These days we could all use a little more understanding. As noted by Lord Anthony Giddens, former Director of the London School of Economics: “We live in the most interconnected world in history. Yet at the same time, the world is driven by conflicts, dislocations and uncertainties – an unsettling and disturbing mixture of huge opportunities and existential risks.” It is for this reason that the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences (CIPSH) jointly established 2016 as the International Year of Global Understanding (IYGU).
The aim of IYGU has been to promote better understanding of how tangible, local actions can have truly global impacts in tackling such critical challenges as climate change, food security and migration. Although human actions have created these global challenges, human actions can also provide the best solutions. One of the founders and architects of the IYGU, Prof. Benno Werlen of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany explains: “We want to build bridges between global thinking and local action. Only when we truly understand the effects of our personal choices – for example in eating, drinking and producing – on the planet, can we make appropriate and effective changes.” Indeed, if individuals know what their day-to-day routines actually mean for the entire planet, they can take appropriate action.
So how can young people get involved? One great way is to enter the IYGU Story Maps Competition to tell their own stories of how local, everyday actions can help us all understand how to work together to solve the problems of our increasingly globalized world.