- Written by: Kamran Mofid
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The Story of the GCGI
Kamran Mofid, Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI)
We live in difficult and troubling times, facing unprecedented global challenges in the areas of climate change and ecology, finance and economics, hunger and infectious disease, international relations and cooperation, peace and justice, terrorism and war, armaments and unparalleled violence. It is precisely in times like these – unstable and confusing though they may be – that people everywhere need to keep their eyes on the better side of human nature, the side of love and compassion, rather than hatred and injustice; the side of the common good, rather than selfishness, individualism and greed.
People need to see there are serious alternatives to the current failing policies, rules and institutions, which govern the world these days. There is hope in likeminded global citizens who share a vision of common values. Such a vision can lift us out of the deep sense of powerlessness and despair that is now affecting so many parts of the world.
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.
The Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative Annual Conference series have ranged far across the world through Oxford, Saint Petersburg, Dubai, Nairobi/Kericho, Honolulu, Istanbul, Melbourne, Chicago and Thousand Oaks, California. The 10th Annual Conference, once again, is returning to Oxford in September 2012.
The GCGI conferences have created and continue to create an ever-widening international community of scholars, researchers and experts, forging links and establishing dialogues across national, cultural, religious, and academic boundaries, and putting into practice the movement’s core philosophy: that globalisation need not be defined merely in terms of impersonal market forces, but that an alternative type of globalization can be a power for good, building spiritual bonds that can unite humanity and bring different cultures, civilisations, faiths and academic disciplines closer together.
Today the GCGI is considered a leading progressive think tank, producing cutting-edge research and innovative policy ideas for a just, democratic and sustainable world. For the last 10 years, GCGI has helped shape the progressive thinking that is becoming the political centre ground. Independent and radical, we are committed to combating inequality, empowering citizens, promoting social responsibility, creating a sustainable economy and revitalising democracy. Best known for our influential work on Globalisation for the Common Good, Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility, Value-led Economics and Business Education, Ecology, Environment& Sustainable Development, Interfaith Dialogue and more, we now have significant cooperative projects with a number of universities, think tanks and civil societies in many countries around the world. GCGI’s media programme and its influential online Journal, Journal of Globalisation for the Common Good, hosted at Purdue University, has since its inception in 2005 made significant contributions in furthering progressive goals in education and media policy.
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 is a non-profit making initiative with no formal income, capital, seed money, or endowment. It has no bank account, cheque book, team of fund-raisers or accountants. This self-sustaining funding mechanism has been a key lynch pin of our independence and integrity. At no point in our history has the GCGI been so reliant on external sources that if external funding is removed, the GCGI cannot continue.
The most precious capital of the GCG is the calibre of its friends and supporters, including the universities that have hosted our annual conferences, and more. With their love, trust and goodwill many have committed themselves as partners in shared vision, to support the work of the GCGI in a spirit of moral, spiritual and intellectual collaboration.
Reflecting upon our shared journey for the common good, it is amazing to me that ten years have gone by so quickly. What began as a simple idea to share the practical wisdom of the common good, dialogue, love, generosity, kindness, and more has blossomed into an internationally recognized non-profit organization that has become a leading resource “inspiring people to do great things for the common good”.
From the very beginning, I was confident of ultimate success. If we could reach-out to people around the world and become an all-volunteer network of individuals, I thought growth would follow organically by focusing on our vision and mission. And it has.
As you might imagine, in the initial days when we began sharing our vision of doing things for the common good, we were met with a great deal of scepticism, apprehension, and thankfully, some warm embraces and love. We were energized by all of those early experiences and continued to find ways to build ideas, programmes and initiatives around our main message and theme of Globalisation for the Common Good.
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 the last ten years, so similar to all those who have taken a values-based-journey of self-discovery, I too have realized, “From the great oceans, vast plains and highest mountains that sustain our fragile and vital ecosystem, to our village friends and city dwellers that bring meaning to our common journey, we are quickly realizing that everyone and everything is interconnected and interdependent.
With each passing day, it is also increasingly evident in every corner of our world that great change is upon us and that by standing together in mutual respect, honour and dignity for one another, we will answer this call with creative, viable and sustainable solutions.
We must take the necessary steps now to reach out to our fellow humans and extend our hand in forgiveness, acceptance and genuine friendship. Our choices shall be made from compassion while embracing the richness of our amazing diversity. The love and acceptance we have for ourselves will be the source of our strength to assist others. Together we can and will make a difference through love.
