ifa supports and accompanies national and international research on topics of international cultural relations. In the Forum for International Cultural Relations, ifa presents the findings of its research. In the projects of ifa's research programmes, experts develop recommendations that can strengthen and further develop international cultural relations. 
The External Cultural Policy (ECP) Monitor provides information on the foreign cultural and educational policy of selected countries. 

Recent Research Findings

Research Projects

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on International Cultural Relations

Assessing Opportunities, Challenges, and Regulatory Approaches

The research explores the multifaceted effects of AI on global cultural dynamics. It examines the impact of AI on freedom of expression, privacy and cultural diversity while also considering geopolitical competition, North-South power imbalances and new regulatory frameworks. The study addresses the roles of a diverse array of stakeholders, including public agencies, cultural organizations, tech companies and civil society in shaping these dynamics.


Octavio Kulesz

Octavio Kulesz is a philosopher and a digital publisher. As a researcher collaborating with UNESCO, OIF, IFACCA and other organizations, his work focuses on digital culture. Some of his articles, such as “Culture, Platforms and Machines” (UNESCO, 2018), anticipated the contemporary challenges associated with generative AI. In 2020, he was selected by UNESCO, along with 23 other experts, to draft the Recommendation on the Ethics of AI, the world’s first standard-setting instrument in this area.

International Cultural Cooperation to Enhance the ASEAN-EU Relationship

ASEAN and the EU are two of the most fascinating geostrategic entities in the world. However, despite their international relevance, they have not co-operated as much as their worldwide status and influence suggest. In cultural matters, advances in cooperation have been modest, considering their potential. This project addresses that gap and outlines a series of recommendations to inform future steps in cultural cooperation between ASEAN and the EU and advance their relationship.

Prof. Lluís Bonet

Prof. Lluís Bonet is an expert on cultural economics, cultural policies, and arts management. He is the Director of the University of Barcelona’s Cultural Management Graduate Programme and the International Cultural Cooperation and Management Postgraduate Programme. Prof. Bonet has been a research fellow at MIT, the University of Montpellier, has served as a board member in many cultural organisations and has been invited to lecture in over 50 countries. In 2023, he received the ENCATC Outstanding Contribution Laureate.

Dr. David Ocón

Dr. David Ocón is an interdisciplinary cultural historian and anthropologist who works on Asian cultural heritage’s intersections with preservation, geopolitics, and sustainability. He also analyses cultural diplomacy and cooperation in Asia, particularly in and between China, Japan and the ASEAN countries. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Singapore Management University’s School of Social Sciences, where he teaches Cultural Diplomacy in Asia, Urban Cultural Anthropology, and Cultural Heritage and Social Sustainability, amongst others.

Cultural Work in the Diaspora: Potentials and Challenges of Collective Support

To strengthen the critical role of artists and cultural workers at risk, both spaces for freedom of expression and a better understanding of international relocation programs must be established. The study deals with the thematic intersection of foreign cultural policy, artistic freedom, migration and work with diaspora communities. It aims to identify cultural workers' needs and ways to support them, which are informed by collective approaches for larger, long-term communities in the diaspora.

Dr. Lisa Bogerts

Dr. Lisa Bogerts is a Berlin-based researcher and practitioner with a focus on political protest and conflict. She researches, consults and edits on topics such as political mobilization, artistic activism and visual communication. She wrote her PhD at Goethe University Frankfurt and the New School for Social Research New York on social movements and artistic resistance in Latin America.

Serap Yılmaz-Dreger

Serap Yılmaz-Dreger works as a consultant and practical sociologist. Through the lenses of critical theory she deals with topics regarding social justice, diasporic remembrance culture and anti discrimination under her label “Profound Work”. Her methods reach from participative formats like  podcasting and design-thinking to also art-based learning techniques.

Supporting Safeguarding of Artistic Freedom

Artists and cultural institutions are targeted by states, civil society and others when they address certain issues, such as those seen to upset traditional, religious, social and political values, or which challenge criminality. The project aims to describe the artistic freedom "landscape", identify areas that function well, are innovative and lead to change. It will provide an insight into constructive collaborations between CSOs and relevant UN mechanisms.

