Kyung Hee Begins the Year 2021 with a Special Ceremony

2021-01-18 Academic

Kyung Hee Academic System held an opening ceremony online on Monday January 4th to celebrate the beginning of the new year

Chancellor Inwon Choue of the Kyung Hee Academic System opened the ceremony with his new year’s address. Kyung Hee Eminent Scholar G. John Ikenberry, Albert G. Milbank Professor at Princeton University, then delivered a special lecture, followed by a Q&A session. Kyung Hee is creating a transition mechanism for the future of next generation by reflecting on the meaning of contemporary crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate issues, extreme weather patterns, food shortages, economic recession, and political instability. To this end, it has held colloquiums, the Kowhang Conference, and open meetings for public debate since last October. As part of the effort, the University organized a special lecture and invited Professor Ikenberry to share his insights on the urgent tasks facing us today.

“We must create a future that focuses on the ‘existential interconnectivity’ of politics, civilization, and the natural world.”
In the new year’s address entitled, “Window into the Future, Ground of Either Despair or Hope,” Chancellor Choue surveyed the present crisis and said, “We are now going through a very unusual and historically difficult period. When we speak in unison of great hope and courage rather than surrender, we can protect our shared home, the planet Earth, where we all can survive and prosper.” He stressed the importance of reflective transitional consciousness to ride out these troubled times, saying, “Now more than ever let us speak of great hope, based solely on science. We need wisdom to lay the groundwork for a better future.”

"The probability of civilizational collapse and mass extinction will be measured differently when new vitality and energy is breathed into science, politics, and our lives,” said Chancellor Choue. The Chancellor explained that, as humankind spurred industrialization, politics began to put economy, growth, and power ahead of the environment, ecology, and climate patterns. Then, he stressed, “Real politics should be more reflective and philosophical. It needs to reinvent itself as a new system that based more on science and that considers the interconnectedness of everything. In our daily lives, we too must prepare for a future that pays attention to the ‘existential interconnectedness’ of politics, civilization, and the natural world.”

Chancellor Choue concluded his speech by saying, “Importantly, for the future of both the next generation and all of us, we must adopt a comprehensive, holistic perspective regarding the relations between ourselves and others; neighbors and society; and civilization and nature. I hope we find the wisdom and determination to overcome the urgency of the times in virtually all aspects of school affairs, administration, management, and institutional management. I call on you to join forces with extraordinary hope and courage in order to embark upon the journey of civilizational transition. Let us go beyond the well-trodden avenues and open a new horizon for the forward-looking transformation.”

“Simultaneous, multiple existential crises demand more international cooperation than ever.”
Professor John Ikenberry said, “Pandemics, climate change, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction facing humanity are threatening not only individual survival but also the future of civilization. The collective onset of geographical and democratic crises along with the existential threat posed by Anthropocene requires international cooperation more than ever, but compounding crisis factors deter the international community from working together.”

While arguing, "countries across the world must create a system for cooperation," he advised that we should consult history for precedents. It is true that we reached more than one critical juncture throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, such as the Great Depression, World War II, fascism, totalitarianism, the Holocaust, and atomic bombing. However, it is also true that we managed to make a turn in 1945 and created a new international order, commonly known as “liberal internationalism.” We stood resolute never to sustain another crisis and then embarked on a journey to restore humanity and build a global ecosystem. The result was an open and multilateral international order based on liberal democracy led by the U.S. Professor Ikenberry expressed his hope and said, “We were able to find ways towards a better future even in the darkest days. Those experiences will serve as a pathfinder to help us surmount current crises, provided that we should never forget what we learned from the past.”

“The COVID-19 clearly demonstrates that mankind and nature share the same fate and that the two are interdependent and interconnected. The pandemic also made it painfully clear that destroying the global ecosystem cannot go without consequence and how critically essential international cooperation is. We should not waste this lesson and devise a new system of international cooperation. We need to reflect on future scenarios that might be created by ever-increasing existential threats and find ways to turn them into a sustainable one,” he concluded.

The opening ceremony was concluded by Chancellor Choue’s remarks on the responsibilities that the Kyung Hee Academy System should fulfill as an academic and educational institution. “We will continue to cherish Kyung Hee’s tradition and history while going beyond the established framework to pursue public values. We will persistently ask ourselves and think about what to do while collaborating and interacting with other organizations,” he said. “Without reflective consciousness, our thought and practice might be shackled by fixed frames, limits, and boundaries. The pandemic has reminded us of the dangers that will ambush us when we fail to combat biased, closed thinking. Kyung Hee will find common values for a better future and strive to lay the groundwork to win the war against disasters in collaboration with other organizations from such fields as academics, education, society, politics, and government,” he concluded.

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