Group photos from GCGI Conferences
"The Value of Values to Build a World for the Common Good"
Prof. Kamran Mofid*
Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI)
World Congress of Faiths
Annual General Meeting
LondonSchool of Economics, University of London
The Alumni Theatre, New AcademicBuilding (NAB)
Wednesday 20 May 2015
Photo: Albert Ceolan, Bountiful Earth
Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today, and for giving me the opportunity to share with you my journey for the common good, a journey which I began many years ago, when as a young man I left Iran for England in 1972 in my search for life’s bigger picture.
Friends, I very much like to set the scene by reading a short statement, giving you a brief background to my presentation, my abstract, if you will:
This presentation is dedicated to the youth of the world, our children and grand- children, who are the unfolding story of the decades ahead. May they rise to the challenge of leading our troubled world, with hope and wisdom in the interest of the common good to a better future
Our country, the United Kingdom, like all nations of the world, despite many good works, deeds and actions by so many individuals, organisations, civil societies and more, is facing a number of major socio-economic, political, ecological, moral, ethical and spiritual crises.
However, I wish to argue that:
Our crises can only be addressed, reversed and resolved, and our goals can only be achieved, if we change direction, adopt new values and become concerned with life’s bigger questions. We must reconnect ourselves with nature and with our true human and spiritual values. Moreover, as members of the household of humanity, we must provide security, sanctuary and constructive engagement for all of our human family. Sustained by the bounty of all, called by the Sacred, and animated into action by the Spirit of peace, Justice, and Reverence for All Life, we must be guided by values and take action in the interest of the common good, empowering each other to build a better world, for all of us.
And Now I want us to come together and imagine a better world, a world for the common good:
Imagine a political system that puts the public first. Imagine the economy and markets serving people rather than the other way round. Imagine us placing values of respect, fairness, interdependence, and mutuality at the heart of our economy. Imagine an economy that gives everyone their fair share, at least an appropriate living wage, and no zero-hour contracts. Imagine where jobs are accessible and fulfilling, producing useful things rather than games of speculation and casino capitalism. Imagine where wages support lives rather than an ever expanding chasm between the top 1% and the rest. Imagine a society capable of supporting everyone’s needs, and which says no to greed. Imagine unrestricted access to an excellent education, healthcare, housing and social services. Imagine hunger being eliminated, no more food banks and soup kitchens. Imagine each person having a place he/she can call home. Imagine all senior citizens living a dignified and secure life. Imagine all the youth leading their lives with ever-present hope for a better world. Imagine a planet protected from the threat of climate change now and for the generations to come. Imagine no more wars, but dialogue, conversation and non-violent resolution of conflicts.
This is the country and the world I wish to see and I believe we have the means to build it, if we take action in the interest of the common good.
Now let me, before saying anything else, continue my statement by reading you a few inspiring quotes to focus our minds, enabling us to proceed more fruitfully; more rewarding:
“He that seeks the good of the many seeks in consequence his own good.” St. Thomas Aquinas
"What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good." Aristotle
'UBUNTU': "I am because we are.”
“A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.” Buddha
‘We have to build a better man before we can build a better society.’-Paul Tillich
“Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value” Albert Einstein
“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”-John Wesley
'The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion’-Thomas Paine
Where is the Common Good When You Need It?
£120,000 bottle of Chateau Margeaux, £3,000 Wagyu steak, £13,500 for New Year’s Dinner, £5,000 glass of 1811 Napoleon Grande Reserve cognac, £1000 burgers, £1800 Wagyu ribeye steak, £1,700 diamond-studded sushi, £600 cupcakes, £325 cup of Sumatran coffee brewed from berries excreted by a weasel-like creature called a civet, truffles for £2000 per kilo, £2000 Michelin-starred in-flight meals at 30,000ft, whilst drinking £15,000 bottles of 1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti : all for the 1%, whilst billions of people live in abject poverty on less than $2 a day
The Common Good: What do I mean by the Common Good?
