The British Council builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the United Kingdom and other countries through arts and culture, education, and the English language. It aims to foster cross-national dialogue, understanding and cooperation, through creating opportunities for intercultural exchange. Last year marked the start of a 5-year strategy for the British Council to strengthen its position as a leader in the fields of Arts and Culture, Education, and English. An integral aspect of this strategy is to engage in research and shape its work around evidence-based solutions.
In this context, the British Council established a new research programme, The Big Conversation, which looks at shared values in cultural relations and international cooperation. It seeks to explore how cultural relations’ ‘meta-values’ (equality, diversity, inclusion, mutuality, respect, tolerance and openness) can be embedded in programmes and reinforced in the British Council’s ways of working and organisational culture, in order to foster better dialogue and cooperation with stakeholders, partners and programme users.
The pilot phase of The Big Conversation (hereafter referred to as “the Pilot”) was completed in March 2021 by a research team from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), who worked with the British Council teams in Malaysia, South Africa and the United Kingdom to develop useful new knowledge and research tools on values for applied use in strategy, programming, practice, as well as academic research. The Pilot focussed on the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic as a topic to investigate the role that values play in cooperation.
Building on the research model developed by the LSE team in the Pilot, this Extension focuses on understanding more about the role that values play in creating the conditions for international cooperation on shared global challenges and, more specifically, on environmental issues and climate change. In order to do so, the LSE team conducted quantitative research in four countries (China, India, Japan and Mexico) and qualitative research engaging participants from seven countries (Brazil, China, India, Japan, Morocco, UAE and Venezuela).
The Big Conversation Research Pilot, April 2021