Midori, UN Messenger of Peace, Distinguished Professor of Violin, Founder of Midori & Friends, Music Sharing, and Partners in Performance
Jeffrey Brez, Chief of NGO Relations, Advocacy, and Special Events at the United Nations
Ashlee George, Executive Director of Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project
Evan Ryan, Executive Vice President of Axios
Moderated by Kent E. Calder, Professor and Director of Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies

May 8, 2017

The Peabody Institute and the Johns Hopkins SAIS Dean's Forum came together to co-host an intriguing panel discussion with experts on cultural diplomacy.

Midori, a renowned violinist and UN Messenger of Peace, shared from her community outreach experience to explain how culture and music can become tools for diplomacy, especially when political engagement may not be possible. Music speaks to the curiosity of people and helps them explore the world outside their own neighborhood, she said. Jeff Brez of the UN cited examples of the organization's engagement with sitcoms and films to promote awareness about UN projects, including the UN Messengers of Peace initiative.

Ashlee George discussed the contributions of the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, which works to stop the spread of HIV-AIDS throughout the continent. Former State Department official Evan Ryan spoke from the perspective of the US State Department and explained how jazz and sports diplomacy has worked as a soft power tool for the US government in the past. Miss Ryan went on to express that the world is now opening up to American culture and this has opened diplomatic windows for the government to leverage. However, she cautioned that the government must be strategic in deploying and exporting cultural influence.

The discussion was followed by a brief question and answer round where the audience posed questions onensuring funding for cultural diplomacy programs, avoiding cultural hegemony, and the scope for public-private partnerships in this field.

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