Now let me say a few words about what I mean by the common good. By the "common good" I'm referring to a broad evolution beyond values and actions that serve narrow self-interest, and towards those guided by inclusiveness, supporting well-being, happiness, dignity, economic prospeity and success, security, human rights and stewardship of resources for the benefit of all, rather than just for some, as it currently is.
The principle of the common good reminds us that we are all responsible for each other – we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers – and must work for social conditions which ensure that every person and every group in society is able to meet their needs and realise their potential. It follows that every group in society must take into account the rights and aspirations of other groups, and the well-being of the whole human family.
Friends, ladies and gentlemen, the future is full of risk and perils for our planet and all peoples. If we are to survive we must surely build cultures of peace, justice, kindness, sympathy, empathy, and trust, and we must walk together to face the future. The journey, for sure, will be much more secure and fruitful if we begin to walk the walk together for the common good.
Central to this task is the urgent need to reflect on two pertinent and timely questions:
1- Why are we here? (That is, the world of crisis after crisis)
2- How can we get there? (That is, the better world we all wish to see)
In order to look at these two questions and possibly be able to offer some answers, we need to ask two further questions first:
1- What are the values that have taken us to here?
2- What might be the values that could take us to there?
This, in a nut shell, is the gist and the essence of my talk tonight
Sharing the Wisdom of Others: I am only the Messaganger
I wish you to note that this presentation, harvesting the fruits of contemplation, is offered as a contribution to the public conversation about values and the shaping of the social ethos in which we live: Our moral compass, if you will. My perspective comes from two broad sources: (1) from over sixty years of living in a globalised, diversified communities, in different countries and continents, in the midst of a diverse group of people, from various cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds; and (2) from thinkers- past and present- who were/are open, fresh and responsive to the human spirit, reflecting deeply on the individual and society. It is fair to say that, their impact on me has been profound. Their wisdom has nourished and nurtured my personal and professional development. For that I am for ever grateful to them.
My Presentation, I hope, is easy to follow- I am a story teller:
Moreover, I will present my thoughts in an easy-to-follow manner and I see myself as a story-teller in a heart-to-heart dialogue and conversation with you; nothing less, nothing more.
Today, our global family is facing a multitude of enduring and potentially catastrophic crises. For me, the answers lie in simplicity. There is no need to complicate matters further. After all, in the wise words of Leonardo da Vinci, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
What are my educational/teaching ethos& values?
Before saying more, let me share with you the philosophy, the vision and values which underpin my thinking and have guided me in offering this suggested path for the common good. Here I am most humbly inspired by Lao Tzu,a mystic philosopher of ancient China, considered the founder of Taoism. He said:
Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.
I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
You reconcile all beings in the world.
Where does my economic thinking come from? Who inspires me to say what I say? My economic guru is the real Adam Smith, not the false one taught at universities the world over. Let me explain:
As many observers, including some honest economists themselves have noted, the economics profession was arguably the first casualty of the 2008-2009 global financial crises. After all, its practitioners failed to anticipate the calamity, and many appeared unable to say anything useful when the time came to formulate a response.
Mainstream economic models were discredited by the crises because they simply did not admit of its possibility. Moreover, training that prioritised technique over intuition and theoretical elegance over real-world relevance did not prepare economists to provide the kind of practical policy advice needed in exceptional circumstances.
Some argue that the solution is to return to the simpler economic models of the past, which yielded policy prescriptions that evidently sufficed to prevent comparable crises. Others insist that, on the contrary, effective policies today require increasingly complex models that can more fully capture the chaotic dynamics of the twenty-first-century economy.
Why this debate misses the key point. Because, it was not, and it is not, about the models to begin with. It is all about what economics was and what it has become. It is all about the missing values in the so-called modern economics.
As a “Recovered” economist, who has seen the “Light” and hopefully is now wiser than before, I believe I can shed some light on this matter.
These days I am inspired by the “Real” and “True” Adam Smith, known the world over as the Father of New Economics. We should recall the wisdom of Adam Smith, who was a great moral philosopher first and foremost. In 1759, sixteen years before his famous Wealth of Nations, he published The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which explored the self-interested nature of man and his ability nevertheless to make moral decisions based on factors other than selfishness. In The Wealth of Nations, Smith laid the early groundwork for economic analysis, but he embedded it in a broader discussion of social justice and the role of government. Today we mainly know only of his analogy of the ‘invisible hand’ and refer to him as defending free markets; whilst ignoring his insight that the pursuit of wealth should not take precedence over social and moral obligations.
