GCGI 2013 Conference- Paris: A Report and Reflection by Prof. Steve Szeghi
- Prof. Steve Szeghi
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Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) International Annual Conference Series
A Gathering of Voices on Caring for Creation
11th Annual International Conference
In association with
Common Good Forum- Paris
“Imagine the Common Good
An Intergenerational Dialogue to Inspire a Creative Leadership”
Sunday August 25 - Wednesday August 28, 2013
Conference hosted at
Cité universitaire internationale, Paris
A Report and Reflection: Steve Szeghi, Professor of Economics, Wilmington College, Ohio, USA, GCGI Senior Ambassador, Board of Advisers, and Participant
From the 25th of August until the 28th of August 2013, participants from over 20 countries, numbering about 100 people gathered at the Cite University in Paris not only to examine the crises of our times, but also to lay out a vision and a dream for the future. Participants joined with the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr, to embrace dreams of Peace, Social Justice, and Ecological Harmony. Combining the realism of the crises we face, with the idealism of vision we aspired for a better world while being fully cognoscente of the difficulties and barriers in making that dream a reality.
The same evening the conference ended, I strolled along the Seine to reflect upon the many talks and conversations of the prior few days. Both overwhelmed and rejuvenated by the intellectual intensity and diversity of the conference I was in desperate need to believe that somehow it is possible to translate dreams into reality. And there on the banks of the Seine reality invaded. I waded through thongs of people as I strolled into the last flickers of light in the evening. Huddled in mostly groups of 4 or 6, although at times 2 or even one, the people were sitting around cloth spread upon the ground drinking bottles of wine from wine glasses while nibbling upon fruits, crackers, and cheese.
A sea of humanity clustered in little groups, in carefree, hushed, almost noiseless conversation, seemed a mosaic of diversity, African, American, French, Italian, Muslim, Christian, Agnostic, Atheist, Gay, and Straight. The list of the traits of all the individuals in that sea of humanity along the Seine would be almost endless. Yet, all of these people, in that moment when the sun was setting, were enjoying life and doing no harm to the others who sat in close proximity. It was a glimpse of the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream and the dream of the GCGI.
As exemplified by so many speakers and reflected in so many conversations throughout the conference, the need for sharing, for greater equality, sustainability, and ecological harmony is manifest. Much of the world has come to a greater respect for diversity, diversity of faith, of ethnicity and nationality in the five decades since Martin Luther Kings, “I have a dream” speech. Yet a lack of tolerance based upon religion and ethnic group still remains even as the dream has evolved to include diversity of sexual identity and gender roles. The dream has also evolved to become ever more inclusive of future generations and the entire web of life. And so the question emerges, how to unlock the dream more fully.
At least one of the keys to unlocking the dream more fully is in understanding more precisely and utilizing more completely the concept of the common good. Numerous speakers throughout the conference attempted to give definition to the concept while allowing for process and evolution to reshape and remold it over time. One speaker demonstrated that the common good is essentially available to all at little or no marginal cost once it is provided to one, and that it would be extremely difficult to exclude anyone form any element of the common good. Standard economics argues in effect that therefore the common good will not be provided for by the market alone, that it takes collective action to secure and maintain.
The roles of government, along with the role of the social entrepreneur were examined by numerous speakers throughout the conference. The Youth Time Movement guided us in a thought provoking interactive exercise to reflect upon what is needed to encourage and grow social entrepreneurship. Other speakers focused on the role of young people in fomenting change and the need for society to better invest in youth particularly in their education. Numerous speakers took a penetrating look at social entrepreneurship and its relation to the common good.
Some of the speakers came from various religious faiths while others evoked a non-religious form of spirituality. All had in common their love for humanity, and a desire to make this world a better place for the current generation, future generations, as well as for other species who share this earth with us. Sharing between individuals, nations, generations, and species, was cited as another key ingredient in reshaping the global economic system in building institutions, structures, and civil society organizations which reflect the spiritual values of justice and ecology.
Also responsible for my new eyes for Paris, and with many thanks and sincere gratitude for the amazing and delightful dinner cruise, on Monday the 26th of August, along the Seine, is Platforme de Paris. We were able to enjoy a delicious meal while basking in the cultural glow of Paris at twilight. The Eiffel tower was glowing in a simultaneous display of it’s own light while reflecting the light of the setting sun. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Again, many thanks to Platforme de Paris.
Kamran Mofid, founder of the Globalization for the Common Good Initiative awarded to the School of Economic Science and Ian Mason (Principal of the School of Economic Science) the second GCGI Award for Public Service in the Interest of the Common Good. A number of speakers from the School of Economic Science also served on various panels throughout the conference. Kamran Mofid is indeed a master at bringing together a wonderful and eclectic mix of individuals who somehow blend together sharing many aspects of a common dream. As intense as this conference usually is, it is nonetheless always a bit sad when the conference is over and the time comes to say goodbye. Yet we left reinvigorated, refocused, and hopeful of the task which awaits us to accomplish. Each of us is playing a part in making the dream a reality, in our thoughts, aspirations, and in our actions, even as we search for better ways to come together in actualizing our common dreams of peace, justice, equality, and ecology for all.