TRUST spelled out in wooden blocks with letters on, white background with blue flowers
Why does Trust matter? Image ©

Alex Shute unsplash used under license, adapted from original

Tuesday 11 July 2023 -
14:00 to 15:30

Can cultural relations act as an antidote to growing mistrust and competition in international relations?

This event took place Online, via Teams Live on Tuesday 11 July 2023 at 14:00-15:30 BST.

You can access a recording of the event via this link: Panel recording: Can cultural relations act as an antidote to mistrust in international relations? 

Please note, this event was conducted in English to cater to a global audience. The video has closed captions. Please get in touch via if you require access to the transcript. 

Why does trust matter? Trust binds societies together. It allows international actors to interact and collaborate more freely in situations characterised by uncertainty. The absence of trust can lead to tension, misunderstandings, and even conflict.

The international political system is increasingly fragile. Climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resurgence of conflict in Europe have caused instability and unease. These events have occurred at time of growing distrust across the globe.

So, what role can cultural relations play in cultivating this vital but absent resource?

This panel discussion and Q&A built on our latest research on Trust in International Relations to address this question. The panel brought together cultural relations practitioners and experts to share knowledge, reflect on their practice, and consider future challenges and opportunities for trust-building between the UK and countries worldwide.


Panel members:

  • Celia Partridge, Assistant Director (Partnerships and Strategic Insight), Universities UK International
  • Joan Concannon, Director of External Relations, University of York; Director, York Festival of Ideas
  • Dr JP Singh, Distinguished University Professor, George Mason University


  • Mona Lotten, Head of Soft Power, British Council

About the contributors

Celia Partridge joined UUKi in 2017 and leads on external grants and contracts, as well as insight, PVCi engagement and climate change. Her international education experience includes the Royal College of Music and the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA), where she led on the Prime Minister’s Initiative for International Education, launching projects that enhanced the international student experience. Her private sector experience includes managing Barclays UK-wide flagship community investment programme on financial capability for young people. As a consultant, she has worked on strategic reviews, programme development and sustainability strategy for a range of organisations.

Joan Concannon is the Director of External Relations at the University of York and is responsible for a portfolio that spans key aspects of reputation and income generation across four teams: Marketing, Recruitment, Admissions, and Outreach; International Recruitment, Mobility and Partnerships, Office of Philanthropy Partnerships and Alumni (OPPA) and Communications. Alongside this, Joan is the co-founding Director of the York Festival of Ideas, one of the largest free festivals of its kind in the UK which is dedicated to demonstrating the relevance and societal value of education, research and ideas to diverse audiences. 

J.P. Singh is Distinguished University Professor and Co-Director of the Center for Advancing Human-Machine Partnership at George Mason University. He is also Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow with the Robert Bosch Academy, Berlin. He works at the intersection of technology, culture and political economy in global contexts examining transformative impacts from provision of telephone service in poor countries, to the use of AI in global value chains in cutting-edge industries. J.P. has consulted or advised international organizations such as the British Council, UNESCO, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, and conducted field research in 36 countries. His current book project explores AI and innovation in Germany, India, and the United States. A winner of numerous research awards and fellowships, he has written 10 books and over 100 scholarly articles.