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Friday, 24 July 2015

Public Universities: get the basics right, management in, and the politicians out

The Role of Public Universities

It makes me sad to read about the state of some public universities in low and middle income countries. The list of challenges is always the same: incoming students who are insufficiently prepared academically and not university ready, a library without books, departments without or insufficient number of qualified lecturers,  inadequate services of all kinds, run down physical infrastructure, due to lack of maintenance, unreliable slow internet, and worse than all that put together: the continuous attack by those practicing the personalized politics of pompous and inflated ego's, while pursuing narrow personal interests.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Dr. Tom Pynn - Remembrance Day: Challenging Us to Build a Culture of Peace

In Honor of the first Students’ Peace and Leadership Conference
Papua New Guinea University of Technology, July 23, 2015

(video here)

Dr. Tom Pynn
Senior Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies
Peace Studies Program, Coordinator
Religious Studies Program, Interim Coordinator
Kennesaw University, Atlanta Georgia, USA

Dr. Tom Pynn by video

Good morning.

It is a privilege being invited by all of you to say a few words in honor of your first Student Peace Leadership Conference. I am humbled to join you and to be included among the speakers for this day: Ms. Lucy Kopana, Ms. Margaret Tongia and Mr. Bernard Nulai. I hope that these few words are a thoughtful and hopeful contribution to your conference and that they add value to the day’s proceedings and future activities in the service of all living things in peace and reconciliation.

The theme of your conference is “Advancing Societies through Peace and Stability”, but it is also a student peace leadership conference on a day remembering the event of war and the participation in war. Holding a peace conference on such a day is a challenge to all of us both to bear in mind and recall to mind the suffering, destruction, and despair caused to all living beings—human and non-human--that war always entails. Indeed, war and the willfully ignorant destruction of life is a monument to human beings at their very worst.

Monday, 20 July 2015

On being a good university (part 3)

Speech for the installation of the Industrial Advisory Committee on 20 July 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Today marks a milestone for the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (UNITECH) on the way to international accreditation of its science and engineering programs, during its 50th year of existence. I want to thank in particular our Pro Vice Chancellor Academic, Dr. Augustine Moshi, and the staff from the Registry to make this possible.

We install an Industrial Advisory Board, composed of executive level industry representative of leading companies in PNG and world wide.

Members of the Industrial Advisory Board

Monday, 13 July 2015

Remembrance Day: UNITECH Students' Peace and Leadership Conference 23 July 2015

Each year on the 23rd of July on Remembrance Day in this country we commemorate all Papua New Guinean soldiers who served during World War I, World War II and in missions within the country, and abroad. It is celebrated today, because on 23rd of July 1942 the Papuan Infantry Brigade led by Australian Officers, engaged with the Japanese enemy at Awalla, near Kokoda.

Today, we are here not to glorify war but rather to celebrate the virtues of a positive peace. We will have a video lecture made especially for you for this conference by Thomas Pynn, Professor of Peace Studies at  Kennesaw University in Atlanta (Georgia, USA) who asks what exactly we want to remember on this day. The way we remember can reflect either martial - which means war related - values or human values. Remembering is an intentional act, in which we have a choice, he says. He also speaks about the Alternative to Violence Project AVP (1975) project, which recently has developed a strong youth component.

But let's go back to the lessons the past has in store for us, if we care to learn them. I am sure none of the Papua New Guinean soldiers will fondly remember the horrors of war. They will however truly appreciate the benefits of today's peace, however partial or imperfect. Many of those soldiers served under colonial masters. Those masters have gratefully acknowledged the contribution of PNG soldiers made to victory. In fact, only the positive collaboration  between Australians and Papua New Guineans against the Japanese explains why Papua New Guinea was spared Japanese occupation, while Indonesia (then Dutch) was not. From this collaboration, strong and lasting bonds of friendship were formed.

Most Papua New Guinean soldiers served on the side of democratic powers, although many of them also served - out of need - totalitarian and fascist Japan. Today's freedoms, however, can only be enjoyed because democracy triumphed and not totalitarianism and fascism.

On Remembrance Day when we remember war, it is a fitting day to reflect on peace with the goal of promoting and extending the full benefits of true peace to all members of society. This requires a special type of leadership, and during this conference we can deepen our understanding about the type of leadership peace building requires.

"Peace riding in a triumphal chariot Bosio Carrousel" by Jastrow