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August 2020

The British Council and partners recently hosted a series of digital public panel discussions exploring the role of culture, education and the English language in the UK’s Global Britain ambitions. 

Looking ahead to the Integrated Review of foreign policy, defence, security and international development, the series explored the changing nature of international cooperation and influence.

These engaging discussions considered how the UK could be a global force for good, and the significant part that cultural connections play within this changing landscape. 

Recordings of the discussions will be added below as they become available, where you can listen to experts from government, across sectors and around the world as we explored the future of cultural relations in foreign policy.  

How do cultural connections build international trade?

Tuesday 8 September 2020

The British Council welcome you to this discussion exploring the role that building cultural connections plays in creating the environment for international trade opportunities around the world: what is the relationship between perceptions of a country and the nation’s trade prospects? What is the value for trade of promoting shared values, languages and cultural experiences?


Kathryn McDowell CBE, Managing Director, London Symphony Orchestra

Steve Phillips, Chair, English UK

Graham Stuart MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Trade

Helen Silvester, Regional Director Americas, British Council (Chair)

To view a recording of the discussion please click here.


The UK as a science superpower: the role of international collaboration

Tuesday 15 September 2020

The British Council is delighted to welcome you to this discussion exploring how the UK can position itself as a science superpower. How can trust be built between scientists, institutions and the public in the UK and overseas? What impact does this have on the UK’s international diplomatic efforts and international perceptions of the UK? And what does the UK’s science sector contribute to the nation being a ‘Force for Global Good’ in the world?


Prof. David Drewry, Non-Executive Director with Science Portfolio, UK National Commission for UNESCO

Dr Julie Maxton CBE, Executive Director, Royal Society

Prof. Carole Mundell, Chief Scientific Adviser, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive, British Council (Chair)

To view a recording of the discussion please click here.


What role do culture and education play in connecting 'open societies'?

Tuesday 22 September 2020

The British Council welcome you to this discussion exploring the role that engaging with open societies plays in international cooperation and diplomacy. What elements make an ‘open society’ and how can they work together to address global challenges and opportunities? What role do educational and cultural programmes play in promoting rules-based international systems and shared values? And how does this participation encourage cooperation between likeminded countries?  


His Excellency the Honourable George Brandis QC, High Commissioner of Australia to the UK

Dr Harry Kuchah, President, IATEFL

Dr Joanna Newman MBE FRSA, Chief Executive and Secretary General, The Association of Commonwealth Universities

Esme Ward, Director, Manchester Museum

Maddalaine Ansell, Director Education, British Council (Chair)

To view a recording of the discussion please click here.


What is the role of culture and education in increasing the UK’s global influence?

Tuesday 29 September 2020 

In partnership with the Coalition for Global Prosperity, this discussion will consider how the UK can increase its global influence through its soft power assets. Recent British Council research found that the UK is the most attractive country in the G20, however it faces major competition for influence across the world. How has Covid-19 influenced international perceptions of the UK? What role can the UK’s cultural and educational assets play in promoting positive perceptions of the UK overseas? How is international competition in culture and education likely to affect the UK’s influence, and how should the UK respond?


Ryan Henson, CEO, The Coalition for Global Prosperity

Imran Ahmad Khan MP, Chair, APPG for Foreign Affairs

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

The Rt Hon John Whittingdale OBE MP, Minister of State (Minister for Media and Data), Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport

Kate Ewart-Biggs OBE, Director Global Network, British Council (Chair)

To view a recording of the discussion please click here.


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