Painting by Golnaz Fathi. One of the artist featured in the Middle East Now exhibtion at the British Museum in London.

The rigorous promotion of cultural, social, educational and economic exchanges is the most sensible and least expensive option for managing and resolving global conflict.

We are facing the urgent task of building new institutions with the capacity to encounter the realities of a rapidly globalizing world. This can be accomplished by utilizing highly innovative means to mobilize the world's most creative (intellectual, financial and political) leaders. The global connections that such exchanges encourage must be grounded in authentic dialogue rather than mere public relations efforts.

If the goal is truly to mitigate conflict, going beyond existing channels is precisely what is needed. The traditional approach lacks the dynamic vision to lead a process that embraces the new realities created by globalization. In a transitional period resembling the era leading up to the collapse of colonialism, it is no longer sufficient to "think outside the box," we must move outside the box.

What is urgently needed in the post-9/11 world is a new infrastructure that synthesizes and mediates cultural and political dimensions on a global scale, diligent in its effort to overcome systemic barriers to free exchange of ideas.

Such an infrastructure requires an integration of cross-cutting concerns that recognizes the powerful role that cultural values and attitudes have in facilitating or hindering human progress. It demands integrating culture into development policies, planning and crisis management. Designing new and more appropriate channels of communication, dialogue and education can help us to deal with the daunting task of resolving the crises facing humanity.