Ole Reitov

Ole Reitov co-founded Freemuse, the world’s leading organisation defending artistic freedom and acted as Freemuse Executive Director 2013-2017. In this period, he was the Freemuse representative to the UN Human Rights Council and he served as expert consultant to the UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights, Ms. Farida Shaheed. Since 2015 he is appointed as artistic freedom expert by UNESCO and has conducted numerous workshops on artistic freedom all over the world.

Sara Whyatt

Sara Whyatt is a campaigner and researcher on freedom of artistic expression and human rights, notably as the director of PEN International’s freedom of expression programme (1990-2013). Since 2013 she has worked with numerous arts freedom organisations including Freemuse, PEN, the Swedish Arts Council and the Council of Europe’s Free to Create|Create to be Free project. She has served as an expert on artistic freedom for UNESCO since 2019.

Relocated Russian Culture

The Case of the South Caucasus (Armenia and Georgia)

This research is dedicated to an analysis of the process and consequences of the migration of artists and cultural workers from Russia to the countries of the South Caucasus after the start of the Russian war against Ukraine in 2022. We examine which cultural actors and institutions migrated to the South Caucasus, how this changes the local cultural scene and what challenges and opportunities arise as a result.

Tigran Amiryan

Tigran Amiryan is the founder and president of the Cultural & Social Narratives Laboratory. He holds a PhD in World Literature and is semiologist, and contemporary culture researcher. Dr Amiryan has authored numerous articles on postmodern literature, interdisciplinary analysis, comparative analytics, sociology of literature. His main interest revolves around the issue of narrativization of both individual and collective memory in contemporary culture, as well as urban memory, and migration and memory.

Climate Crisis in the Mediterranean

The Role of Religious Actors in International Cooperation

Religions, as the largest transnational civil society institutions, offer immense potential for raising ecological awareness and shaping regional and international climate discourses. What role do religious actors play in international negotiations? What role does interreligious cooperation play in this? How can religious actors be involved in advancing climate policy? Within the framework of this research project, these are examined on the basis of the effects of climate change in the Mediterranean region.

Elisabeth Naurath

Dr. Elisabeth Naurath (ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran confession) is a professor for religious education at the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences at the University of Augsburg/Germany. The chair´s profile is interreligious learning as peace education. Prof. Naurath was elected as chair of the international peace organization ‘Religions for Peace Germany’ in 2021, Vice-President of European National Interreligious Bodies (ENIB) of Religions for Peace Europe, and Board Member of Religions for Peace Europe in 2022. She has initiated project groups on the topic of 'Religions and Environmental care' as a question for security and peace on both levels.

External Cultural Policy (ECP)-Monitor. Profiling External Cultural Policy

Approach and Methodology

The ECP Monitor was developed during a pilot phase for a first set of countries. Based on these initial studies and feedback received from users and experts, the Monitor will be revised and further refined. Once fully developed, the ECP Monitor will cover all EU, OECD and G20 countries, and be updated regularly.

Country Reports

Comparative Reports



The ECP Monitor is produced by a team at the Hertie School in close cooperation with ifa's Library and ifa's Research Programme. Find out more on the ifa website.

Research Programmes and Network

Why is Research Important?

Research Programmes

In the research programme "Culture and Foreign Policy" and the programme line "Research" of the Martin Roth Initiative, experts investigate current issues of foreign cultural and educational policy. The research programmes set topics and develop recommendations to strengthen and further develop international cultural relations. The research assignments are accompanied by conferences and workshops. The research results are published in the ifa edition Culture and Foreign Policy, as ifa Input or as Policy Brief.
Find out more on the ifa website.

ICRRA – International Cultural Relations Research Alliance

Researchers and practitioners exchange views on questions of international cultural relations through the International Cultural Relations Research Alliance (ICRRA) network. The network sees itself as a bridge builder between practical cultural work, academic reflection, policy advice and the media. It supports the transfer of research-based knowledge into politics and society and promotes evidence-based discourse. Find out more on the ifa website.


Sarah Widmaier

Scientific Coordinator of ifa’s Research Programme on Culture and Foreign Policy

Charlottenplatz 17
D-70173 Stuttgart

Telephone: +49.711.2225.214

Dr. Christina Buck-Rieder

Project Coordinator Dialogue and Research Culture and Foreign Policy

Charlottenplatz 17
D-70173 Stuttgart

Telephone: +49.711.2225.123