After our own recent experience of hosting a virtual conference, CCSE Director – Prof Gayle McPherson – spoke this week at the 7th biennial International Symposium on Cross -Sector Social Interactions. As the restrictions on co-presence and travel remain in place for many, the event took place virtually.
Alongside conference chair Dr Annmarie Ryan, Prof McPherson spoke, presenting on the ‘Legacies of failure to win the City of Culture: Identity, civicism and change,’ drawing on her participation in developing and delivering Paisley’s own City of Culture UK bid. Although, ultimately, Paisley was not selected as city of culture, the bidding process and its legacies have positive ongoing effects for Paisley and the development of cultural strategies, collaborations and interactions across a spectrum of civic agencies and actors.
On the 3rd July 2019, I presented at the Global Strategy Forum, in the National Liberal Club, in Whitehall, London. Global Strategy Forum is an open forum, founded in 2006 and dedicated to the promotion of fresh thinking and active debate on foreign affairs, defence and international security issues. It was an interesting audience of about 80 people; made up of Ambassadors, Lords, Ladies, MPS, ex-military personnel and policy makers. The session was entitled: The GSF/British Council July 2019 Research Launch: ‘Building A Lasting Peace: New Approaches To Conflict And Recovery’.
The website promoted the event saying ‘we were delighted to welcome to GSF Professor Gayle McPherson of the University of the West of Scotland, and Professor Joanne Hughes of the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast’. We presented the key findings of new research commissioned by the British Council on the role of education and culture in international efforts to address the causes of conflict and build sustainable peace and discussed their implications for UK and international peace and security policy. The event was co-chaired by Lord Lothian PC QC DL, Chairman of GSF and Dan Shah, Director, Research at the British Council.
After presentations from Joanne and me, the panel were open to questions from the audience. This was a very well informed audience, who were keen to quiz us on specific examples of the contribution of culture and education to global security and stability. It led to an interesting discussion as I was suggesting unusually, that culture, is often both the cause of conflict and a possible aid in post conflict resolution and indeed in conflict prevention. I discussed examples from our research in Rwanda, Colombia and Syria; Syria continuing to present the most challenge of course, as it is not yet post-conflict. The audience were engaging and some of the questions were a bit left-field but thankfully Dan Shah, Director of Research for the British Council was on hand to help with those. We will continue our work in the fields of cultural diplomacy and soft power; and would be happy to collaborate further with colleagues that are keen to be involved with the Centre. Alison Bailey, from The British Council published a short report in conjunction with us called Art as Peace and this is available from the link below along with Joanne’s report on Education for Peace.