These necessary changes may challenge us to the depths of our courage and test the very essence of our personal character, yet with each ensuing breath we shall remain in love and this love will be the very basis of a new era of peace and abundance, equality and goodwill for all”.
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.
Therefore, yes, it is true: “Love, Trust, Respect and Gratitude Trumps Economics”.
- Written by: Kamran Mofid
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First posted on 22 May 2012- Revised and updated on 27 November 2019
Lest We Forget
Today, by and large, our compromised, neoliberalised, marketised universities are nothing but an Inside Job!
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, letter to the Times (08/03/2011)
‘Every single American and every person thinking of going to business school (and especially those in Business School) needs to see the documentary, Inside Job. This film is one of the most powerful, well-made and brave documentaries I have ever seen, and I have seen a heck of a lot of docs having been a programmer and documentary producer/director for the last two decades. I do not understand why this film is not being distributed widely, as it deserves a massive budget to promote it and the message it communicates so well. It needs to be shown to all high school students as a warning and should be required for all undergraduates who decide to study Economics, Business, Marketing, Women’s Studies, Education... basically everyone should see it.
Because not understanding what has happened is already leading us to repeat our mistakes. Don’t be fooled, those who created this depression, and we must call it what it is, are still in positions of power, and are still being paid huge sums of money to influence the economy, and worst of all, young people who are the future generations who will one day be running the businesses, economy, governments of the world.’-Vivian Norris, HUFFPOST,25 May 2011
Yesterday (21 May 2012) I posted a short announcement about a forthcoming book- Inside Job- by Charles Ferguson. In that blog I drew your attention to the “Grand Heist: The Theft of the Century”, the “Wall Street's role in the financial crisis”.
Today, I wish to share with you something that is very close to my heart; something that I have passionately been mentioning and writing about since the late 1990s.
Here it is. Let us have it one more time. This time from Charles Ferguson*:
Heist of the century: University corruption and the financial crisis
'Why was the response from US academic experts to the global financial crisis so muted? In the second extract from his book Inside Job, Charles Ferguson argues that corruption in universities is deeply entrenched.’
Many people who saw my documentary Inside Job found that the most disturbing portion of the film was its revelation of widespread conflicts of interest in universities, at thinktanks, and among academic experts. Viewers who watched my interviews with eminent professors were stunned at what came out of their mouths.
Yet we should not be surprised. Over the past couple of decades medical professionals have amply demonstrated the influence money can have in a supposedly objective, scientific field. In general, medical schools and journals have responded well, adopting disclosure requirements. The economics discipline, business schools, law schools and political science schools have reacted very differently.
Over the past 30 years, significant portions of American academia have deteriorated into "pay to play" activities. These days, if you see a famous economics professor testify in Congress, or write an article, there is a good chance he or she is being paid by someone with a big stake in what's being debated. Most of the time, these professors do not disclose these conflicts of interest, and most of the time their universities look the other way.
Half a dozen consulting firms, several speakers' bureaus and various industry lobbying groups maintain large networks of academics for hire for the purpose of advocating industry interests in policy and regulatory debates. The principal industries involved are energy, telecommunications, healthcare, agribusiness – and, most definitely, financial services.
Some examples. Glenn Hubbard became dean of Columbia Business School in 2004, shortly after leaving the George W Bush administration. Much of his academic work has been focused on tax policy. A fair summary is that he has never seen a tax he would like. In November 2004 Hubbard co-authored an astonishing article, jointly with William C Dudley, then chief economist at Goldman Sachs. The article, How Capital Markets Enhance Economic Performance and Facilitate Job Creation, warrants quotation. Remember, this is November 2004, with the bubble well under way: "The capital markets have helped make the housing market less volatile ... 'Credit crunches' of the sort that periodically shut off the supply of funds to home buyers … are a thing of the past."
Hubbard refused to say whether he was paid to write the article. He also refused to provide me with his most recent government financial disclosure form, which we could not obtain otherwise because the White House had destroyed it. Hubbard was paid $100,000 (£63,000) to testify for the criminal defence of two Bear Stearns hedge fund managers prosecuted in connection with the bubble, who were acquitted. Last year, Hubbard became a senior economic adviser to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.
Larry Summers has held almost every important government position in economics. Treasury secretary under President Clinton, in 2009 he became director of the National Economic Council in the Obama administration.
Although sensible about many issues, Summers has made a succession of well-documented mistakes and compromises. And his views on the financial sector would be hard to distinguish from those of, say, [Goldman Sachs chief] Lloyd Blankfein or [JP Morgan boss] Jamie Dimon.
