Peace education

Education, October 26, 2008
Nobel laureates and international personalities will be in the country to hold talks, workshops and dialogues over the next six months to help promote peace

We will have world peace if we all just learn to understand each other. But to do that, we need education. “Peace is also not a passive state, it is a process which needs time, attention and the participation from all of us.

“And peace begins with education. The seeds of peace need to be planted in schools, in universities, in the new generation,” says International Peace Foundation (IPF) chairman, Uwe Morawetz, in an e-mail interview.

On the basis of his vision of education and peace, the IPF launched their event series “Bridges-Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace” (Bridges) in Malaysia on Oct 22, after similar Bridges programmes in Thailand and Philippines.

The programme involves a series of over 50 talks, workshops, and dialogues, to be held from Nov 2008 to April 2009, by several Nobel laureates for peace, physics, chemistry, medicine and economics in local universities and institutions.

The programme, jointly chaired by the Raja Muda of Perak Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah, and former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam, aims to bring together people in business, politics, arts and the media.

It is all not just talks, Morawetz explains. He hopes this will be the start of research collaborations.

“It is our hope that the visits of these Nobel laureates will be the beginning of more trips to Malaysia.

“There should be many fruitful returns to build long-lasting friendships and to start, for instance, research programmes or other forms of cooperation with local universities and schools,” he says.

The speakers will be in the country for as longas possible “to share, engage and listen” as they will have dialogues over a period of time in various states, he adds.

“This is how ‘Bridges’ can be successfully developed over time to strengthen education as a basis for peace,” he says.

The line-up of speakers includes 1996 Nobel laureate for Peace and President of Timor-Leste Prof. Jose Ramos-Horta, 2003 Nobel laureate for Economics Prof. Robert Fry Engle III, 2002 Nobel Prize winner in Medicine Prof. Howard R. Horvitz, 1999 Nobel laureate for Physics Prof. Gerardus ‘t Hooft, 2006 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry Prof. Roger D. Kornberg and 2006 Nobel laureate for Physics Prof. George F. Smoot.

Other notable speakers are former German Minister of Foreign Affairs Joschka Fischer and American civil rights activist Rev Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr.

Morawetz says there are possibilities for the Nobel laureates to engage in dialogues with even political leaders.

Musa praised IFF’s efforts to be an independant mediator between science, media, political and religious sectors to promote cooperation,

“The gaps in communication are so glaring in our society today. Our political leaders are communicating at different levels from the public even though there is technology at our disposal,
“So, there is need for a facilitator for discussion between different groups in our society,” he said at the event launch last week.

Musa encourages the public to take advantage of the rare opportunity to ‘near the world-renowned experts.

“In all my years is the government. I have not seen a gathering of so messy personalities who are so recognized in their respective fields.” he says.

“This is an opportunity for Malaysians to host, welcome, listen and learn.”

In precious years, the Bridges programme, carried out together with Unesco and various universities and schools held in the Philippines and Thailand, had the participation not only Nobel laureates, but also artists end royalty such as Vanessa-Mae, Jessye Norman and Thailand’s Queen Sirikit.

Typically, the talks would not last beyond two hours and will comprise a 40-minute lecture, followed by a question-and-answer sessions for 45 minutes.

The dialogues will be held in institutions such as Open University Malaysia (OUM), Universiti Kebengsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Malaya, Universiti Tenaga Nasional, Universiti Teknologi Petronas, International Islamic University Malaysia, Multi Media University and Akademi Sains Malaysia.

The first session, entitled “Education and collaboration in fundamental science as bridges between nations”; will be in OUM on Nov17.

“We’re inviting 10 schools from around the Klang Valley as well as our students, especially post-graduate students who might be interested to do research,” says OUM corporate planning and communications general manager, Prof Ramli Bahroom, adding that the university felt privileged to be chosen as cite of the hosts.

Members of the public may attend the talks for free, thanks to sponsors such as Sims Derby, the Sultan Azlan Shah Foundation, BMW, Le Meridien, Malaysia Airlines and Petronas.

Further details can be found at