More than ever before, today’s conflicts require solutions that prioritize culture. Why? Culture and ideology – as opposed to borders and territorial domination—lie at the heart of most of today’s conflicts. Culture provides the foundation for identity, making it a target for extremists like ISIS, who actively are destroying historic sites and cultural heritage. We must understand the importance of culture in the battles, and endeavor to preserve, support and rebuild it.

Cynthia P. Schneider, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, teaches, publishes, and organizes initiatives in the field of cultural diplomacy, with a focus on relations with the Muslim world. Additionally, she co-directs the Timbuktu Renaissance, an innovative strategy and platform for countering extremism and promoting peace and development, which grew out of her work leading the Arts and Culture Dialogue Initiative within Brookings’ Center for Middle East Policy.