- UPEACE FACULTY HIGHLIGHT THE CLOSING PLENARY:
April 3, 2016. San Jose, Costa Rica. UPEACE Professors from the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, Virginia Cawagas, Gal Harmat and Toh Swee-Hin, participated as speakers at the Closing Plenary session of the 3rd Global Summit on Childhood held on March 31st to April 3, 2016 in San Jose, Costa Rica. The Global Summit which registered more than 400 participants from all over the world representing 40 countries had for its theme “Creating a Better World for Children and Youth through Sustainability, Social Innovation, and Synergy.
Prof. Cawagas started the plenary by clarifying the vision and mission of UPEACE:
"to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace and with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations".
Emphasizing that peace education is grounded in values, Prof. Cawagas presented seven values or the 7Cs for transformative education which included compassion, conscientization, conciliation, constructiveness, commitment, communion and contemplation.
Prof. Harmat followed by describing how her human rights education course challenged the students to analyze the hidden curriculum of children’s story books and apply critical readings into these stories as well as alternative ways of addressing and writing human rights sensitive children’s books. She then presented a sample of the work of her students using art to educate children and adults alike on the need for and challenges to human rights education.
Prof. Toh concluded the UPEACE panel presentation with a flower metaphor reflecting the multi-dimensional themes of educating for a culture of peace and the pedagogical principles in peace education which were woven relevantly with the goals of the Global Summit such as: “providing an interdisciplinary platform among the global community to explore the role of the childhood experience in achieving a sustainable human future; highlighting innovative approaches, collaborative efforts, and practices that address human development needs, beginning at childhood, and building momentum for a global movement to support a positive childhood that promotes equity, peace and development”.
Prof. Toh also emphasized that peace education promotes not only critical understanding of the root causes of conflicts but also moves learners to engage as local and global citizens in individual and social action for transformation.
All three speakers clarified that these values and principles also demonstrate the importance of a hopeful vision of building peace for humanity and mother Earth, as exemplified in the motto of the World Social Forum that gathers together many thousands of peoples in movements for social justice, peace, human rights and sustainability, namely “Another World is Possible “.
Diane Whitehead, Executive Director of the Association for Early Childhood International (ACEI), thanked the plenary speakers for their critical and creative ideas and gave assurance that the UPEACE contribution in the Closing Plenary will be disseminated and discussed for the consideration of conference delegates.
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