Global Challenges Innovation! Welcoming the University of Southern California to Cluj

It was a great pleasure for us to welcome students and teachers from the Global Challenges Innovation program at the University of Southern California to Cluj today.

On October 11 we had the opportunity to host a ‘Peacebuliding Intensive’ and a workshop with the participants from the Global Challenges Innovation program on ‘Global Challenges, Effective Solutions’. Led by the President of PATRIR, Kai Brand-Jacobsen, participants looked at the critical challenges and crisis facing us in the world today – and on what can be done to address them. We also had a session on the dynamics and impact of the war in Ukraine and key needs for recovery, and addressing immediate and longer-term challenges for peace and security in our world.

After this, participants took part in 3 different workshops – on education and support for children and youth from Ukraine at the UA Children’s Hub in Cluj; on psychological support, mental health and addressing the human impact of the war with Anna Denysenko, Psychologist of the Ukraine House in Cluj; and an online call with the Brave to Rebuild in Ukraine looking at what is being done now and future needs for rebuilding and recovery in Ukraine.

At the end of the day participants have spent the last hours with children and youth from Ukraine at the UA Children’s Hub.

Thank you to everyone involved for making this day a tremendous success. It is powerful and inspiring to see people coming together in Cluj – Kolozsvár – Klausenburg as an international city of peace, building ties, connecting and engaging together to work on real solutions to the critical issues of war and other global challenges.

Some key take-aways:

  • while we face growing and significant challenges in our world today, we have more scientific, social, cultural knowledge and creativity than we have ever had before in human history. We have the capacity to meet these challenges, and to address the underlying issues and drivers causing them, but we need to build upon this incredible capacity as a species and transform how we find solutions to critical issues and challenges;
  • war and violence are effectively bankrupt. While they can destroy nations and countries and rip people’s lives apart, they cannot bring solutions to any of the real and critical challenges we face as humanity. We have an opportunity and a need to draw upon our capacity and brilliance as a species to find actual, real solutions to conflicts – and to addressing their root cause and healing from the visible and invisible impacts of war and violence on people’s lives and societies, and stop horrific and destructive cycles of violence;
  • peacebuilding and finding effective solutions to conflicts can be taught, and can be done. It is practical, hands-on and realistic, and it works – but we need to invest in it, do it, build it, train people, and wage peace to overcome the destructive legacies and brutal failure of war

Today, students, faculty and practitioners from across the United States enrolled in the Global Challenges Innovation program met with students and faculty from Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, the Department of Peace Operations of the Romanian Peace Institute – PATRIR, and PATRIR teams at the UA Children’s Hub, Ukraine House, and our partners in Brave to Rebuild. Our conversations and work together remind us to “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” (Quote from Margaret Mead).

Thank you to the University of Southern California, Babes-Bolyai University, and all of our partners, and wishing the students of the Global Challenges Innovation continuing success, dedication and courage, to be the change they want to see in the world!

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