We are taught that the free market as a ‘way of life’ appealed to Adam Smith but not that he thought the morality of the market could not be a substitute for the morality for society at large. He neither envisioned nor prescribed a capitalist society, but rather a ‘capitalist economy within society, a society held together by communities of non-capitalist and non-market morality’. As it has been noted, morality for Smith included neighbourly love, an obligation to practice justice, a norm of financial support for the government ‘in proportion to [one’s] revenue’, and a tendency in human nature to derive pleasure from the good fortune and happiness of other people.
He observed that lasting happiness is found in tranquillity as opposed to consumption. In their quest for more consumption, people have forgotten about the three virtues Smith observed that best provide for a tranquil lifestyle and overall social well-being: justice, beneficence ( and prudence ( .
I am only very sorry that, no one taught me these when I was a student of economics, and then, I did not tell the truth about Adam Smith to my students when I became an economics lecturer; something that I very much regret and something that am trying hard to rectify, now that I am a “Recovering and Repenting” economist for the common good. At the end of the day, it is our honesty, humility and our struggle to seek the truth that will set us free and allow us to hold our head high.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, why am I saying all these?
Because tonight I am delivering this lecture, at LSE, a prestigious, learned centre for the study of economics. I salute many great economists, past and present at LSE. I acknowledge their contribution to a better understanding of this subject, and for their contributions to build a better world. Equally, I salute many students, past and present, which have, and still wish, to change the world for the better.
Having said and acknowledged the above, there are two points that I wish to share with you, as they are important to the core of my presentation: namely, if we wish to build a world for the common good, then, we need to direct the teaching of economics towards the common good too.
1- Let my quote you the first paragraph of a letter I wrote to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 27th November 2008, regarding her question at London School of Economics, when she asked: “Why did nobody notice?”
“I note, with much interest, Your Majesty’s recent visit to the London School of Economics. Given the current financial calamity, Your Majesty asked a very pertinent and important question: “Why did nobody notice?”
I firmly believe that the director of research and his colleagues present there, should have provided Your Majesty with truthful and honest answers. However, given what I have read in the press, I do not believe this was the case. Their failure to do so, clearly goes a long way to prove the detachment of economists and the modern neo-liberal economics from the real world. They have turned our profession and subject into a comedy of errors, a dismal science of irrelevance.
This is very sad indeed Your Majesty. An entire profession now appears to have suffered a collapse. Trust and confidence in my profession has all but been demolished, the “dismal science” at its worst.
Many mistakes have been made. Many economists have compromised themselves and their profession by remaining silent, not criticising the extremism and the neo-liberal fundamentalism present in their profession. Lessons should be learnt, someone should be held accountable. Otherwise the same mistakes will be repeated and nobody will believe what an economist says again. In other words, Your Majesty deserves a proper and honest answer…”
And then years later the same concerns were highlighted in an editorial in the Financial Times
Given my observation above, it is very telling and humbling to me to note the Financial Times editorial of November 12, 2013 addressing the same issues as I had made many years before. Let me read to you a couple of key and relevant paragraphs:
‘The failure of the dismal science to predict and explain the worst financial crash since the Depression has understandably prompted some reflection among the more thoughtful ranks of academics.
‘The case for new thinking is strong. Economics teaching – even to first-year undergraduates – had before the crisis become too wedded to scientific pretension. Excessive faith was invested in abstract mathematical models, while insufficient effort was made to link these to real-life experience. The absence of topicality not only robbed the subject of interest and excitement, it risked not equipping the student with the skills to grapple with everyday problems.
‘There are stirrings in the academic gloaming. The failure to predict the crash not only unsettled Queen Elizabeth II – who famously gathered some economists together to ask them how they had missed it. There has been some soul-searching among academics too.
