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US Ambassador to the UK visits Cardiff University

22 May 2015

US Ambassador to the United Kingdom stands with 2 staff members in front of banners

Matthew W Barzun, US Ambassador to the UK, was warmly welcomed to Cardiff University's School of Law and Politics today

Barzun was appointed as US Ambassador in 2013 and has since became known for his progressive approach to the role; establishing innovative and inclusive ways to interact with British audiences. Barzun, a Harvard graduate, former Internet executive and volunteer in two Obama presidential campaigns, is a prolific presence on Twitter and hands out business cards which invite recipients to tweet him, sharing their frustrations with and inspirations for America.

Interest in Barzun's visit was high with over 200 attendees signing up for the talk, "America's Role in the World: Hands on or Hands off?" within 24 hours of it being announced.

Introduced by Professor Daniel Wincott, Head of Law and Politics, Ambassador Barzun began his engaging talk with audience participation; asking for thoughts on the United States' role in world matters. The room enthusiastically contributed with the majority viewing the US as too involved. But, as Ambassador Barzun went on to explain, a 'hands on' approach means much more than just military intervention. It can also mean a more positive involvement in a situation such as humanitarian aid, sanctions, diplomacy or funding.  He continued by explaining that when the US decides not to get involved in matters, good things tend not to happen but with "hard earned humility", they acknowledge that their involvement in matters on a world stage are not always helpful, citing Vietnam as a very real example.

Ambassador Barzun was keen to hear the thoughts of Cardiff students and staff and opened up discussions to the room, answering a range of questions on topics as diverse as North Korea, cyber warfare, decriminalisation of drugs and human rights. After a varied and thought-provoking conversation, Professor Wincott presented Ambassador Barzun with a copy of the Mabinogion, a book of Welsh folklore translated into English by Cardiff University's Head of the School of Welsh Professor Sioned Davies, to remind him of his time in Wales.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan, said: "Cardiff University was delighted to welcome Ambassador Barzun to Wales. Forging strong links with the United States eases the free-flowing exchange of ideas, bringing cultural, social and economic benefits to both nations. Ambassador Barzun is keen to promote trade and direct investment in Wales, unlocking creativity and innovation to help Welsh companies grow markets and build production facilities in the United States."

Ambassador Barzun was greeted at the school by Cardiff University's Professor Nora de Leeuw, Professor Jonathan Shepherd CBE FMedSci, Professor Daniel Wincott, Dr Christian Bueger, Dr Elisa Wynne-Hughes and Fulbright scholars Scottie Coughlin and Hannah Riskin-Jones. The Fulbright Program is one of the most prestigious awards programs worldwide and was established to increase understanding between the people of the United States and other countries.