a master’s degree in cultural diplomacy graduated from the ACD.
Along with educating future diplomats, the ACD is constantly conducting research about the most important developments in the field of cultural diplomacy. Its publications are available in public archives, as well as spread through speeches and academic presentations.
ACD President Emil Constantinescu defines cultural diplomacy as “a course of actions, which are based on and utilize the exchange of ideas, values, traditions and other aspects of culture or identity, whether to strengthen relationships, enhance socio-cultural cooperation or promote national interests.”
The ICD preaches the use of ‘soft power’ in conducting international relations rather than ‘hard power.’
Joseph Nye, a renowned political scientist, famously described the distinction between soft power and hard power. He explained soft power as “the ability to persuade through culture, values and ideas, as opposed to ‘hard power,’ which conquers or coerces through military might.”
Hard power is a strategy often favored by governments. One need only look to history to reveal the many times leaders turned to force rather than diplomatic coercion to solve their issues.
However, the founders of ICD hope violent interactions will be replaced more frequently by peaceful negotiations thanks to their programs; the ICD’s global internship projects have created networks of young leaders spreading goodwill and sharing diverse cultures.
In the words of ACD President Constantinescu, successful cultural diplomacy “can lead to a better understanding not only between groups and peoples, but also of the world we live in, as a whole.”
– Grace Flaherty