‘There is a recognition that disciplines such as psychology, history and finance need to be more firmly embedded in economics teaching. The route to publication in top journals should involve empirical research, not just the firing up of an Excel spreadsheet.
‘But, as the crisis showed, we should be humble about the limits of our knowledge. Substituting a little humility for pretension would be a welcome step.’
Well said Financial Times. But!
However, what a great pity that to the best of my knowledge, influential publications, such as the Financial Times, had not written an editorial in similar vein before the crash of September 2008. I believe our world would have been a better place for it if they had.
For example, perhaps people like the Director of the London School of Economics and his colleagues at the department of economics would have behaved differently, and would have acted with wisdom, courage, and commitment to the common good.
This brings me to point number 2, I had mentioned above: Lord Kalms’ letter to the Times (08/03/2011):
Sir, Around 1991 I offered the London School of Economics a grant of £1 million to set up a Chair in Business Ethics. John Ashworth, at that time the Director of the LSE, encouraged the idea but had to write to me to say, regretfully, that the faculty had rejected the offer as it saw no correlation between ethics and economics. Quite. Lord Kalms, House of Lords
Thus, ladies and gentlemen, by now it must be clear that, given the state of our world today- a world of progress and poverty- the continuing and deepening global economic turmoil merely is a symptom of a much larger moral, spiritual and ethical crisis. In short, the world is facing a crisis of values; a crisis of trust.
Nobody trusts anybody or anything. Why? What has gone wrong?
Today, in many parts of the world, the so-called “free” market, the consumerist culture, and “Black Friday” sales, have become increasingly dominant, and are now seriously threatening our global future, both in terms of our care of the planet and in increasing societal rivalry and conflict.
In the process we have lost trust in everything: politics, economics, politicians, business, CEOs, governments, the media, and dare I say, even the religions. This is why I believe in the global society in which we all now live, it is vital for our common survival and well-being that we build cultures of trust, being prepared to take risk for the common good.
What is trust?
Trust surely comes from the experience of a relationship - an in-depth experience - which by its nature is rooted in values that are not necessarily economic or monetary.
At the basis of such trust is an understanding that, in spite of our differences, we have our humanity in common. Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks of “that African thing, Ubuntu” – the notion that a person is only a person through other persons. A person with “Ubuntu” is open and available to others, all others, for we are incomplete without each other. Ubuntu echoes the insight of John Donne that “No man is an island ….. I am involved in mankind”, and that was in the seventeenth century.
Let us now pause for a moment and think about the following questions: Time to focus on life’s bigger picture
Today’s world, it seems, has become a world of continuing and deepening crises. Wisdom, must surely compel us to ask: Why?
Is it lack of money or resources? Or Lack of technology and IT? Or Lack of people holding PhDs and MBAs? Or lack of goals set by this organisation or that? No. What we lack is moral and spiritual imagination and compass. We lack wisdom and choose wrong, harmful, and worthless ways.
As I have said before, our crises can only be addressed, reversed and resolved, and our goals can only be achieved, if we change direction, adopt new values and become concerned with life’s bigger picture. If we want to realise anything good in life, including any goals we may set ourselves, we must begin, first and foremost, by focusing on some fundamental and enduring questions of human meaning and value. Questions such as:
1. What does it mean to be human?
2. What does it mean to live a life of meaning and purpose?
3. What does it mean to understand and appreciate the natural world?
4. What does it mean to forge a more just society for the common good?
By their very nature, these questions involve thought and discussion around spirituality, ethics, morals and values.
This means that our lives are connected not only to knowledge, power and money, but also to faith, love and wisdom. Unless the questions we ask encompass the full spectrum of these emotions and experiences, we’re unlikely to find the answers we are looking for, or to understand them in any depth, let alone solving problems and attaining goals.
The bitter harvest that neo-liberalism has brought us all is the result of its ignorance and inability to accept that our life journey is not all about economics, money and finance. We should acknowledge that our crises are not economic only, but spiritual.
This is why I firmly believe that we must begin by discussing values and to highlight why they matter.
How can we become agents of change for the common good? How can we spark a new public conversation framed around human dignity and the common good?
