While the Arab Spring has highlighted the urgent need to address the economic obstacles that prevent young people from being fully integrated into their societies, it has also opened “civic space” for them to participate in shaping the futures of their communities. Sustainable, lasting social change requires grassroots involvement and participation. We believe that the long-term viability of the youth agenda is strengthened by the engaged participation of young people in solving the challenges that affect them directly.
The importance of youth engagement was highlighted when over 40 university presidents and senior administrators from throughout the Arab world gathered in the Jordanian capital of Amman on February 9-10, 2014 to share experiences and discuss how to better integrate concepts of civic engagement and citizenship within Arab universities. Convened by Silatech in partnership with Innovations for Civic Participation (ICP), “The Role of Civic Engagement in Higher Education” focused on the role of civic engagement in advancing student educational success and university priorities, as well as strategies for embedding civic engagement within university curricula and building sustainable and effective engagement initiatives.
Global civics is an important and new concept. Global civics suggests to understand civics in a global sense as a social contract between the world citizens in the age of interdependence and interaction. It has been developed by Dr. Hakan Altinay, a World Fellow at Yale, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a global ethics fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Dr. Hakan has written a book on Global Civics, which has been translated into several languages in addition to a documentary by the famous Chinese director, Jian Yi. Both the book and the documentary are a response to our increasing global interdependence, as well as a search for how to manage that interdependence. They highlight the importance of uplifting our perspectives towards global interdependence and its attendant responsibilities including environmental issues. “Everyone is a guardian” Mohammad pbuh. The task is enormous and requires all hands on deck. Science will play a pivotal role in identifying the centripetal dynamics; foregrounding overarching human and environmental concerns; and providing key clues on how to overcome this challenge.
I would like to invite you to be a collaborator on a project that focuses on implementing the concept of global civics among university level students in the Arab world. The project is funded by the Fetzer Institute. The Fetzer Institute is based in the United States It’s mission is to foster awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community.
The project seeks to answer the following questions:
- Inspire and provide guidance to science students to become cognizant not only of their social responsibilities (interlaced with love and forgiveness) but also of the role they play in shaping a consequential future that adds up to a global scale.
- Design a curriculum for Global Civics that will be taught to university students in select Arabic-speaking countries.
- Train faculty members to use the curricular package and collect their feedback for further refinement.
- Reach out to the public including performing preparatory work for further dissemination of Global Civics.