Cultural relations and education policy: A basis for strong international relations

Tarabya Cultural Academy

Tarabya Cultural Academy, © Dawin Meckel


As the third pillar of German foreign policy, cultural relations and education policy provides a broad foundation for stable international Relations.

Cultural events, youth exchange and city twinning partnerships

Deutschlandjahr USA: a cultural relations and education policy project
Deutschlandjahr USA: a cultural relations and education policy project© Wunderbar Together

How can we create the basis for international exchange and mutual understanding even when the political situation is difficult? And how can we bring together people from different countries in order to foster durable ties?

Cultural relations and education policy addresses these questions. From the restoration of historic temple complexes in Asia, city twinning partnerships with Russia and the Deutschlandjahr in the United States to the more than 140 German schools abroad, it forms the third pillar of German foreign policy alongside political and economic relations with different countries.

Why cultural relations and education policy?

At the heart of cultural relations and education policy lies the task of enabling access to culture and education across geographical, political and social borders, thus creating mutual understanding: the basis for good international relations. Cultural relations and education policy can thus also help to defuse or even prevent crises and conflicts around the world: what matters is that we remain in dialogue, that we maintain our common ground with others.

To achieve this end, cultural relations and education policy is guided by “foreign policy of societies” which makes the ties between countries tangible to people. It is a tool for bringing together actors from civil society, advocating the freedom of the arts and sciences around the world, cultivating spaces for critical exchange and freedom of expression as well as protecting cultural property as symbols of cultural identity.

How is all of this translated into practice?

Exhibition of the Museum of Modern Art
Exhibition of the Museum of Modern Art© Ute Grabowsky/photothek.net

The German Government sets out the strategic framework for cultural relations and education policy. The projects are then realised with the help of partner organisations. The German Government’s most important partners include the Goethe-Institut, the German Academic Exchange Service, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa), the Federal Office of Administration – Central Agency for Schools Abroad, the Educational Exchange Service, the German Commission for UNESCO, the German Archaeological Institute, the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

Partners of the Federal Foreign Office’s cultural relations and education policy also include political foundations, the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the Max Weber Foundation, the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” and private foundations, as well as foundations with commercial ties and civil-society organisations.

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