Global Peace through the Global University System

(Book Review, August 9, 2006)

 

Reviewer:

Joanne K. Kumekawa, MBA
Director, Kingston eHealth
First Light Initiative
1260 21st Street
Washington, DC 20036
202.607.8333
Fax: 240.209.0784
jkumekawa@hotmail.com

 

Textbook Details:

Global Peace through the Global University System

Tapio Varis, Takeshi Utsumi, and William Klemm

2003, GUS and Research Centre for Vocational Education

Hameenlinna, Finland

ISBN 951-44-5695-5

517 Pages

 

 

This book is actually a compendium of speeches and essays that provide a vision and possible “next steps” in creating a Global University System (GUS) whose purpose is to educate those involved in global peacemaking. GUS has completed the initial stages of researching the technology, programming, partnership and management models for its global system.

 

The online book is divided into four parts. Part I includes speeches from high-level contributors from the United Nations and other national leaders who offer an overarching vision for the future, in which information and communications technology can impact globalization, education and culture. They broadly paint the shift from an industrial society to a knowledge-based society that promises life long learning for the masses without regard to socio-economic status, geographic location as well as a vision for greater multiculturalism, the new workplace, and broader access to health, education and training.

 

Parts II and III focus more specifically on the mission, structure and function of the Global University System and elaborates on its vision of peace through global-scale education, by using technology to interconnect and foster mutual understanding among nations, cultures, ethnic groups, and religions. Contributors to these sections offer a wide range of opinions on how technology can change the way people interact and collaborate with one another, how they think and learn. Some like the UK Open University offer practical advice based on experience in developing and expanding its distance-learning program in partnership with 50 other open universities in a number of different countries.

 

The GUS concept is unique not only for its global scale ambition but also for its innovative approach to peace making. GUS takes the long view to peace making by focusing on Multicultural Collaboration, Peace Education and a Culture of Peace that is not limited to negotiation, mediation, education and training or other conventional approaches. Instead GUS founders and other authors in Part II and III point to the need for discussions about moral values and the promotion of “right” behavior on a global scale. Thus the “Global University System (GUS) is adopting philosophies and principles that emphasize trans-cultural and moral values rather than ideologies” (Utsumi, et al., 2001).

 

Shared trans-cultural and moral values serve in turn as the basis for a Culture of Peace. A number of articles in Part II discuss this concept from different perspectives. One article provides ancient historic examples of shifts towards multicultural collaboration, facilitated by technology in the Middle East. Another highlights the philosophy of peace education development at the individual, family community, national and international setting. In an article about learning in agro-pastoral Africa, the author emphasizes the importance of life long learning and raises the question about reaching even nomadic indigenous peoples, using technology.

 

These articles also suggest that to foster multicultural collaboration, life long learning and peace education on a global scale, a global communications network should be created, using broadband satellite wireless technology, the Internet, and Information and other Communication Technology (ICT) modalities, which can be deployed on a wide scale to reach even remote areas or indigenous populations that could be linked to a network of knowledge centers.

 

Part III and IV include a number of articles that describe in greater depth the technology that could be used in building out a global networked communications system. Articles provide an introduction to trends in broadband wireless satellite communications, fiber and wireless terrestrial communications and the advantages of asynchronous telecommunications in distance education.

 

Part IV also looks more closely at some practical applications for such a global networked technology including academic research, global education, E-University Administration, sustainable community development and E-health and Telemedicine. The contributors to the E-Health and Telemedicine articles discuss a range of pilot projects such as Vi@Salud of Venezuela and Virtual Reality Environments for experiential learning. Generally speaking Telemedicine is the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to provide clinical care at a distance whereas E-Health is considered a broader concept and can include informatics, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration as well Telemedicine.

 

Vi@Salud is being developed as a pilot with the School of Medicine in Venezuela, which would initially use a combination of Print, Television, Internet, and prerecorded programming to reach health providers. A student would first watch programming on television and then go to the Web for study guides, tests, and links to virtual medical libraries etc.

 

Conclusion

This book presents a challenging vision of achieving world peace through global peace education and provides a solid introduction to the Global University System. The book not only highlights GUS’ focus on peace education and the importance of shared trans-cultural and moral values as a way to global peace but also provides examples of Universities that already offer distance education on a large scale as well as the technology, the philosophy and the practical applications that underpin its global peace education system. Given the scope of the book, contributors to the book are drawn from a wide range of backgrounds, not just education, and offer an interesting glimpse into new ways of developing and promoting peace and a culture of peace.

 

Although several authors discuss the concept of multicultural collaboration and “collaboratories,” using information and communication technology on a global scale, no author discusses a practical application for telemedicine that might bring people together to work on issues such as AIDS, SARS and other infectious diseases that are borderless and require a coordinated effort and cooperation between and among nations to respond. Especially since these infectious diseases can mutate rapidly, managing these diseases will require sharing of knowledge and innovations as well as ongoing training and education for health care providers. Up-to-date information is critical for epidemiologists and using a global communications network may be the most efficient and cost effective way of meeting this health challenge.

 

Billions may be spent on AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases in the coming years but if the money is spent on different projects that are separate and not connected, there will be fewer opportunities to collaborate in real time and to learn from each success, failure and innovation. When there is greater connection, communication and multicultural collaboration among these so-called silo projects, there is the possibility that innovation developed by one project can be replicated and improved upon by another project and then extended exponentially throughout a network of cooperating projects. Although this reviewer is not familiar with the current level of cooperation among nations as it relates to tracking infectious disease, it is interesting to note that even as the United States and Israel have withdrawn aid to Palestine during the latest conflicts, Israel continues to support aid to Palestine to control Avian flu.

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Secretariat, Emerging GLOBAL UNIVERSITY SYSTEM (GUS) CONSORTIUM

Chairman: Takeshi Utsumi, Ph.D.; Vice Chairman: Louis Padulo, Ph.D.;

Board Members: David Johnson, Ph.D., Peter Knight, Ph.D., Joseph Pelton, Ph.D., Tapio Varis, Ph.D.;

Secretary: Ben Haraguchi, J.D.; Treasurer: Hisae Utsumi