In seeking to answer these and other relevant pertinent questions, and to understand the world better, we need to discover the world not just as it is, but also how it ought to be. Indeed, the deepest and most difficult questions with which we wrestle are problems of value — right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, just and unjust, worthy or unworthy, dignified or abhorrent, love or hatred, cooperation or competition, selflessness or selfishness, progress and poverty, profit and loss.
Human beings have explored these many questions of value through religion, philosophy, the creation of art and literature, and more. Indeed, questions of value have inaugurated many disciplines within the humanities and continue to drive them today. Questions and conversations about values and valuing are fundamental to what it means to be human, but rarely become the subject of explicit public reflection.
The current economic model - employed by all political parties who have governed our country since the late 1970s - has brought us a very bitter harvest. This bitter harvest is the result of the quintessential ignorance and narrowness of these models and their utter inability to accept that our life journey is not merely about economics, money and finance; but, to an even greater degree, are deeply spiritual.
In all, my friends, ladies and gentlemen, in my view, the task for and being for the common good has never been more urgent and more needed. That task is of influencing and working for change in the moral fabric of society itself – for the common good we might say: And also accepting that each of us, have a life-long responsibility and mission to that end.
Values to Build a Better World
As it has been observed throughout history, in action and thought, people are affected by a wide range of influences. Past experience, cultural and social norms are some of the most important ones. Connected to all of these, to some extent, are our values, which represent a strong guiding force, shaping our attitudes and behaviour over the course of our lives. Our values have been shown to influence our political persuasions; our willingness to participate in political action; our career choices; our ecological footprints; how much money we spend, and on what; and our feelings of personal well-being, contentment and happiness; as well as our relationship with others, with nature and Mother Earth, to mention but a few.
We in the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) have developed a model of what it would look like to put values such as love, generosity and caring for the common good into socio-political and economic practice, suggesting possibilities for healing and transforming our world.
To focus our minds, assisting us to see the big picture, I very much wish to offer for consideration and reflection the values of the GCGI, which we hold very dearly.
I firmly believe that if these or similar values are adopted by all the stakeholders, and then seriously adhered to afterwards, then the attainment of these goals becomes much more possible.
We value caring and kindness
We value passion and positive energy
We value service and volunteerism
We value simplicity and humility
We value trust, openness, and transparency
We value values-led education
We value harmony with nature
We value non-violent conflict resolution
We value interfaith, inter-civilisational and inter-generational dialogue
We value teamwork and collaboration
We value challenge and excellence
We value fun and play
We value curiosity and innovation
We value health and wellbeing
We value a sense of adventure
We value people, communities and cultures
We value friendship, cooperation and responsibility
Having noted some possible values needed to build a better world, I now wish to suggest a few possible practical steps to a better world.
Not let me share with you a few practical steps, guiding our path towards a world for the common good, that if adopted can lead us to construct the better world I had invited you to imagine at the beginning of my lecture:
Conclusion: Co-creating “The Future We Want” in the Interest of the Common Good
The future is indeed fraught with environmental, socio-economic, political, and security risks that could derail the progress towards the building of “The Future We Want”. However, although these serious challenges are confronting us, we can, if we are serious and sincere enough, overcome them by taking risks in the interest of the common good.
One thing is clear: the main problem we face today is not the absence of technical or economic solutions, but rather the presence of moral and spiritual crises. This requires us to build broad global consensus on a vision that places values such as love, generosity and caring for the common good into socio-political and economic practice, suggesting possibilities for healing and transforming our world.
Finally, I wish to invite you all to rise to the global challenges and uncertainties. Many campaigners for a better world, wishing to serve and to promote the common good, often face an uphill battle every day.
But, we must remain positive, we must remain hopeful. We will build the World for the Common Good. Believe me, we will.
This evening, here in London, at London School of Economics, we formed a community of committed and passionate gardeners, sowing seeds of sustainability, peace, justice and global friendship for the common good. In the wonderful and wise words of Rumi:
Tender words we spoke
to one another
in the secret vaults of heaven.
One day like rain,
they will fall to earth
and grow green
all over the world.
Thank you friends
Where are the Business Schools for the Common Good When We Need One?
