Digital Soft Power in the (post)pandemic world

Is cultural diplomacy possible in the times of the global "digital lock-down"?
To what extent cultural institutions can turn to their digital resources, collections, exhibitions or distant programs to compensate for the loss of physical interactions and social influence? Are cultural actors well prepared to face digital challenges, including fake news, propaganda, algorithmic censorship, and data surveillance?
The Research Network Project aims to answer these questions by cross-pollinating academic knowledge and professional expertise of cultural practitioners and policy makers. It will scope, survey, identify, analyse and apply key digital tools to re-vitalize and re-enable GLAM institutions to successfully implement their international cultural exchanges and programs in the current context.

The research will explore novel ways to enhance, activate and globally communicate the value of cultural assets and heritage collections in the global media environment. The outcomes will inform GLAM experts to harness the power of digital technologies. They will help develop new plans for cultural engagement as well as to cope with digital threats.

Goals and objectives
Live Forum
Bringing together academics, diplomacy experts and GLAM institutions to create a live forum for knowledge creation and exchange
Exploring and advancing current thinking on the role of digital tools, data-driven approaches, and AI in strengthening the delivery of soft power programs
Developing policy-oriented partnerships between academics and practitioners through a series of webinars, datathons and educational activities

Research Creation
Advancing digital diplomacy research and scholarship by prototyping, testing and designing novel research tools that can measure, map, predict and visualize soft power

Research areas
The Research Network Project will consolidate and multiply existing knowledge in digital diplomacy addressing three key research components:
Digital Opportunities
How to sustain global visibility and leverage the digital assets in a saturated informational environment?

  • Building on VR and AR technologies trends and promises
  • Using data-driven approaches and innovative techniques
  • Crafting an appealing digital image and reputation
Digital Risks
How to conduct trustworthy cultural relations and exchanges in a post-truth environment?

  • Eliminating digital disruptions of informational outreach
  • Countering miscommunication and online propaganda attacks
  • Understanding data surveillance and digital espionage
Digital Approaches
How to use new technologies to leverage and augment the cultural appeal?

  • Employing geo-visualization to explore soft power as a geographical variable
  • Mapping cross-cultural trust and understanding impacts of multilateral communication efforts
  • Employing AI to forecast soft power appeal in different parts of the world
Network activities
Digital meets Cultural Diplomacy Marathon
The webinar series will bring together academics from different parts of the world to inform cultural practitioners and policy makers on existing opportunities, risks, and approaches in the global digital communication space
The datathons will invite GLAM experts and academics to experiment with different data sets to create new ways and data-driven solutions for assessing cross-cultural trust, leveraging cultural appeal and forecasting soft power potential of cultural events
Data bank
The network activities will create a dedicated data storage for useful resources (webinar recordings, articles, case studies, examples, data samples, and links) to enable a dynamic sharing of knowledge and best practices
Key investigators
Corneliu Bjola
Associate Professor in Diplomatic Studies at the University of Oxford and Head of the Oxford Digital Diplomacy Research Group. He also serves as a Faculty Fellow at the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California and as a Professorial Lecturer at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. He has authored or edited six books, including Countering Online Propaganda and Extremism The Dark Side of Digital Diplomacy (Routledge: 2019) – listed in the 20 Best New International Relations Books To Read In 2019 - and Digital Diplomacy: Theory and Practice (Routledge: 2015). He has served as a consultant for Ministries of Foreign Affairs in the U.K., Germany, Spain, Israel, Lithuania, UAE, Armenia, Romania as well as for UN and the Commonwealth.
Natalia Grincheva
Program Leader BA(Hons) Arts Management, in the School of Creative Industries at the LASALLE College of the Arts and Honorary Research Fellow in the Digital Studio at the University of Melbourne. She is an expert in innovative forms and global trends in contemporary museum diplomacy. Her most recent publications are two monographs: Museum Diplomacy in the Digital Age (Routledge: 2020) and Global Trends in Museum Diplomacy (Routledge: 2019). Currently she is working on a new co-authored monograph, Geopolitics of Digital Heritage (Cambridge University Press: forthcoming 2023). She also has successfully completed award-winning research project, Deep Mapping: Creating a Dynamic Web Application Museum "Soft Power" Map. It employed GIS to create a digital mapping tool, Museum Soft Power Map, that can visualize time-space development of museum soft power.

To find out more details about the project and its activities, please feel free to contact us:
Dr Natalia Grincheva: e-mail
Prof Corneliu Bjola: e-mail

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