Thursday 3 May 2018, 13.45 - 14.45

This important conversation considers the role of education within diplomacy and international relations in the 21st century, with expert perspectives of international higher education leaders from across the world.

Joseph Nye considered the role of Higher Education and its potential as a tool of influence and within soft power in 2005. In a world where knowledge travels instantaneously and where both prosperous human and economic relations and the nature of conflict and crisis inescapably interconnected, the complexity and indeed appositeness of national centres of power and influence is being challenged.

International and cultural relations theory and practice has developed to respond to these dynamics with the inclusion of greater non-state networks, digital channels and recognition of the role of education, culture and innovation in how a country can engage and exchange on the global stage. This in turn raises questions for the role of universities as international, public yet independent actors, and how they engage locally and globally.

Key questions:

  • What is knowledge diplomacy in the 21st century?
  • How are transnational education models and the role of multinational research and innovation partnerships affecting understandings of international cooperation and influence today?
  • How is the engagement of universities with policy actors and networks affecting traditional channels of diplomacy and the values and structures it is shaped by?


  • Professor Jo Beall, Director – Education and Society and Executive Board Member, British Council, UK (Chair)
  • Professor Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry, President, Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI), Slovenia
  • Professor Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid, Founding Chair, United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Malaysia
  • Christian Müller, Director of Strategy, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Germany
  • Dr Kavita Sharma, President, South Asian University, India