Image ©

Mat Wright.

According to the UK Government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy: ‘The soft power landscape is changing. Those who challenge the values of open and democratic societies increasingly do so through culture: systemic competitors like Russia and China invest heavily in global cultural power projection and information operations.’

‘Soft power’ is defined by scholar Joseph Nye as the ability to influence through attraction rather than coercion. It is seen as playing an increasingly prominent role in the international strategies of countries around the world.

The British Council foreign policy forum is inviting submissions for its winter seminar ‘Are we living through a soft power arms race?’. Selected authors will have the opportunity to present their submissions to the forum and a panel of senior politicians and policymakers. Submissions are open to both members and non-members of the forum.


Submissions should take the form of an essay or article of no more than 1500 words and should respond to the seminar topic ‘Are we living through a soft power arms race?’. You may choose to focus on a region or sub-topic of your choice in your response.

Submissions should be emailed to in a Word document attachment by midday on Monday 24th January. 

Winter seminar

The essay topic will be discussed and debated at the winter seminar event, taking place in Westminster in February/March 2021 (date to be confirmed).

Selected submission authors will be invited to present their argument to a panel of senior individuals working in foreign policy. They will also be published on the British Council website.

For those who are not selected and still wish to attend, or members who wish to attend the seminar but did not make a submission, there will a limited number of places to attend the event as an audience member. Places will be made available following the submission deadline and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Selection Process

Submissions will be judged by a panel of internal British Council staff. They will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Does the submission help to develop the debate around soft power through new perspectives and original insight?
  • Does it draw on recent and relevant data and research?
  • Is the argument clear, consistent and of a high quality?

If you have any questions on the winter seminar or submission process, please email 

Reading List

The following texts and sources may help to inform your submission:

British Council foreign policy forum

The forum is a network of foreign policy professionals with exclusive access to events, platforms, and insight from across the British Council global network. The winter seminar brings together network members and senior individuals working in foreign policy to discuss and debate contemporary issues in foreign policy.