Dr Scherto Gill at the 2020 G20 Interfaith Forum

GHFP Senior Fellow Scherto Gill at 2020 G20 Interfaith Forum

On 15th October, GHFP’s Senior Fellow, Dr Scherto Gill, presented an Education Policy Brief at the G20 Interfaith Forum. She highlights the importance of exploring interfaith perspectives and interfaith organisations contribution to the global agendas, such as UN SDGs, the UN Convention on Climate Change, and so forth. Below is the transcript of her presentation.

Greetings to all. It is such a privilege for me to take part in this distinguished panel, and my sincere gratitude goes to the organisers for creating such an important spacue at the G20 Interfaith Forum for a most timely dialogue about education.

Let me begin by recalling the two aspirations that have brought us together:

One is this year’s G20 Presidency Agenda, which calls on G20 leaders to “empower people, pave the way for a better future for all.” Hence, the theme: Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All.

The other is the raison-d’etre of the G20 Interfaith Forum. As already highlighted during the Opening Plenary, the Forum offers a platform where rich ideas, and values-based actions of the world’s religious, faith and interfaith communities contributing to the global agendas are heard and understood.

Indeed, under these aspirations, and in partnership with the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, the G20 Interfaith Forum launched an Education Task Force, consisting of experts from major global organisations, such as the Aga Khan Global Network, Arigatou International, Dream a Dream India, Open Society Foundations, Global Centre for Pluralism, and Plan C: Culture and Cohesion.

I had the honour of facilitating the Task Force research that explored precisely the intersection between interfaith organisations and communities’ educational initiatives and the relevant UN SDGs especially 3, 4 and 5, namely promoting health and wellbeing, quality and equality of education.

The research brought to light that during the COVID-19 pandemic, interfaith organisations in many settings have been empowering local communities to close the gaps resulted from school closures, lack of public services due to lockdown, and isolation. They also provided practical support to address the acute social, emotional and spiritual needs of children and young people at this difficult time.

What else have the Task Force learned from the research in terms of the priorities in education policy that encourage inclusion and diversity? I will briefly mention three points which I believe are particularly innovative and pertinent to this panel’s dialogue:

First, from an interfaith perspective, educational inclusion is more than ensuring access to schooling. Many interfaith educational programmes conceive inclusion as, above all, the nurturing of the whole child, and supporting every child’s well-being in all dimensions of their development, physical, social-emotional, intellectual, moral, cultural, and spiritual.

Second, an interfaith perspective, especially through the lenses of love, compassion, respect, and humility, tends to advocate the view that human diversity is to be celebrated, and that the presence of difference in the educational environments can serve to enrich our pedagogical practices, and encourage educators to be more sensitive to the evolving well-being and learning needs of all students.

Third, an interfaith approach demonstrates that embracing inclusion and diversity must be an integral endeavour. That is to say that these must not be treated as isolated gestures, or add-ons. Instead, inclusion and diversity must be a whole system process where the empowerment of educators is a key.

Based on these insights, the G20 Interfaith Forum Education Task Force were able to develop an education Policy Brief for the consideration of G20 leaders, highlighting three policy priorities:

  1. Advancing the Wellbeing of Every Child as the Core Aim of Education
  2. Ensuring Active Participation of All in Inclusive Learning Environments
  3. Aligning Teachers’ Professional Learning with a Wellbeing and Inclusion Focus  

Illustrative practices within these policy priorities include, for instance, interfaith curriculum, interreligious literacy, relational pedagogy, democratic participation, actively engaging students at the margin, empowerment of girls, dialogic and collaborative learning, and connecting teaching and learning to students’ lived realities,

To conclude:

These interfaith perspectives also prompt us to realise that education already holds the ‘cure’ of the widespread social malaise. Hence it is not an exaggeration to propose that the ‘vaccine’ to end the hidden pandemic, i.e. the prevailing social inequality and injustice, that has plagued humanity for so long, is precisely to be found in our education system only if it is inclusive, human-centred, and caring, and only if it aims to nurture the well-being of all, and realise opportunities for all.

As John Dewey cautioned, unless we do so, we will rob our children of their tomorrow.

peace and peacefulness

GHFP Paperback: Understanding Peace Holistically

gillthomson2019_understanding-peace_holistically

Understanding Peace Holistically: From the Spiritual to the Political

This GHFP book argues that spiritually rooted and morally oriented peacefulness is relevant to the socio-economic–political structures that provide the conditions for a culture of peace. As the authors build up a theory of peace from the spiritual to the relational and communal towards the socio-political, this book also identifies key principles that characterise international and institutional processes that nurture peace. The holistic conception of peace developed in this book may guide and inspire individuals, institutions, and international organisations with regards to how to make peace.

