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ILC2020 The Americas Session 7: Breaking Down the Walls—Pursuing Interdependence for a Community for Peace

The Americas—The International Association of Academicians (IAAP) addressed the topic “Breaking Down the Walls—Pursuing Interdependence for a Community for Peace” as part of UPF’s global problem-solving conference. It was one of nine webinar sessions simultaneously occurring in three time zones (Korea, Japan, Asia-Pacific; Africa, Europe, Middle East; North America, Central America, South America, Caribbean) during the September 11–13 International Leadership Conference. The online program was open to all who registered and was watched by 588 viewers.

The moderator was Mr. Robert Duffy, secretary general of UPF Canada.

Dr. Sung-bae Jin (Chairman, Hyo Jeong Academic Foundation, Korea) opened by saying that the idea of interdependence is “meaningless—unless we create a space for God, or a universal parental conscience, at the center of our work.” He called academicians to pioneer this way in order to assist in solving the difficult problems that now shackle democracies “to individualism, materialism, the decline of Christian ethics, and the monopolization of land and property.”  

Dr. Elmer Evangelista Sánchez (President, Association of Former Senators and Deputies of Peru) placed the rich and diverse resources of his country at the service to the world. Technology, infrastructure and education are needed for its 32 million inhabitants to become real assets in a peaceful Pacific civilization.

Dr. Fabio Henrique Pereira (President, Municipal Faculty of Palhoça, Brazil) lamented the attack on morals and traditional values that has made society unstable. He graciously called for a peaceful value system that can mitigate the differences between nations and cultures.

Dr. Ivania Toruño Padilla (President, University of Commercial Sciences, Nicaragua) expressed her “greatest love, respect and congratulations for Mother Moon, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, for her continuing seeking peace for all nations and for allowing us to be part of this magnificent event, the International Association of Academicians for Peace. It is a great honor for us to pursue UN Sustainability Goal 4, Quality Education for All, in new ways with less bureaucracy through the effects of this pandemic.”

Dr. Iouri Pankrats (Professor, Linguistics, Simon Fraser University, Canada) posed several passionate questions as a committed Ambassador for Peace for 15 years. He was concerned about the effectiveness of peaceful demonstrations in authoritarian political climates, such as the one in Belarus.

Dr. Alexandre Mansourov (Adjunct Professor, Security Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, DC) said that the pandemic “transformed higher education like no other event in recent memory. In a matter of days, Covid just closed campuses and moved classes online, basically altering every part of the educational experience.” He continued, “Enrollment has gone down dramatically; research funding is down substantially; endowment returns are down.” Universities are forced to rethink what they are offering students in the context of a lingering disease, political uncertainty, and public unrest. As educators, “we are not here to offer edutainment: we are here to engage students in higher learning.”

“The time has come for the internet for all,” said Prof. Alvis Gonzalez Garita (Professor of Law, Costa Rica). “Humanity needs access to information, knowledge in the most remote places on the planet. We cannot generate a more unequal world than the current one. We must change.” He proclaimed, “We are ready, as a great universal family under the protection of the Supreme Being, to now demonstrate solidarity.”

“All academicians can be engaged in peace-building,” Dr. Thomas Selover (International Co-coordinator, IAAP) reassured. The walls of separation “between fields and disciplines” has made knowledge fragmented. “We need to work together in the spirit of interdependence for the community of peace.” He asserted that “interdependence is a basic fact of life.” So, “when we look for interdependence, we will find it everywhere.”

The September 11–13 International Leadership Conference was created to engage world leaders and citizens on issues ranging from rebuilding post Covid-19 economies to cooperative peacemaking. Under the rubric of UPF’s signature values of interdependence, mutual prosperity, and universal values, its aim was to address solutions in commerce, health, environment, family, and social issues. “This year has seen dramatic disruptions not only due to the Covid-19 epidemic but in geopolitics, the world economy, the media, religion and all levels of society,” observes UPF International Chair Dr. Thomas Walsh. “And yet, while there are reasons to despair, there is tremendous goodwill and desire to act on emerging opportunities and innovations that can relieve suffering around the world.”


To go back to the Executive summary, click here.

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