This post was written by Hatchet reporter Elise Zaidi.
Alumnus Ciaran Devane spoke about world crises during an event hosted by the British Council. Paige James | Hatchet Photographer
In the midst of global attacks on Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad, GW alumnus and Chief Executive of the British Council Sir Ciarán Devane spoke about his vision for saving a world at crisis during an event in Jack Morton Auditorium Monday night.
The British Council was founded in 1934 as part of a UK World War II initiative to build and maintain foreign cultural relationships. Now a worldwide cultural institution, the British Council is dedicated to spreading the positive, long-term effects specific cultural focuses have on our world, Devane said.
Here are some of Devane’s strategies on how to deal with world crises:
1. Encourage a holistic response
“How do we combine maintaining and promoting stability with providing people with hope?” Devane asked the audience.
He said too many people today claim there is only one solution that fits best in solving modern crises. For instance, some believe in military intervention, others in sanctions, others in increased cultural relations, and others in organizing governmental talks through the United Nations.
Devane said in reality “smart power is all about integration.”
2. Cultivate open communication
“The interchange of knowledge, ideas, and discoveries was the way of the world in its wiser days and should be the way of the world in the future,” Devane said.
He argued that one the of greatest things individuals can do for long-term sustainability as a global community is to “create a basis of friendly knowledge and understanding.”
Understanding previously unknown ideologies allows for new and different ideas and solutions to the current global crisis to flourish, Devane said. It can also lessen the likelihood that those in contact with extremism will feel its effects because they will have “friendly knowledge” of other cultures, he added.
“We can connect more today than ever before,” he said, noting that it’s also important to use those said connections through social media and word-of-mouth to communicate positive, open-minded messages.
3. Educate about understanding
“This is a battle of ideas, beliefs, and values. It is about education,” Devane said.
Syrian migrants not only lose their homes and livelihoods, they also lose their chance for an education, he said. An entire generation of displaced people are losing their chance to discuss the issues they face in the world, Devane added.
Devane said that anyone who is receiving an education should see their situation as an opportunity to gain understanding of opinions outside of their own.
“If we are going to change society, we ourselves have to create environments and spaces for people to hold these conversations, to learn, and to debate,” he said.