We aim for the University of Denver to become internationally recognized for being a preeminent place for learning, programming, and meaningful conversations on the arts as tools for cultural diplomacy and social change. Our Cultural Diplomacy Initiative trains students to engage in creative approaches to addressing the great issues of our time and invites the broader Denver community to learn about how the arts can facilitate connections across the boundaries of nation, language, religion, and culture in vitally important ways. At this time, the Cultural Diplomacy Initiative has two primary pillars: Curriculum and Community Events.
This is a joint program between the Sié Center for International Security and Diplomacy and the Newman Center for the Performing Arts.
The Cultural Diplomacy Initiative is made possible through the May Bonfils Stanton Endowment.
Cultural Diplomacy Initiative Pillars
The Korbel School, in partnership with the Media and Public Communication program at DU, is building a curriculum on Arts for Social Change. The Korbel School is also launching a Global Justice Certificate in the Fall of 2024, which will feature courses on Cultural Diplomacy.
More information coming soon!
Building on the success of the Cultural Diplomacy program at the Korbel School to date, the Sié Center will host regular public events, often in partnership with the Newman Center.
See highlights of some of our recent events below.
May 16, 2023
Art and Resistance: The Story of a Citizens' Uprising in Cuba
An Evening with Carolina Barrero
Resistance in Cuba goes as far back as January 1959 when a militia commanded by Fidel Castro overthrew the former dictator, but massive protest in the country was inhibited by mechanisms of repression tested by this and other illiberal regimes throughout the 20th century. The powerful protest movement that challenged Cuba's regime in 2021 was started by artists and groups of nonconformist citizens who decided to express their opposition with gestures of protests that were broadcast using social media. This is the story of how the desire for freedom sparked by these groups escaped the control of the government apparatus and became a massive citizens' uprising in the summer of 2021.
Carolina Barrero is a Cuban art historian, human rights activist, and democracy advocate. Barrero has been a leading voice in the Cuban dissident art movement and was forced into exile in 2022 due to her involvement in these protests. This event was sponsored by the Inclusive Global Leadership Initiative and the discussion was moderated by Professor Marie Berry, Director of the Sié Center.
- Maglione Hall
March 27, 2023
Dance to Change the World: A Conversation with Francisco Graciano and Aisha Ahmad-Post
Mexico and the United States have long enjoyed a cultural connection through modern dance. From Martha Graham’s first visit in 1932 to Mexico City, to Paul Taylor’s repeated visits with his company at the invitation of Amalia Hernández in the 1960s and 70s, to Mexican-American Jose Limón’s indelible mark on American dance, the 20th century laid the groundwork for deeper cultural exchange between dance artists and the wider public from both countries.
In 2022, Mexican-American choreographer Francisco Graciano choreographed the Bach Dance Project at the invitation of the International Cervantino Festival in Guanajuato, the largest performing arts festival in Latin America. The Bach Dance Project provided space for the collaborative generation of ideas and movement modalities that transcended the barriers of spoken language. Creative collaborations like this one can inform how we think about the movement of bodies in both directions across our borders.
This event featured Graciano in conversation with Aisha Ahmad-Post, Executive Director of the Newman Center for the Performing Arts. The conversation was moderated by Professor Marie Berry, Director of the Sié Center.
- Maglione Hall
January 12, 2023
Women's Resistance: On the Page and on the Ground
An Evening with Choman Hardi
Women are on the front lines in movements around the world, challenging repression and patriarchy in the streets, as well as through their poetry and writing. Kurdish Iraqi poet Choman Hardi discussed the ongoing revolutions in Iran, Kurdistan, and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Choman Hardi is a Kurdish Iraqi educator, poet, author, and scholar. The conversation was moderated by Professor Marie Berry, Director of the Sié Center. The event was sponsored by the Inclusive Global Leadership Initiative.
- Maglione Hall
September 22, 2022
Harnessing the Power of Culture to Advance Foreign Policy Objectives
A Conversation with Carla Canales
Carla Canales is an internationally renowned opera singer, entrepreneur, and Arts Envoy for the U.S. State Department since 2005. In 2016 she also founded The Canales Project, a non-profit that gives voice to issues of identity through music.
Canales spoke with Professor Marie Berry, Director of the Sié Center, to illuminate how cultural diplomacy can fill an important but often overlooked role in current foreign policy debates and add a valuable dimension to co-curricular discussions in international affairs. She discussed the history of U.S. cultural diplomacy to help audience members better understand how the power of the arts has repeatedly been deployed by the U.S. government to help achieve foreign policy objectives.