Man wearing virtual reality headset
Exploring new forms of digital at the Atolye Creative Hub in Istanbul, Turkey. ©

Poyraz Tütüncü/Pinhole Istanbul

Thursday 16 February 2023 -
14:00 to 15:30

Three Years On: New perspectives on international collaboration through culture and education

This event took place on 16 February 2023, 14:00-15:30 GMT  

Online via Teams Live

You can access a recording of the event here.

In early 2020 global lockdowns made digital international collaboration and partnerships the ‘new normal’ for UK cultural and educational organisations, accelerating a digital shift that was already underway. 

Three years on, lessons learned from rapid and often disruptive transitions to digital delivery are being applied to the development of more refined digital strategies and hybrid approaches. New ways of thinking have emerged about digital and its role in building relationships, connections and trust between the UK and global partners, audiences and communities through education and culture. 

This panel discussion and Q&A brings together representatives of three international organisations, and other experts, to share experiences and new knowledge, reflect on their practice, and consider future directions of travel and their implications for the UK’s international objectives and engagements. 

The event develops themes considered in recent British Council research on Digital Cultural Relations and explored further in a recent Insight article.


Panel members:

  • Rehana Mughal, Director of Creative Economy, British Council 
  • Beth Button, Director of Strategic Communications, ACU
  • John Stack, Director of Digital, Science Museum Group


  • Jessica Gosling, Public Policy Professional, participating in a personal capacity as a PhD student; PhD in Public Policy/Political Science, UCL 
  • Ojoma Ochai, Managing Partner, Creative Economy Practice at CcHUB


  • Ben O’Loughlin, Professor of International Relations, Royal Holloway University of London

About the contributors

As the ACU’s Director of Strategic Communications, Beth Button leads on the organisation’s policy engagement and external affairs; raising the profile of the work and value of the ACU and its members to secure recognition and support for higher education with stakeholders, funders, and governments across the Commonwealth. Before joining the ACU, Beth worked at University Alliance where she was Head of Communications and Public Affairs. Other higher education sector roles have included leading campaigns teams at Universities UK, public affairs at Universities Wales, and a representative role at the European Students Union, where she led the organisation’s work on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

With an eclectic 10+ years in various sectors and industries, Jess Gosling has consistently strived to bridge the gap between culture, diplomacy and innovation. She spent the better part of a decade abroad in deployments with the United Nations, UK Government, NGOs, civil society, and startups in East Asia, the Middle East, the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central and South America.  She presently works in the British Government and is a current PhD student at University College London (UCL). Her research focuses on how nation-states brand themselves through cultural diplomacy, public policy and soft power, with a core focus on Mexico, Georgia and South Korea.

Rehana Mughal is the Director, Creative Economy at the British Council where she oversees delivery of the Creative Economy Programme, in her role Rehana works through a dispersed global team to actively champion the role of the creative and cultural industries as a driver of sustainable, inclusive economic growth. Rehana is a member of the Creative Industries Council, which is a joint forum between the creative industries and government. Prior to working in the UK, Rehana worked as Director Arts, British Council, China and Cultural Counsellor, at the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy in Beijing, where she led a diverse and impactful portfolio of activity designed to connect individuals and organisations from the UK and China to opportunities that build connections, capability, and appreciation through and for the arts, in this role she developed a robust digital engagement strategy which enabled the arts team to reach over 10million people through online delivery of cultural activities. Prior to working in China Rehana worked in Abu Dhabi where she established and led a culture and sports programme across the six countries in the Gulf.

Ben O'Loughlin is Professor of International Relations and Director of the New Political Communication Unit at Royal Holloway, University of London. Ben researches the role communication plays in world politics. He is co-author of the book Strategic Narrative and advises states and international organisations on how to connect the past, present and future to take world affairs in a certain direction. He was Special Advisor to the UK Parliament Select Committee on Soft Power and UK Influence, and Thinker in Residence at the Royal Academy, Brussels. He has conducted research with the British Council and Goethe Institute on cultural relations in societies in transition.

Ojoma Ochai is Managing Partner of The Creative Economy Practice at CCHub and co-founder of Pixel Ray Studios. She sits on several boards both locally and internationally and is also a member of the UNESCO global Expert Panel on the 2005 Convention on Cultural Expressions. Her 17+ years of experience spans International Cultural Relations and leading Creative and Digital Economy projects including at the intersection with tourism and heritage.

John Stack is Digital Director of the Science Museum Group. The Science Museum Group encompasses five museums: Science Museum, London; National Science and Media Museum, Bradford; National Railway Museum, York; Science and Industry Museum, Manchester; and Locomotion, Shildon. He joined in 2015 and is responsible for setting and delivering the Group's digital strategy. He manages the Digital department which encompasses the museums’ websites, digitised collections, apps, games and on gallery digital media. Prior to joining the Science Museum Group, he was Head of Digital at Tate for ten years.

You can access a recording of the event here.

For any queries about this event or the research mentioned above please contact

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