As I gasp a breath of fresh air at the International Peace Park in Kaeng Krachan, Thailand, it allows me to write some observations from a hectic period of travelling for 4 weeks to 6 countries organizing conferences, negotiating MOUs with new partners to AUSN, and speaking at conferences around the globe. Catching my breath for the flight to India to host the 14th Asian Bioethics Conference.
The Peace Park symbolic for our Progress
It is a pleasure to be sitting under a tropical tree in Kaeng Krachan for a brief retreat from the sun, 35 degrees C (which is about 100F for people in USA), 80% plus humidity, after digging holes, shifting rocks to make peace paths.
Thank God for others help from YPA participants and Ananya Trithipthumrongchok and the staff of the International Peace and Development Ethics Centre, as the conversion back to a Peace Park from a Peace “jungle” from the tropical weed growth…the paths could be cleared and trees uncovered. The Zen garden needed some help from the tractor to clear it…but most of the weeding was by hand! Each trip back to South Asia is via Bangkok allowing some weeding! Volunteers are still most welcome.
Well the trees that we planted at YPA5 have lived up to any educators dream for those we mentor… Whether it be the ironwood that may live 1500 years, or the teak that just grow straight up, many over 6m (c.20 foot) from 20cm (8 inch) sticks that looked like a disposable chopstick…after 12 months. I spent every free day between all my flights to conferences in and out of the hub, Bangkok, weeding the Peace Park. At the end of the rainy season a chance to try to overcome the weeds… Also a chance to burn off some extra calories. Well there is a lot of extra news as well.
Signing of the Collaborative agreement between AUSN and Gangneung-Wonju National University, Gangwon, Republic of Korea.
AUSN is proud to sign an Academic Cooperation Agreement with Gangneung-Wonju National University (GWNU). GWNU is recognized as one of the preeminent research universities ranked 1st among Korean universities and 6th among Asian universities with regard to number of research papers in the 2009 Asia QS Universities Evaluation. The university has undergraduate Courses in 54 departments in the 8 colleges, and graduate programs for Masters and doctoral programs. Gangwon is on the East coast of the Republic of Korea, and a stately house, Ojukheon is the birthplace of Korea’s most famous scholar and politician, Yulgok Yi, and his mother Sinsaimdang. Yulgok Yi and Ojukheon are prominent enough to be drawn in the 5,000 won Korean bill. Korean women pray to Sinsaimdang for childbirth.
I gave an invited paper on “Comparisons of the Ethical Mind of American Indian and Asian Peoples” at the 4th International Conference on Comparative Studies of Mind (ICCSM): The Geography of Asian Mind at Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea from 1-3 November. The occasion of my visit also allowed me to see dear friends and professors in Korea to discuss linkages between AUSN and Korea. The conference also allowed revisiting the Behaviorome project which I started in 2002 to map all the ideas of the human mind. There is complementarity between the Mind Studies initative, the Repository of Ethical World Views of Nature and the Mental Mapping project that we will explore further in 2014. Prof. Kwon and Lee are leading development of a collection of papers from around Asia of different ethnic groups ideas.
Incidentally, I also have been discussing with Professor Ryo Takahashi, one of AUSN visiting professors from Japan, linkages between Asia and native Americans, in languages and culture, which is an interesting topic for collaboration. However, studies of the ancestral relationships of different communities must be done sensitively to the ancestral histories that Peoples accept in popular tradition.
AGREENSkills in Brussels
I am a member of the Ethics Commission of AgreenSkills, a programme funded by the European Commission to encourage innovation in young scientists, especially in life science fields. The programme annual meeting was held 4-7 November in Belgium and I gave a keynote on “Resolving ethical dilemmas faced in our scientific research”. There was also discussion of integrity in research, and how to build up the capacity of ethical reflection in life scientists.
Youth for Peace Programme, 8 November 2013, Coventry Council House, Coventry, England – City of Peace,
I spoke at a Youth Peace Ambassador organized event in Coventry, hosted by Ms. Morenike Olufon, a Nigerian student at Coventry University. There was an active discussion of what young people could do to work for peace, and a chance to meet several earlier YPA trainees as well.
While in Coventry I also spend a couple of hours discussing collaboration with Professor Alpaslan Özerdem, Director, Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies, discussing potential grant applications and cooperative research to help disadvantaged communities globally, along with Native Americans.
Humans and Nature: Love and Hate? World Views of Nature Workshop, 9 November 2013, Norwood Hall, Southall, London, England.
Participants from around the world discussed the World Views of Nature project, which explores commonalities and differences between ethical and value systems, and poses the question whether the pursuit of universal environmental values promoted at the United Nations is realistically workable. With our failure to meet the millennium development goals (MDGs) now looming over us and little progress made in halting climate change on a global scale, we will be examining whether a different approach to bringing about environmental consciousness and real action might be preferable as the global environmental crisis is arguably deepening. The dialogue featured a series of talks exploring the role environmental ethics can play in influencing environmental policy, as well as examining different environmental ethics from across the world.
The event was cosponsored by Sri Guru Singh Sabha, The Sikh Human Rights Group, Eubios Ethics Institute and AUSN. Participants also enjoyed a 30 minute Sitar recital during the day.
Bioethics in South-East Asian countries, National Taiwan University, 14-17 November 2013, Taipei, Taiwan.
This meeting was to discuss a collaborative doctoral degree in bioethics, with the aim of enhancing capacity in teaching and research in bioethics. There was the formal launch of the Asia-Pacific Bioethics Education Consortium
Chair: Soenarto Sastrowijoto
Deputy Chairs: Paul Komesaroff, Darryl Macer
Co-Directors, Education: Wen Yu Hu and Kusmaryanto
Co-Directors, Research: Yati Soenato, Amalia Muhaimin, Soraj Hongladarom
Secretary: Duujian Tsai, with assistance from Azid Nur Mahardinata
Treasurer: Zabidi Hussin
Website managers: Teguh Haryo Sasongko
Co-Directors, International cooperation: Beth Rivin and Dena Hsin
It was a chance to meet 7 of the Visiting Professors to AUSN at one point, all who are involved in the collaboration and initiative. AUSN is joining with UGM and Chulalongkorn University which it already has MOUs with, and other universities in the group, such as USM, NTU and Taipei Medical University (TMU).
The photo of the Dean of the School of Medicine, National Taiwan University (NTU), along with Prof. (Ms) Hu of NTU, myself and Prof. Duujian Tsai (TMU), discussing collaboration.
More news from the trip in the December news update. The global network of AUSN is expanding, and we expect many students from collaborating universities to visit us in 2014 for conferences and summer schools.