It is very telling that as I was delivering my lecture, the breaking news was that despite what has happened before and since the financial crash of 2008, the banks have been continuing and deepening their corrupt activities, in order to inflate their profits and thus, increase their bonuses significantly, jeopardising the global economy and endangering the livelihood and well-being of billions of people. This time the culprits were engaged in rigging the $5.3trn-a-day foreign exchange market. "If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying,” one Barclays’ trader is noted to have said.
It would be an act of justice for the common good, if, somehow, we can discover how many of these traders and their bosses, their friends and supporters in the industry and elsewhere have PhDs and MBAs from the so-called "prestigious" universities and business schools. Perhaps this can be a good exercise for papers such as The Times, Financial Times, Economist, Forbes and others when they rank their top MBAs for next year! Please give up ranking their graduates on how much 'dosh' they make, but what they do for the common good, what they do to make the world a better place. Please!
Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI): Where we connect our intellect with our humanity
To understand, appreciate, and face the challenges of the contemporary world requires us to focus on life’s big picture. Whether it is war and peace, economics and the environment, justice and injustice, love and hatred, cooperation and competition, common good and selfishness, science and technology, progress and poverty, profit and loss, food and population, energy and water, disease and health, education and family, we need the big picture in order to understand and solve the many pressing problems, large and small, regional or global.
The “Big Picture” is also the context in which we can most productively explore the big perennial questions of life - purpose and meaning, virtues and values.
In order to focus on life’s bigger picture and guided by the principles of hard work, commitment, volunteerism and service; with a great passion for dialogue of cultures, civilisations, religions, ideas and visions, at an international conference in Oxford in 2002 the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) and the GCGI Annual International Conference Series were founded.
We recognise that our socio-economic problems are closely linked to our spiritual problems and vice versa. Moreover, socio-economic justice, peace and harmony will come about only when the essential connection between the spiritual and practical aspects of life is valued. Necessary for this journey is to discover, promote and live for the common good. The principle of the common good reminds us that we are all really responsible for each other – we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers – and must work for social conditions which ensure that every person and every group in society is able to meet their needs and realize their potential. It follows that every group in society must take into account the rights and aspirations of other groups, and the well-being of the whole human family.
One of the greatest challenges of our time is to apply the ideas of the global common good to practical problems and forge common solutions. Translating the contentions of philosophers, spiritual and religious scholars and leaders into agreement between policymakers and nations is the task of statesmen and citizens, a challenge to which Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) adheres. The purpose is not simply talking about the common good, or simply to have a dialogue, but the purpose is to take action, to make the common good and dialogue work for all of us, benefiting us all.
What the GCGI seeks to offer - through its scholarly and research programme, as well as its outreach and dialogue projects - is a vision that positions the quest for economic and social justice, peace and ecological sustainability within the framework of a spiritual consciousness and a practice of open-heartedness, generosity and caring for others. All are thus encouraged by this vision and consciousness to serve the common good.
The GCGI has from the very beginning invited us to move beyond the struggle and confusion of a preoccupied economic and materialistic life to a meaningful and purposeful life of hope and joy, gratitude, compassion, and service for the good of all.
Perhaps our greatest accomplishment has been our ability to bring Globalisation for the Common Good into the common vocabulary and awareness of a greater population along with initiating the necessary discussion as to its meaning and potential in our personal and collective lives.
In short, at Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative we are grateful to be contributing to that vision of a better world, given the goals and objectives that we have been championing since 2002. For that we are most grateful to all our friends and supporters that have made this possible.
