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UNG hosts British Consul General from Atlanta

British Consul visit
British Consul General Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford talks about the United Kingdom's Marshall Scholarship Program.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) hosted British Consul General Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford from Atlanta on April 26 in a visit aimed at sharing information about UNG's international mission and allowing students to hear about diplomacy and foreign service first-hand.

“America’s relationships with the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries, including and especially the traditional allies of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, are among our most important," Dr. Billy Wells, senior vice president for leadership and global engagement at UNG, said. "We are engaging with higher education in these nations where we share a common heritage, language, and strategic interests.  The Consul General continues to play an important role in that effort.”

During his visit, Pilmore-Bedford spoke to an undergraduate global issues course, explaining the role of the consulate and sharing his experiences in foreign service. A study abroad experience in the U.S. during college sparked his interest in international relations. Pilmore-Bedford joined the British Foreign Office in 1990 after graduating in politics, history and economics.

"I have done an exchange with a U.S. university in New York and had later interned for a U.S. congressman in Washington, so I really got the international relations bug by coming to your country," he said.

Pilmore-Bedford has served overseas in Qatar, Singapore, Russia, and Malaysia and specialized in international economics and the former Soviet Union. He worked on the Russian economy after that country's financial crisis and worked in the Foreign Office's planning staff on supporting democratic reform in Ukraine after the 2004 Orange Revolution.

At the British Consulate in Atlanta, Pilmore-Bedford leads a team that works throughout the Southeast to promote UK-US trade and investment, support British nationals, conduct public diplomacy on key issues, and build scientific cooperation.

"In a huge country like the United States, we cannot reach everybody or at all understand a country like yours by just sitting in Washington," he said. "So to help us understand the real United States and to help us reach different parts of the country, we have consulates that are headed by a career diplomat."

He also talked about Brexit, Britain's move to leave the European Union, which will occur at 11 p.m. UK time on March 29, 2019. Britain, he said, is working to avoid predicted pitfalls of the change while seeking to capitalize on advantages such as an opportunity to increase Britain's global outreach.

"The British government has been very clear that Britain was not turning its back on the world, in fact quite the contrary," he said. "The British government has emphasized that we are going to make sure that when we leave Europe we take the opportunity to be more globally engaged. And a part of that, the British government has put more resources into the British foreign service. We have money now to open another 10 embassies in diplomatic posts around the world, and we have got money to add another 250 career diplomats to our service, which is the biggest boost we've had for well over 15 to 20 years."  

Pilmore-Bedford also attended a briefing about UNG's Institute for Leadership & Security Studies, discussed the qualifications and requirements for the Marshall Scholarship Program, and met with UNG President Bonita Jacobs.

Accompanying the consul general was Erica Stevens, a senior representative of the Welsh government who works out of the British Consulate General – Atlanta. UNG is exploring partnerships with Brunel University Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies in London, Pilmore-Bedford's alma mater, and Kings College Department for War Studies. UNG has a relationship established with Aberystwyth University in Wales.

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