This book is now available on Peter Lang’s website, and on Amazon.

Webinar: Impact of COVID-19 on Religious and Faith Communities

International Webinar: The impact of COVID-19 on religious and faith communities

On 27 May at 4pm CET, the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute partnered with the GHFP Research Institute, the Spirit of Humanity Forum, the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) and the United Religions Initiative, and held a webinar examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on religious and faith communities around the world.

Questions discussed during the webinar were:

  • What are the pandemic’s major impact on religious and faith communities? How might religious leaders and their followers help embrace the challenges brought by the pandemic?
  • How might we reduce social tension stemming from religious factors at this unique time? How can we do to foster solidarity within and between different religious and faith communities and improve mental and physical well-being during the pandemic?
  • What religious, faith and spiritual practices could become part of the new normal in a post-COVID-19 world? What could be the part of religion, faith and spirituality in future of our society?

The event featured the following speakers:

Katherine Marshall, Senior Fellow, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University / Executive Director, World Faiths Development Dialogue

Victor Kazanjian, Executive Director, United Religions Initiative

Patrice Brodeur, Professor, Institute of Religious Studies, University of Montreal & Senior Adviser, KAICIID

The Webinar was facilitated by Scherto Gill, Senior Research Fellow and Executive Secretary, GHFP Research Institute.

To view the event:

On YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCXMYNkGKho

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DOCResearchInstitute/videos/832214357304217/UzpfSTEwNTA2NTU0NTgzNTIyNjY6MzAyMzMyMTA1MTA4NTY4Nw/

International Seminar on Trustbuilding and Collective Healing, 30th October at IofC London

Hosted by IofCI’s Trustbuilding Program in partnership with the GHFP Research Institute, this international seminar offers a unique opportunity to meet, share and discuss the process of building trust.

At a time of increasing fragmentation, trust is diminishing around the world. Communities face racial, ethnic and religious divides, intergenerational conflict, and the rise of extremist attitudes, as well as social divisions and the legacy of war. The Seminar poses a critical question: “How can we address these challenges?”

Among the discussants will be Letlapa Mphahlele, commander of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army during apartheid times. His anger was such that he ordered retaliatory massacres of white civilians. After a radical transformation he now sees the whole of humanity as ‘my people’. Letlapa, who, until 2013, was President of the Pan Africanist Congress and a Member of the South African Parliament, is a protagonist in the award-winning film, Beyond Forgiving, which depicts a profound story of tragedy, forgiveness and hope.

This is by invitation-only event. For further information and interest to contribute, please contact events@ghfp.org.

International Symposium: Collective Healing of Traumas: New Possibilities for Peace in Communities 24 Sept 2019

Collective and community initiatives can empower those suffering from the wounds of a violent past to collaborate towards mutual healing, thus creating new possibilities for peace.

To better understand the significance of these community-rooted collective healing endeavours, the GHFP and the UNESCO Slave Route Project hosted a one-day International Symposium, at the Royal Society for the Arts in London.

The event brought together practitioners and scholars who have experiences and expertise in the field of communal and collective healing of mass traumas, for an intimate dialogue focused around three core questions:

  1. What are the typical psychological and social symptoms encountered in communities resulting from the experience and legacies of past atrocities?
  2. What might constitute collective healing in these situations? 
  3. How do community-based processes and practices contribute to collective healing? (And how would the community evaluate collective healing? What are the relevant indicators that some healing has taken place?)

Presentations included the Australia’s journey of healing through the Sorry Day marches, the Healing the Wounds of History programme in Lebanon, Foresee Research Group’s restorative healing approaches in Hungary, critical reflection on the structural conditions of healing from the perspectives of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation, the Initiatives of Change International’s Trustbuilding in the communities programme, and the Peace Charter of Forgiveness and Reconciliation.    Read HERE Collective_Healing_Mass_Trauma_Concept_Note. Please return soon for links to videos of presentations and other information following the event.

Creators of Peace Circles: March and October 2020

What would it mean to be a creator of peace in your own life, family, community, country and world?

This year, the GHFP will be hosting two Women’s Peace Circles at our Brighton premises, in collaboration with Creators of Peace (CofP). We invite friends and colleagues (and those who are new to our work!) to join us during the weekends of 20th-22nd March or 2nd-4th October 2020.