GCGI- Annual Conference Series
Plater College, Oxford (2002)- St. Petersburg, Russia (2003)- Dubai, UAE (2004)- Nairobi and Kericho, Kenya(2005)- Chaminade University, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA (2006)-Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey (2007)- Trinity College, University of Melbourne, Australia (2008)- Loyola University, Chicago, USA (2009)- California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, California, USA (2010)- Alexandria Bibliotheca, Alexandria, Egypt (2011—Postponed, due to the Revolution in Egypt)- School of Economic Science, Oxford Campus, Waterperry House, Oxford, UK (2012), Cité universitaire internationale, Paris, France (2013), and School of Economic Science, Oxford Campus, Waterperry House, Oxford, UK (2014)
The Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative Annual Conference Series have ranged far across the world through Oxford, Saint Petersburg- Russia- Dubai- UAE- Nairobi/Kericho- Kenya- Honolulu-USA- Istanbul- Turkey- Melbourne- Australia- Chicago- USA- Thousand Oaks, California-USA- Oxford- and Paris, France. The GCGI conferences have created and continue to create an ever-widening international community of speakers and participants, forging links and establishing dialogues across national, cultural, and religious/spiritual boundaries, and putting into practice the movement’s core philosophy: that globalisation need not be defined merely in terms of impersonal market forces, but can be a power for good, building spiritual bonds that can unite humanity and bring different cultures, faiths and peoples closer together.
These multi/inter-disciplinary conferences- each locally organised and funded, most often by regional organisations working in tandem with a university/think-tank/civil society in cooperation with GCGI- have been lively and productive affairs, in which many national, regional and international participants have come together for intense discussions on a spiritual and value-centered vision of globalisation and the common good.
GCGI Annual Conference Series is now recognised as an initiative that has succeeded in establishing a large, vigorous, interdisciplinary, inter-faith, inter-civilisational, inter-cultural and spiritual team of researchers to focus on issues of globalisation, the common good and other related subjects. The expertise of those who have supported the GCGI includes economics, business studies, political science, media studies and journalism, international relations, history, philosophy, sociology, social anthropology, psychology, medicine, geography, environmental studies, mathematics, physics, chemistry, IT, education, development studies, peace and conflict resolution, law, ethics and theology, amongst others.
*Prof. Kamran Mofid is Founder of the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI- founded at an international conference in Oxford in 2002), Co-founder/Editor, GCGI Journal, which is hosted at Wilmington College, Ohio, USA, a Patron of the Human Values Foundation, a board member of Spiritual Heritage Education Network (SHEN), a member of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) of the World Public Forum, Dialogue of Civilisations, a Founding member of World Dignity University, and a TFF Associate. Mofid received his BA and MA in economics from the University of Windsor, Canada in 1980 and 1982 respectively. In 1986 he was awarded his doctorate in economics from the University of Birmingham, UK. In 2001 he received a Certificate in Education in Pastoral Studies at PlaterCollege, Oxford. Mofid's work is highly interdisciplinary, drawing on Economics, Business, Politics, International Relations, Theology, Culture, Ecology, Ethics and Spirituality. Mofid's writings have appeared in leading scholarly journals, popular magazines and newspapers. His books include Development Planning in Iran: From Monarchy to Islamic Republic , The Economic Consequences of the Gulf war, Globalisation for the Common Good, Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility and Globalisation for the Common Good , Promoting the Common Good (with Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke, 2005), and A non-Violent Path to Conflict Resolution and Peace Building (Co-authored, 2008)
Youth Mental Health Matters:
There are 1.2 Billion Youth Aged 15-24 Years in the World
"Youth and Mental Health": The shocking statistic is that 1 in 5 young people suffer from mental illness. Many more suffer from mild depression and loneliness. This is a plea to all youth workers, social/health-care workers, academics, teachers, the youth themselves, parents, schools, colleges, universities, civil societies dealing with youth, politicians, media, business community, religious and spiritual leaders, all the people of good will: Make 2015 a year where you purposefully ensure that a permanent, safe, creative space is made available for all young people to speak their heart, anxiety, worries, hopes and dreams. Let us all become a vehicle of hope and ensure young people are transformed into responsible global citizens, having overcome any disadvantages that they might have faced in the past. This is a true Common Good Vision.
A Plea to address Global Youth Depression
‘In a direct and unapologetically “political” intervention timed for the beginning of the General Election campaign, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, warn party leaders are selling a “lie” that economic growth is the answer to Britain’s social problems.
‘Britain, they argue has been “dominated” by “rampant consumerism and individualism” since the Thatcher era, while the Christian values of solidarity and selflessness have been supplanted by a new secular creed of “every person for themselves”...
