Past Meetup

The increasing role of soft power in a hard world, with Indra Adnan

This Meetup is past

46 people went

Price: £5.00 /per person
Location image of event venue


We live in a world with increasingly powerful technology that is increasingly widely disseminated. There are also large numbers of people who feel alienated and disaffected from modern society. Add in apocalyptic ideologies, resurgent nationalism, and the use of social media to spread incendiary messages around the world at the speed of light, and we reach a global situation with unprecedented dangers. For example, it may soon be the case that weapons of mass destruction can be assembled and then used by small groups of mavericks, with fearful consequences.

In these circumstances, continued reliance of "hard power" - military force, sanctions, threats, aggression - brings its own risks. Accordingly, this talk proposes an increasingly important role for "soft power".

As stated in Wikipedia (, "Soft power is the ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction. A defining feature of soft power is that it is non-coercive; the currency of soft power is culture, political values, and foreign policies."

The talk explores what can be done - using technology, education, and other means - to make humanity kinder, more compassionate, wiser, and more fulfilled. The result would be a society that attracts and inspires would-be drop-outs, rather than repelling them and turning them into terrorists or militarists. In this way, the dangers of excess use of hard power can be handled successfully.

The talk also:

• Looks at the history of the concept of soft power
• Provides examples of the success of soft power
• Suggests how soft power can be developed
• Explores the connections between soft power and feminist power
• Reviews the growing importance of non-state actors, from a soft power perspective
• Depicts a vision for humans transcending present-day habits, culture, and behaviour.

About the speaker:

Indra Adnan MSc HGIDip is a writer, soft power consultant, and psycho-social therapist.

For over twenty years, Indra has been writing, consulting, network-building and event-organising in the international arena of soft power, conflict transformation and integral leadership.

As founder and Director of the Soft Power Network (, she works in both the public and private sphere advising on personal, local and global agency. Recently qualified as a psycho-social therapist, Indra is also a partner in New Integrity management consultancy, founder / Director of The Downing Street Project ( for balanced leadership, and a freelance project director for Compass ( think tank. Her clients have held senior posts at the World Economic Forum, Indian government, the British Council, the Scottish Executive and the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

She writes regularly for The Guardian ( and The Huffington Post ( and her e-books Soft Power Agenda and New Times are available on (

The daughter of an Indonesian Muslim father and a Dutch Catholic mother, Indra is now a Buddhist living in North London with her partner and teenage son.

Meeting logistics:

2pm-4pm, Saturday 12th December 2015.

Venue: Room B18, Birkbeck College (, Torrington Square WC1E 7HX, London.

Room B18 is on the basement floor in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

Coffee and other light refreshments can be purchased from the Costa Coffee shop in the reception area of the building, either ahead of or after the meeting.

The event will be followed by a chance to continue the discussion in a nearby pub - The Marlborough Arms (, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ.

Event hashtag:

#LonFut (

Covering meeting costs:

A small fee (£5) is payable to attend this meetup. This fee covers room hire costs. Please pay in advance, online, after you RSVP.

This will be refunded if the meeting is cancelled or rearranged, or if the attendee cancels at least 3 days before the meetup.

Alternatively, if there are still seats available, payment can be made in cash at the door on the day. (Requesting payment in advance assists with accurate planning of the event.)

Journalists are welcome to attend the meeting free-of-charge - please contact the organiser, notifying us in advance of your plans to attend.