Differences in culture are often cited as roadblocks to international cooperation. However, when viewed through a different lens, culture can reveal numerous opportunities for establishing meaningful connections.  In fact, public diplomacy practitioners have a longstanding tradition of employing cultural diplomacy.  Opinions differ on the exact role culture should play in diplomacy, but the fact remains that it has, and continues to impact relations between states.  The authors in Connecting through Culture explore the various methods in which cultural diplomacy has been employed.  USIA veteran Richard T. Arndt outlines the historical ties of American public diplomacy to its cultural roots.  In doing so he also highlights the failures of present-day practitioners to utilize and embrace this vital tool.  In contrast, former Director of the International Fund for the Promotion of Culture at UNESCO, Yudhishthir Raj Isar, warns against the over-extension of the term “cultural diplomacy” as well as the limitations faced by state and non-state actors in their use of culture.  Looking forward, Professor of International Relations and Cultural Diplomacy César Villanueva Rivas offers a new theoretical framework for cultural diplomacy by using both cosmopolitanism and social constructivism.  These discussions are followed by Sharon Memis, the British Council USA Director, who offers insights on evaluating and measuring the success of cultural diplomacy programs.  By presenting a snapshot of several key arenas of public diplomacy, these articles are meant to inspire conversation and bring attention to the opportunities made possible by connecting through culture.

Photo Credit: Aaron Montoya, aaronmontoya.com