Cultural Diplomacy

New scenarios in today's world call for innovative strategies on the political level and question cooperation as a system of intervention adapted to the new challenges: the hybrid conflict is widespread, pervasive and delocalized, involves many actors who, until now, could not be together; extreme weather phenomena and climate change exacerbate the critical issues and underline the urgency of interventions.

In a world where wars are fought but not declared and the rules are betrayed by everyone, peace cannot wait and it is urgent to take action to help the affected communities recompose themselves.

The overlapping situations of war and peace show that they are not alternatives to one another, hence the paradoxical need to promote peace without waiting for it: it is an opportunity that calls for a new form of diplomacy and new competences for cooperation.

Today we can say that peace is urgent.

Download the brochure peace is urgent

The approach

The methodological approach used in extreme and crisis contexts argues that the return to normality of a community is in knowing how to recognize itself as such: the Hybrid War not only destroys infrastructure but, even before it, identities and symbols that characterize people and their communities. Cultural Diplomacy (Cultural Diplomacy) helps to reconstruct the individual and collective symbolic heritage, understood as a premise for the planning vision of the future, and acts with the tools of cooperation and communication.

This methodological line has as its objective the management of crises and the reduction of conflicts, placing at the centre of these interventions the valorization of the cultural heritage and the historical-social memory of a community or social group. The positive impact of this type of action can be found in the awareness that knowledge of one's own roots is an instrument for promoting dialogue and peace and the first factor of resilience in crisis contexts.

The cultural-interpretative change, the factors of crisis management, the specificity of resilience have been declined in a new operational model that we identify in the so-called Cultural Diplomacy Partnership that is being established by Università Cattolica. The objective is to promote Cross Cultural Country Development, understood as a process of cooperative development between the partners in the areas of crisis that requires everyone to be able to interact effectively with the bearers of a different culture, thus respecting and enhancing cultural specificities and diversity.

Consequently, the working method focuses on the cultural dimension in which local identities are expressed, a reason for stability, able to relate with other specificities of the networked world. This original model has elaborated some tools such as the Identity Based Actions, which are activities of reproduction of the culture represented in the Cultural Focal Points, intended as collections representing the material and immaterial culture of a specific local community, which are the driving force behind initiatives of cultural exchange, promotion of dialogue and mutual knowledge between the various ethnic realities involved.

ITSTIME is the Centre of Studies dealing with crisis management, security and hybrid conflicts of the Departmet of Sociology of Università Cattolica.

For years it has collaborated with the University Centre for International Solidarity and Perigeo NGO to assess the state of security in areas where cooperation activities are carried out and to coordinate initiatives in conflict and crisis contexts (recently in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Syria). ITSTIME also promotes the activities of the Cultural Diplomacy Partnership as responsible for the signed Memorandum of Understanding.

In Afghanistan from 2009 to 2014 there was an innovative activity of civil and military cooperation in favour of women in the provinces of Herat, which allowed to stabilize the procedures of cooperation intervention of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in post-conflict areas.

In Ethiopia e Somaliathe experience underway since 2016 in the Tigrai and Oromia regions and the activities in Mogadishu and Bosaso have enabled the development of the Cultural Focal Point tool in the Horn of Africa.

In Syria, in particular in Damascus, Maaloula and Aleppo in 2019, an initial intervention of cultural diplomacy was carried out which brought back to the Christian communities the symbols destroyed by terrorism, giving them the opportunity to redesign the subsequent actions of cooperation.

Graduate degree

As part of the degree course in Politics for International Development Coopration at the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, Post-conflict and emergency management teaching is active. The course aims to provide skills and tools to analyze and act within complex systems in crisis and emergency contexts.

Postgraduate program

Bachelor's degree in Cultural Diplomacy. Arts and Digital Media for International Relations and Global Communication.The master is oriented to a multidisciplinary training in the field of international relations, cultural and digital diplomacy and global communication with particular attention to the tools of cooperation in crisis areas. Read Makeda's story, student of the Master.

Marco Lombardi, Culture and Action: Cultural Diplomacy and Cooperation, in Sicurezza Terrorismo e Società, 10, 2020

Marco Lombardi e Barbara Lucini, Cooperazione e Cultural Diplomacy: resilienza e cultural focal points, in Sicurezza Terrorismo e Società, 9, 2019

Marco Lucchin, Cultural Diplomacy in Russia: identità e cultura come evoluzione del Paese, in Sicurezza Terrorismo e Società, 11, 2020

Barbara Lucini, Cultural Resilience and Cultural Diplomacy: the State of the Art, in Sicurezza Terrorismo e Società, 10, 2020

Marta Visioli, Cultural Diplomacy and Cultural Focal Points as emergent and integrative cooperation strategies in the resolution of conflicts, in Sicurezza Terrorismo e Società, 9, 2019