Most of our information about Summers comes from his mandatory government disclosure form. Summers' 2009 disclosure form stated his net worth to be $17m-$39m. His total earnings in the year prior to joining the government were almost $8m. Goldman Sachs paid him $135,000 for one speech.
Summers is a compromised man who owes most of his fortune and much of his political success to the financial services industry, and who was involved in some of the most disastrous economic policy decisions of the past half century. In the Obama administration, Summers opposed strong measures to sanction bankers or curtail their income.
Harvard still does not require Summers to disclose his financial-sector involvements. Both Harvard and Summers declined my requests for information.
The problem of academic corruption is now so deeply entrenched that these disciplines, and leading universities, are severely compromised, and anyone considering bucking the trend would rationally be very scared. Consider this situation: you're a PhD student, or a junior faculty member, considering doing some research on, say, compensation structures on risk-taking in financial services, or the potential impact of public disclosure requirements on the market for credit default swaps. The president of your university is … Larry Summers.
The chairman of your department is …Glenn Hubbard. Or you're at MIT, and you want to examine the decline in corporate tax payments. The president of MIT is Susan Hockfield, on the board of GE, a company that has managed to avoid paying hardly any corporate taxes for several years.
How much do these forces actually affect academic research and policymaking? The available evidence suggests that the effect is large.
Academic commentary on the financial crisis by economists has been remarkably muted. There are, to be sure, some notable exceptions. But for the most part, the silence has been deafening. How can an entire industry come to be structured such that employees are encouraged to loot and destroy their own firms? Why did deregulation and economic theory fail so spectacularly?
The release of the film Inside Job clearly touched a nerve with regard to these questions. I was contacted by a large number of students and faculty, and there has been a great deal of debate. Departments including the Columbia Business School have adopted disclosure requirements for the first time. But most universities still have no such requirements, and few if any have any limitations on the existence of conflicts of interest. The same is true of most academic publications. Newspaper reporters are strictly prohibited from accepting money from any industry or organisation they write about.
*This article was first published in the Guardian on Monday 21 May 2012.
See the original article HERE
A Must Read Book
University, Inc.: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education
How the emerging alliance between the worlds of academia and business puts our universities at risk and how this union will affect us all. Our federal and state tax dollars are going to fund higher education. If corporations kick in a little more, should they be able to dictate the research or own the discoveries?During the past two decades, commercial forces have quietly transformed virtually every aspect of academic life. Corporate funding of universities is growing and the money comes with strings attached. In return for this funding, universities and professors are acting more and more like for-profit patent factories: university funds are shifting from the humanities and the less profitable science departments into research labs, and the skill of teaching is valued less and less. Slowly but surely, universities are abandoning their traditional role as disinterested sources of education, alternative perspectives, and wisdom.
This growing influence of corporations over universities affects more than just today's college students (and their parents); it compromises the future of all those whose careers depend on a university education, and all those who will be employed, governed, or taught by the products of American universities.
About the Author
Jennifer Washburn is currently a Fellow at the New America Foundation. Formerly a Fellow at the Open Society Institute and a senior research associate for the Arms Trade Resource Center of the World Policy Institute at the New School for Social Research Washburn writes for The Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, Lingua Franca, the American Prospect, and other national magazines. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
See also another must-read book
- Written by: Kamran Mofid
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On behalf of the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI), the School of Economic Science and the Local Organising Committee, it is a great pleasure and an honour to extend to you a warm invitation to attend the 10th Annual GCGI International Conference to be held September 2 through September 5, 2012 at Waterperry House, Waterperry Gardens, Oxford.
At the time of continuing and deepening global crises, the rise in debilitating hopelessness, despair, fear and anxiety, we need to come together in spirit of sharing, giving and caring, to hear the voices of wisdom, hope and commitment to the common good. We should search with an open mind for the wisdom we need to transform our economic system to a sustainable path, grounded in ecological reality, with respect for justice and dignity for all, and our appreciation for nature and our kinship for all living things.
Building a new economics system 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.
During 2-5 September 2012 an international community of scholars, researchers, religious and spiritual leaders, experts, activists, students and the youth, will come together for the 2012 GCGI Annual Conference- ten years on from the first conference held in Oxford in 2002; forging links and deepening the continuing dialogues across national, cultural, religious, and academic boundaries, and putting into practice the movement’s core vision: 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; building spiritual bonds that can unite humanity and bring different cultures, civilisations and faiths closer together for the good of all.
It goes without saying that all of us associated with the organisation of the conference will be delighted if you consider taking part in this debate, dialogue and conversation.
To see the Final Programme and how to register: