[Sponsored Report] Festival looks for peace in turbulent times

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[Sponsored Report] Festival looks for peace in turbulent times

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The Grand Peace Hall, the main venue of the festival.


Kyung Hee University is hosting the Peace BAR Festival 2012, which starts today and runs until Friday, in celebration of the 31st UN International Day of Peace.

The festival is a global celebration among scholars, students and citizens from home and abroad held in an effort to create a human society that is “spiritually beautiful, materially affluent and universally rewarding.”

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The Peace BAR Festival is an event where local and overseas scholars, students, and citizens get together to realize a human society that is “spiritually beautiful, materially affluent and humanly rewarding.” It is part of Kyung Hee University’s efforts to fulfill its social responsibility and make the future of the world more beautiful. Pictured above are a roundtable discussion and stage performance from last year’s event.

This is a continuation of Kyung Hee University’s efforts to fulfill its social responsibility and create a better world. In 1981, Kyung Hee University proposed the idea of the UN International Year of Peace (1986) and the International Day of Peace (Sept. 21), and since 1982, the institution has hosted international conferences each year to commemorate the International Day of Peace.

The Peace BAR Festival began in 2004 and also served as a groundbreaking ceremony for the UN Peace Park and Global NGO Complex as an extension of the 1999 Seoul International Conference of NGOs. Last year, Humanitas College, a liberal arts college, and Global Service Corps were launched in a celebration of humanities and social responsibility.

The theme for this year’s Peace BAR Festival is “Humanity, Politics and Civilizations.” At this point in time when modern Western civilization is struggling with famine, disease, human rights, violence, climate change, ecological crises and other global concerns, festival participants hope to search for fundamental solutions including innovate policies based on the latest knowledge.

Unlike past Peace BAR Festivals where scholars from home and abroad were the main presenters, this year’s event features a special lecture by Prof. Immanuel Wallerstein, a U.S. sociologist, and a roundtable discussion. Considered to be a world-renowned scholar in the field of social science, Wallerstein’s main area of research is the capitalist world system, which the scholar argues have reached a crisis point and possible extinction after years of production and development. The professor also examines the modern knowledge system, and how it identifies and describes the world we live in today.

Wallerstein asserts that the capitalist system can no longer function properly because of structural flaws. At the same time, he criticizes the modern knowledge system as being based on Western universalism and lacking tools to identify and solve problems.

In such a time as this, the search begins for answers to the current crisis, including how to create a new knowledge paradigm. Organizers say the talks with Wallerstein are meant to be intellectually stimulating and offer creative ideas in the search for solutions to global crises and the shift in our civilization.

The American scholar, who currently serves as a senior research scholar at Yale University’s sociology department, is widely known in Korea as many of his books have been translated into Korean. They include several volumes of “The Modern World System,” “Utopistics,” “The End of the World As We Know It” and “European Universalism.

While listening to the valuable discussions with Wallerstein, who has often warned of the decline of U.S. hegemony as well as the fundamental flaws of the capitalist system, festival participants hope to discover breakthrough solutions to the critical crises facing modern civilization today.

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In addition to the talks, the festival includes several other promising events. The opening ceremony, featuring a contemporary dance performance titled “The Station of Water,” is to be held at 6:30 p.m. today in the Grand Peace Hall of Kyung Hee University’s Seoul campus.

“The Station of Water” is based on a poem titled “If We Could Meet in Water” by Kang Eun-kyo, who used images of water and fire to illustrate one’s desire for an ideal world beyond conflict and enmity. Just like the poem, the performance is a reflection of the true values for which the festival advocates.

Following the performance, Wallerstein will deliver his special lecture titled “The Politics of a Civilizational Transformation.” It is meant to explore the birth of new politics and examine new political subjects to creatively and dynamically navigate global political transitions after a major civilization shift.

At 2 p.m. tomorrow, there will be a discussion including Wallerstein and domestic scholars in Cheongwoongwan on the Seoul campus. The title of the talk is “Structures of Knowledge: Epistemological Reconvergence of Science and the Humanities?”

Going beyond the modern knowledge system based on European universalism, the goal of this discussion is to fundamentally re-examine the world and seek a new knowledge paradigm through which one can study civilization. Participants also plan to discuss the roles of intellectuals and higher education in achieving their goals.

From 6:30 p.m. in Grand Peace Hall, a wide variety of events will be held, including the Kyung Hee Global Service Corps Festival and the College of Art & Design’s concert dedicated to the UN International Day of Peace.

On Friday, the final day of the festival, the UNAI ASPIRE Kyung Hee Forum will be held on the Global Campus under the theme “Conflict Prevention in Northeast Asia: The Roles of the United Nations and the Youth.”

The forum will consist of presentations by key policy makers and scholars from Korea, China and Japan. It will also include a panel of students from UNAI ASPIRE, a worldwide network of university students. Like the scholars, they will make presentations and participate in discussions with relevant stakeholders.

The opening ceremony, special lecture, roundtable discussion and other major events of the Peace BAR Festival 2012 can all be found online and will be available live for interested viewers. For more information, visit www.khu.ac.kr or www.facebook.com/KHUPBF.

By Lee Ji-hyun [concordia@joongang.co.kr]

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