Get an introduction to cultural diplomacy, learning what it means, how it works, and its importance in today's polarised world.

11,750 enrolled on this course

Cultural Diplomacy
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Explore the definitions and methods of cultural diplomacy

What does cultural diplomacy mean? How does it work in practice? What effect does it have in today’s world? Get the answers with this introduction to cultural diplomacy.

You will explore whether cultural diplomacy is about intercultural dialogue and engagement between different countries or whether it could be understood as one type of public diplomacy. You will consider the role of state actors and international organisations as well as that of non-state actors (including types of cultural and educational institutions). You will also consider the emerging EU strategy of cultural diplomacy.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds What is cultural diplomacy? Come with us, and together we will address this question and the many others that arise when looking at the role that culture plays in international relations. We will travel through time and space to see how culture has been used as a diplomacy tool, and analyse the many cases where it has been successful, as well as some where it has been less so. We will also examine cultural diplomacy governance and the many actors involved from international organisations and cities to civil society and private actors, discussing also the strategies they put in place. For example, for what concerns the creation of international culture cooperation networks and the privatisation process of culture.

Skip to 1 minute and 1 second Finally, we will explore the role of culture in the EU external strategy, especially with neighbouring countries. Join us and a group of renowned experts for engaging discussions, and explore the potential of culture for building strong international relations and supporting development.


  • Week 1

    Concepts of cultural diplomacy

    • Introducing cultural diplomacy

      Get an overview of the course, meet the course team, and learn about the various ways cultural diplomacy can be defined.

    • Cultural cooperation

      What role can culture play in relationships between states? Can it contribute to conflict resolution? Get a historical overview and concrete examples on how diplomats use culture to strengthen relations with other countries.

    • Public diplomacy

      Which tools do states use to promote their culture, values and interests on the world stage?

    • Soft power

      The soft power theory has been very influential in the realm of cultural diplomacy, but it needs to be called into question.

    • Towards transnational cultural relations

      In an increasingly mobile world, most cultural relations take place at grassroots level. This reality can be grasped with the concept of transnational cultural relations.

  • Week 2

    Governance of cultural diplomacy

    • Introducing week 2

      Cultural diplomacy is no longer the sole responsibility of the state. A multi-level governance of cultural diplomacy has emerged and involves not only public actors, but also companies and civil society organisations.

    • International organisations

      What is the role of international organisations in cultural diplomacy?

    • Cities and regions in cultural diplomacy

      Subnational actors such as cities, regions and provinces have had a rising role in cultural diplomacy. How autonomous are they from the state in developing cultural cooperation?

    • Privatising cultural diplomacy?

      Looking at how foundations and companies conduct international cultural relations, we explore the influence of the private sector in the field of cultural diplomacy.

    • Grassroots international cultural relations?

      Digitisation and transnational mobility enhanced the possibilities of individuals to communicate and interact across borders. To what extent do such grassroots interactions challenge traditional practices of cultural diplomacy?

    • What role for states in cultural diplomacy?

      This week we have looked at the multiple challenges that the state faces as a consequence of the rise of new actors in the field of cultural diplomacy. But we have suggested that it remains central in organising cultural diplomacy

  • Week 3

    European cultural diplomacy

    • Introducing week 3

      What is the role of culture in the EU’s external action?Who are its instigators? What are its main objectives? How can it be implemented?

    • Europeanising cultural cooperation

      European nations have ancient traditions of cultural diplomacy. This represents both an opportunity and a challenge for cooperation on a European scale.

    • The European soft power

      Many Europeans believe their cultures and values are Universal. How potent is the European soft power in reality?

    • The future of cultural diplomacy in Europe

      What will the EU international cultural relations look like in the coming ten years?

    • Wrapping up the course

      What have we learned over these three weeks? Let us review the main ideas and achievements of this course.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explain relevant terms and notions such as those of soft power, cultural cooperation and public diplomacy
  • Discuss current geopolitical and economic contexts, and the role that cultural diplomacy plays in the G8 and in the G20 world
  • Identify the main actors involved in cultural diplomacy today
  • Explore the nascent EU strategy of cultural diplomacy
  • Assess specific examples where cultural diplomacy has worked and examples where it has not

Who is the course for?

This course is an introduction to cultural diplomacy for people working in foreign policy, public policy, arts, culture and heritage.

Who will you learn with?

Jeremie Molho is Research Fellow at the European University Institute

Anna Triandafyllidou is Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Who developed the course?

European University Institute (EUI)

The European University Institute offers doctoral and post-doctoral training in the social sciences. It hosts the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and the Historical Archives of the EU.

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  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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