It saddens me to note that for what they have said, the Archbishops have been subjected to the usual attacks: they are a bunch of Marxist, leftist, speaking above their stations. They should stick to spirituality and love! Encouraging their parisioners to accept life’s hardship, as for sure they will have a better life in Paradise later on! Letting the 1% off the hook!
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2015
Davos-Klosters, Switzerland 21 - 24 January 2015
Prof. Klaus Schwab,
Founder and Executive Chairman,
World Economic Forum,
Dear Prof. Schwab,
I notice that you hope the 2015 WEF meeting will be a “starting point for a renaissance of global trust”. This is a noble aim, very important and timely. Thus, as the Founder of Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) I wish to endorse and support you in this aim.
Today in many parts of the world, the so-called market, and the values of consumerism, underpinned by the “Black Friday” values, have become increasingly dominant and are now seriously threatening our global future, both in terms of our care of the planet and in increasing societal rivarly and conflict.
In the process we have lost trust in everything. This is why I believe your aim is so important. In the global society in which we now all live, it is essential for our common survival and wellbeing that we build cultures of trust, being prepared to take risks for the common good.
“Values represent our guiding principles: our broadest motivations, influencing the attitudes we hold and how we act.”
‘Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value’- Albert Einstein
As it has been observed throughout history, in action and thought, people are affected by a wide range of influences. Past experience, cultural and social norms are some of the most important ones. Connected to all of these, to some extent, are our values, which represent a strong guiding force, shaping our attitudes and behaviour over the course of our lives. Our values have been shown to influence our political persuasions; our willingness to participate in political action; our career choices; our ecological footprints; how much money we spend, and on what; and our feelings of personal wellbeing, contentment and happiness; as well as our relationship with others, with nature and the Mother Earth, to mention but a few.
Let us pause for a moment and focus on some fundamental and enduring questions of human meaning and value. Questions such as:
1. What does it mean to be human?
2. What does it mean to live a life of meaning and purpose?
3. What does it mean to understand and appreciate the natural world?
4. What does it mean to forge a more just society for the common good?
By their very nature, these questions lend themselves to thought and discussion around ethics, morals and values.
At the GCGI we are delighted and honoured that since 2002 we have been at the forefront of activities to highlight, address and analyse these and other relevant questions.
We recognised that building a better and more harmonious world will demand challenging and novel ways of thinking, perspectives that encompass the broad swath of human experience and wisdom, from the natural sciences and all the social sciences, to the philosophical and spiritual values of the world’s major religions and of indigenous peoples as well. The task before us is a daunting one, and wisdom in how to proceed will come from a multiple of sources, and must embrace the panorama of cultural and disciplinary perspectives. We appreciate that we should not carry on constructing a global society that is materially rich but spiritually poor. We did know that we must be led by values, and must uphold them at all times.
Thus, in 2002, we began to construct globalisation for the common good, as a path to build a more just and sustainable world.
At a recent seminar I was asked by one of the participants if I could explain, in simple, jargon-free language, what I meant by “an economy that serves the common good”, and also what I meant by “sustainability, social justice and ecology”.
I was excited by these questions, as they are very close to my heart. Although, I have written extensively on these issues*, here, now was my chance to engage, face-to-face, with some interested and well-informed people, who wanted some clear explanations. Thus, I began to explain and the dialogue started:
First, I said, in order to see what an economy for the common good might look like, it would be helpful to consider what globalisation for the common good might look like. This is important, as an economy for the common good needs a fertile ground in which to develop. Thus, I began telling them about the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI), where we connect our intellect with our humanity on our path towards the common good.
I explained that to understand and face the challenges of the contemporary world requires us to view the big picture. Whatever we are considering, whether it is war and peace, economics and environment, justice and injustice, love and hatred, cooperation and competition, common good and selfishness, science and technology, progress and poverty, profit and loss, food and population, energy and water, disease and health, education and family, we need to keep the big picture in mind to understand and solve the many pressing problems, large and small, regional or global.
This big picture is also the context in which we can most productively explore the perennial questions of life – its purpose and meaning, the relevance of values, justice and our relationship to the ecosystem which supports all life.