For nearly 30 years, Creators of Peace has been bringing together women across the globe, from all backgrounds, ages and cultures who seek empowerment, inspiration and hope in our current global contexts.

Come and participate, learn, discuss, grow, share stories and explore how you can be a creator of peace.

Colleagues from CofP facilitate a ‘talking circle’, where all voices are respectfully heard, establishing shared values which will allow the group to explore diverse perspectives on topics such as:

  • What is peace?
  • Circles of concern and hope
  • What builds and destroys peace?
  • Qualities and strategies of a peacemaker
  • Inner Peace
  • Inner Listening
  • Listening to others
  • The power of forgiveness
  • Putting peace into action

Programme:

  • Friday:      6.30pm – 9.30pm: Peace Circle Session I (includes supper)
  • Saturday:  9.30am – 6.30pm: Peace Circle Session II (includes lunch)
  • Sunday:     9.30am – 3.30pm: Peace Circle Session III (includes lunch)

Venue:
Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace (GHFP),
199 Preston Road, Brighton, East Sussex,
BN1 6SA United Kingdom

This programme is offered free of charge, sponsored by the GHFP and Creators of Peace volunteers.

Spaces are limited, please email events@ghfp.org to request a booking form, indicating which peace circle (March or October) you are interested to attend.

International Peace Dialogue Series

In 2015-2016, the GHFP and partners launched a three-part dialogue series in order to explore the nature of peace and how to apply this understanding in the process of creating a global culture of peacefulness.

The first dialogue was hosted by the GHFP in December 2015 in East Sussex, England. This dialogue was specifically concerned with building structural peace and took our innate peacefulness as a given. Therefore the focus was on the structures, systems and institutional cultures required to bring about a common political vision of peace as well as on identifying particular practices of peace and peacefulness which could lead to the transformation of individuals and communities internationally and globally.

The second dialogue, held at the Fetzer Institute in June 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, explored the nature of peacefulness from its spiritual dimension and consider the realities within a given local context, such as communities, that might support the practice of peacefulness. A distinct theme is transformation through a spiritual pathway and how it might inspire us to live our lives from the inside out in more peaceful ways and towards a global transition from separation and fear to interconnection, oneness and love.

The third dialogue took place in October 2016 in Reykjavik as part of the inaugural seminar of Reykjavik Centre for Peace and the celebration of 30th anniversary of Regan and Gorbachev meeting in Reykjavik. It sought to investigate features of peaceful governance and international policies of a peaceful state. Important questions, such as ‘How might we express the spiritual depths of peacefulness within a systemic context, such as a city or a nation?’ and ‘What are the criteria for a city or a nation and its institutions to be deservedly counted as peaceful?’ were posed in this dialogue to understand political processes, including the responsibilities of individuals, institutions and communities, that contribute to the collective intention of peace.

This dialogue series led to a book entitled ‘Peacefulness: Being Peace and Making Peace’, published by the Spirit of Humanity Press in 2018.

Hungarian Life Histories Research

Recognising the urgency of the fact that that unless historical traumas are processed and healed by one generation, they are passed on to the next, and realising that 20th century ideologies in Hungary have shaped individuals’ life paths and that political conflicts have prepared the ground for continuing violence by representing the ‘other’ as less than human, the GHFP has embarked on a research project that aims to get behind the ideological masks of people and restore their human faces.

Overseen by the GHFP’s Vice Chairman, Sharif Istvan Horthy, the research seeks to construct a space for telling and listening to life stories of ordinary Hungarian people who come from different backgrounds and generations. This life history and narrative process is intended to help unfold how Hungarians see themselves and their recent collective past, and what being Hungarian means to them in the 21st Century.

This life history project is itself an action research. It aims to reflect on the narrative processes and the participants’ experiences of change in their perception of self-identity, their stories and the ways they see others and the socio-economic and political situations in Hungary. In this way, the research methodology, especially through non-judgmental and open listening, seems to have enabled the participants to discover the underlying causes of current (social and political) attitudes. Whilst encouraging the participants to narrate their own lives and listen and attend to the stories of others, this action research is offering an opportunity for the community to re-vision Hungary’s social future. Those individuals who took part in the research project have acknowledged being able to see a close connection between retelling and sharing personal experiences and perspectives, and reconciling these with past traumas and the ways in which they can move forward in life and work.