The Center for Culture and Freedom is a collaborative effort between The Institute of World Politics and Asia America Initiative (AAI), a nonprofit which strives to develop communities affected by poverty, natural disaster, and armed conflict. The Center combines the IWP faculty’s rare expertise in public diplomacy with the field of experience of AAI.
The Center’s programs emphasize the pursuit of peace and security with an awareness of the varied cultures and historical forces that shape global events. It focuses on people-to-people interaction, mutual understanding, and humanitarian assistance as pillars for alliances against tyranny and to counter anti-American and anti-Western radicalization. Its efforts have had remarkable success in preventing Islamist radicalization. IWP students serve as interns at AAI as part of a practicum program augmenting their studies in public diplomacy and counter-terrorism.
The Center for Culture and Freedom is located at IWP on the second floor of Bently Hall, 1523 16th Street NW, Washington DC, 20036. It is directed by IWP Professor Albert Santoli, who is also the Founder and President of Asia America Initiative.
Current Program Emphasis:
Currently, the Center utilizes Prof. Santoli’s more than 40 years of military and humanitarian program leadership. Its global reach is centered on the role of civil engagement through medical intervention and public health responses in areas of intensive poverty, and the destructive impact of climate change and armed conflict. Professor Santoli is an active member in the health component of the Hawaii-based Pacific Risk Management Organization which is a partnership between the University of Hawaii, the Governor’s Office of Hawaii, the US military’s Pacific Command based in Pearl Harbor, and the US Health and Human Services and FEMA representatives in Hawaii. Santoli, representing IWP and the Center, is also a participant in the Pacific Island Health Officers Association, which includes the United States, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Tonga, Samoa, and the Gilbert Islands, which are all heavily affected by climate change and viral epidemics caused by rising ocean water. With Prof. Santoli and the Center’s experience in global public health programs, IWP is a positive factor in current discussions with the US Navy’s Global Health Engagement Office to begin training their representatives, including MD’s and PhDs in Public Health Management.
In order to develop effective strategies to address those challenges, the Center will pursue the following projects:
Interactive Roundtables: Roundtable discussions involving subject matter experts open to policy makers and the IWP community to gain a better understanding of the role of history, culture, and politics that shape critical issues related to international relations and security.
Student Discussion Forums: Regular presentations by current and former students from IWP, local high schools and places of worship, neighboring universities, and international visitors — both U.S. and foreign — sharing their experiences, particularly in the areas of peer engagement, public diplomacy, and cultural interaction that provides cultural awareness and mutual respect.
Public Lectures: By international experts on subjects of vital concern to international relations, national security, and global human needs.
Full Spectrum Diplomacy, Communications, and Culture: Panels or speakers that can articulate the whole of government approach with the inclusion of private sector experts in particular countries or cultures vital to international development and security.
Cultural Engagement in Action: Developing a comprehensive website on cultural engagement, to complement in-person activities; and a project in a challenging community of the Washington metropolitan area where IWP students can work with local youth and community leaders to promote community and personal development.
Analysis and Crisis Research: In-depth research into key areas of global conflict, cultural instability, and at-risk communities. This research will review how internal instability and foreign instigators use cultural manipulation to negatively affect global security. These student-researched articles, papers, and/or indexes would be maintained at the Center to support future research by IWP students. The Center will also promote social media, including blogs, on these issues. Furthermore, the Center will promote the publication of these research topics in journals and other mass media sources.
ALBERT SANTOLI is President and founder of the non-profit Asia America Initiative. In 2013, he was awarded the Order of the Golden Heart (Orden ng Gintong Puso) from Philippine President Benigno Aquino for creating “peace zones” in the most dangerous area of Southeast Asia. He is an adjunct professor in the Statecraft and International Relations Master’s Degree program at The Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC, where he is also the Director of the Center for Culture and Freedom. He is also a member of the Pacific Islands Emergency Management Organization, which is a partnership between the University and State of Hawaii with the US military Pacific Command, US Dept. of Health and Human Services, and FEMA. His citizen diplomacy skills in areas of armed conflict are rooted in his background as a teenage combat-experienced soldier in conventional infantry and village-based reconnaissance and intelligence units. Santoli is a US military veteran of the Vietnam War with three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for valor. He is a graduate of Naropa University in Colorado, where he studied world cultures through world religions and the arts. He is a New York Times Best Selling and Pulitzer Prize nominated author for Everything We Had, Random House. He has authored many other books and monographs on historical subjects. He was chosen by the family of Samuel Clemens as a member of the Mark Twain Society, and he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction and for the American book award. Mr. Santoli has also been a Contributing Editor for PARADE Magazine. He has been a foreign policy and national security advisor in the United State House of Representatives for Chairmen in the International Relations and Armed Services Committees. For 30 years, he has been a humanitarian relief specialist and human rights volunteer: a Senior Fellow at Freedom House, a consultant on refugee protection at the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, and on the Advisory Board of the White House Commission on Remembrance. During the Iraq War, he trained US Marine Corps officers in cultural awareness at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College at Quantico, Virginia. He is a lifelong member of Disabled American Veterans. He studied Aikido and earned a martial arts black belt in Taekwon Do.