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The Cultural Value Project: Cultural Relations in ‘Societies in Transition’

The Cultural Value Project (CVP) is a joint research project commissioned by the British Council and the Goethe-Institut (January 2017-June 2018). It aims to build a better understanding of the value of cultural relations (CR) in societies facing difficult challenges – in particular, in Egypt and Ukraine.

The project identified the difference cultural relations activities make to important international challenges, including supporting stability and prosperity in societies going through substantial change. The findings contribute to current political, policy and academic debates about the role of culture in conflict, diplomacy and development.

The British Council and Goethe-Institut wished to collaborate on this research in order to gain a better understanding of how different forms of cultural relations work in different contexts, and explore wider possibilities for partnerships in the field of cultural relations. This initiative occurs at a time when challenging transnational issues of conflict, security, migration, poverty and environmental degradation, beyond the control of any nation-state, make cooperation in international relations more difficult but more important than ever.

The Open University and the Hertie School of Governance bring together different methodological approaches and complementary foci of analysis into one shared analytical framework in order to examine the ways in which cultural relations work and the conditions and contexts under which cultural relations produce value (and indeed where it cannot). The relative strengths of different kinds of cultural relations activities and the value they create in diverse contexts are analysed via a series of strategically selected case studies.

Using cutting-edge social scientific tools and forms of data analyses, our shared analytical framework provides a better understanding of which particular cultural relations programmes and projects are suited to specific challenges. The result offers guidance to cultural relations organisations in and beyond the UK and Germany about the processes, outcomes and value of cultural relations activities. The project focuses primarily on the cultural relations activities of the UK and Germany but situates these in the wider national and international cultural ecologies in which they are embedded.

Research Team

  • Marie Gillespie
  • Eva Nieto McAvoy
  • Ben O’Loughlin
  • Olga Onuch
  • Dounia Mahlouly 
  • Colin Wilding