Towards a New Generation of Engaged Universities:
The Need to Act, Adapt and Transform

16th – 18thApril, 2024 | Kempinski Central Avenue (Formerly the Address Dubai Mall), Dubai, UAE

Panel Discussion:

The Role of Universities in Fostering Global Peace: A Multifaceted Approach

Chair: Nick Davis, President, Middle East & Africa, THE (Times Higher Education)

Panelists :
HE Prof. Najla Bouden Romdhane, Former Prime Minister, Tunisia
HE Dr. Rimah Saleh Al-Yahya, Member of the Saudi Shuraa Council and Former Deputy Minister for Private Higher Education, KSA
HE Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, Director General of Dubai’s Community Development Authority, UAE
Mr. Peter J. Wells, Chief, Higher Education, UNESCO

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, underscores the intrinsic link between peace, security, and sustainable development. Higher Education Institutions are key players in advancing global peace and the sustainable development agenda.

Universities possess a unique capacity to shape not only the minds of individuals but also the trajectories of entire societies. In embracing an expanded role that goes beyond traditional academic functions, universities become catalysts for societal transformation. Moreover, by actively participating in the pursuit of the SDGs, they amplify their impact, contributing substantially to the overarching goal of fostering global peace.

A multi-level and multi-stakeholder approach to peace and stability recognizes the interconnectedness of various societal actors. Universities, as hubs of knowledge and innovation, play a crucial role in this collaborative framework. Their engagement extends beyond academic spheres to involve partnerships with governments, international organizations, local communities, and other stakeholders. This collaborative synergy enhances the effectiveness of initiatives aimed at promoting peace, ensuring a more holistic and sustainable impact.

Generally, universities can play a pivotal role in fostering global peace through various means that go beyond delivering educational programs in peace and conflict studies; these encompass a diverse array of areas among which is:

  1. Advocating Diversity and Tolerance: Universities promote peace by exposing students to diverse perspectives, breaking down stereotypes, and cultivating empathy and tolerance.
  2. Developing Skills: Universities can equip students and their wider communities with the necessary skills to prevent and resolve conflicts; this includes conflict resolution skills, disseminating knowledge and awareness about human rights and international law, etc. in order to instill a culture of respect and peaceful dispute resolution.
  3. Interdisciplinary Research: Universities can place emphasis on interdisciplinary research to gain a profound understanding of the causes, nature, scope, improvement, and strategies for overcoming obstacles to peace.
  4. Promoting Peace Education Beyond Campuses: Universities extend their commitment to peace education beyond campuses, reaching the public and leaders across sectors.
  5. Strengthening Engagement with Governments: They work closely with governments to strengthen the role of universities in fostering peace and security. Provide a high-level overview about the ways in which universities can foster world peace and how it links to their purpose.

    By convening a high-level panel consisting of government representatives and experts, the aim is to achieve the following objectives:
  • Provide a comprehensive overview of universities’ pivotal role in advancing global peace, emphasizing the link to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • Examine and analyze the main causes hindering peace and contributing to conflict, offering insights into global societal challenges.
  • Share key strategies and approaches for conflict prevention and peacebuilding at both local and global levels, leveraging the unique capacity of universities to shape societal trajectories.