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The distinction between hard and soft power has long been a classic tool in international relations research. In a world that has undoubtedly become more conflictual, the importance of soft power appears to be diminishing at first glance.

However, Prof. Michael F. Oppenheimer (New York University) and Dr. Hendrik W. Ohnsorge (Center for Global Studies, University of Bonn) made it clear during their visit to the AIA NRW that hard and soft power should not be thought of and understood in terms of a dichotomous distinction. Over coffee and cake, they discussed with the Fellows how the traditional global political role of the USA has changed from the perspective of soft power and what role states such as China, India and other actors play in this respect today


Michael F. Oppenheimer

Michael F. Oppenheimer leads the IR Futures concentration at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, teaching courses on International Relations, The Future of International Relations, and U.S. Foreign Policy.

He also oversees an ongoing research and consulting project for the UN Security Council’s Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate, which involves students directly in advising the UN system on counter terrorism policies and practices. His particular specialty is how potential future changes can be incorporated into the foreign policy process, in order to improve foresight and agility.


Lisa Hartmann
Public Relations and Events Officer

Rheinallee 24, 53173 Bonn




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