Four Mercer students attend conference on Cultural Diplomacy

Emily Farlow

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Four Mercer students recently traveled to the U.N. headquarters in New York and the Bulgarian Embassy in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 21 through 24 as part of a cultural diplomacy conference through the Academy for Cultural Diplomacy.
The Academy for Cultural Diplomacy is part of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD), an organization which supports and raises awareness for “international and interregional human interaction,” according to their website. The Academy is the academic department through which the ICD raises awareness.
Jennifer Lada, Emily Stephens, Laurel McCormack, and Phillip York attended the International Conference on Cultural Diplomacy and the U.N.
Lada, a senior international affairs major at Mercer, said that the theme of the conference was “Cultural Diplomacy & Soft Power in an Interdependent World: The Opportunities for Global Governance.” It was the first conference on this topic out of a series of three.
According to the Academy’s website, the goal of the conference was “to reflect on the role of the United Nations within the international system, on global governance as a whole in terms of key international issues and on how Cultural Diplomacy takes place.”
The students attended many lectures and panels on a broad variety of topics.
The four students also attended social events designed to familiarize participants with each other and with the lecturers.
Some of the lecturers included the Bulgarian ambassador for the United States, the U.N. representative of Japan, the U.N representative of Bosnia Herzegovina, and the director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
“We attended so many lectures that it would be difficult to summarize what I have learned,” said Lada. Some topics of discussion were the future of international law, cultural diplomacy as a tool for peace, and the future of the United Nations.
The International Affairs department helped fund the trip, as the conference pertained to the students’ fields of study. Lada said that the students from Mercer were probably the youngest participants.
Most of the attendees were professionals, and there were some students at the conference.  Many people worked with governments, non-profit organizations and professors.
Participants came from all over the world. “Afghanistan, Pakistan, England, Canada, Greece, Germany, Netherlands are some of the countries I remember,” Lada said. “Most people flew to the U.S. just for the conference.”

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