The Durban University of Technology (DUT) hosted a successful Commonwealth Futures workshop at the Hotel School recently. Titled, ‘Reimaging Peace’, the workshop explored themes of violence and non-violence across different cultural contexts. The workshop was a third in the Commonwealth Futures workshop series. organised in partnership with The Association of Commonwealth Universities [ACU], British Council, and the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The workshop welcomed 30 student leaders from universities in 13 Commonwealth Countries for an interactive, four-day workshop looking at the role of student leaders in building peaceful, cohesive societies. The students who participated are change-makers from across the Commonwealth – each with an invested interest in driving positive social change in their communities and beyond. Each student was nominated by their institution, all ACU members, for exhibiting leadership potential – from campaigning to volunteering, social entrepreneurship, and more.
The main purpose of the workshop was to create a platform where students can draw on the different experiences and contexts of local activists and analysts in the fields of gender, politics, and the environment, and other students from different parts of the world. The students then develop skills in working together in ways that build peace and nonviolence, while they think through key challenges faced in the world. On the final day, students gave a collective presentation on key issues causing social division – tackling topics such as gender-based violence, inequality in higher education, and economic inequality.
Solutions that students explored included equipping universities with a toolkit to respond to reported cases of gender-based violence on campus, including a smartphone with anonymous reporting; supporting economic and racial integration in neighbourhoods to address social division; advocating a holistic approach to gender-based violence which includes both men and women, and harnessing social media to challenge perspectives surrounding gender bias.
The success of this workshop was attributed to the support from the DVC: Research Innovation and Engagement office, the International Centre for Non-violence (ICON), the Gandhi Trust, the Division of the Corporate Affairs, Audio-Visual, Peace Programme, Community Engagement Practitioner – Phumzile Xulu, and the staff from the Hotel School. Six masters students from DUT assisted with the logistics and support on the days of workshops. The office of the International and Governance Relations under the leadership of Eric Apelgren from the eThekwini Municipality hosted the opening dinner for the workshop delegates at The Aquarium, uShaka Marine on behalf of the Mayor.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor for the Research Innovation and Engagement, Professor Moyo, said that DUT was delighted and honoured to host the first Commonwealth Futures Workshop (CFW) on “Reimaging Peace”. She added that DUT has a long-established relationship with the Gandhi Development Trust, established in 2002, through Ela Ghandi, DUT former Chancellor, and also hosts the International Centre for Peace and Nonviolence which runs a peacebuilding programme through DUT’s Management Sciences Faculty.
“As a University, we are well-positioned to host this workshop due to the work being done both nationally and internationally in this area,” she said during her opening address on day one of the workshops.
Professor Moyo also acknowledged all the DUT partners who made the experience of the CFW workshop participants a success. She also welcomed the partnership and collaboration with the British Council, the ACU, and Commonwealth Secretariat, and looked forward to future collaborative initiatives where DUT could play a role. “With the breakout of Covid-19, there will be an additional burden of disease especially in the African context and as youth, there should be a continuous search for possible solutions to solve societal challenges and efforts to resolve conflict peacefully as well as embracing cultural diversity,” she said.
Read more about the Commonwealth Futures Workshop series on the ACU web page via this link: https://www.acu.ac.uk/news/commonwealth-futures-reimagining-peace/
Photo: Workshop delegates with support staff and students.