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Knowledge diplomacy - the role of international higher education in a new geopolitical era


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Programme Director
Aisling Conboy

Project Manager
Sue Wornell

The 2020s have been a period of massive disruption, and as we approach the mid-point of the decade, the current state of global affairs appears to be less aptly described as a confluence of disconnected crises, and more as the turn toward a new geopolitical era.

A new era in international relations would bring both opportunities and challenges; emerging economic and political powers in Asia, Africa and the Americas stand ready to benefit from the decline of a unipolar world, while growing interstate aggression risks destabilising entire regions.

Universities are caught in a precarious position in the midst of these global crosswinds.To respond to these global changes, what is needed is a coordinated strategy within international higher education for knowledge diplomacy. Knowledge diplomacy is “the process of building and strengthening relations between and among countries through international higher education, research and innovation.”[i]

This Wilton Park dialogue will bring together leaders from around the world from universities, governments, businesses, and policy institutions to explore how institutions of higher education can work together to cultivate an increased shared capacity for knowledge diplomacy.

The dialogue will also examine actions to take following the event. During the dialogue, participants will build a framework for a global Universities and Knowledge Diplomacy Commission. This commission will engage worldwide partners in continuing online and in-person conversation and planning around how international higher education institutions can work together to develop a coherent, collaborative approach to knowledge diplomacy.

Working together, universities can play a vital role in shaping the future of international relations and influencing a future of equitable education, innovative research, and sustainable development.

[i] Jane Knight, Knowledge Diplomacy in International Relations and Higher Education (Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2022), 103.

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