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Humankind: Are you the positive change?

UQ people
Published 4 Sep, 2020  ·  3 minute read

The world seems to be sliding from one deep crisis into the next. But if we look beyond the media’s bleak portrayal of global affairs, we can discover a more positive story. 

COVID-19, growing racism, more than 68 million displaced people, climate change, poverty, violent conflict... At first glance, the state of the world seems quite bleak.

Every day, the media covers these global crises and if we watch enough of the 24/7 news cycle, it’s easy to wonder if the world is becoming more and more unstable. But is this really the case?

Senior Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies Dr Sebastian Kaempf explains how there is more to the story than what we see in the media.

“The media and our gut feeling suggest that right now the world is facing an emergency of unprecedented historical dimensions. Things seem to be spiralling out of control,” he says.

“But once we step back and look more closely, what we actually find is a lot of heartening evidence of positive change.”

According to Dr Kaempf, we have to see past the news to really look at the facts, and then use those to create change. When we look beyond the larger narrative to get the real picture, the world might not be as out of control as it seems.

“If we look at the evidence, we can see that more and more people get lifted out of poverty, that refugees are being cared for much better, and that we have gotten much better at resolving violent conflicts.

“A lot more work is needed, clearly. But what we can also see is that across a number of crisis points, there is some real positive change,” Dr Kaempf says.

Behind the crises we see depicted in the media each day are stories of positive change – and this change isn’t happening by chance. It’s brought about by people actively working to resolve crises and to promote peace – the humanitarian aid workers, peacekeepers, mediators, people in foreign ministries, and those in government.

These are the passionate humanitarians who work to mediate crises and create positive change for a better future.

A former UQ student is just one of those people. A surprise message Dr Kaempf received highlights the importance of peace and conflict studies to help the next generation navigate the unknowns of the future.

“I got an email from an old student of mine who is now working for the United Nations at their headquarters in New York. In that email, the student told me how the world she is now facing is very similar to what was simulated in my classroom,” Dr Kaempf says.

“And that’s the point: if you're concerned about the world and want to do something about it, we arm you with the skills that allow you to make sense of the turmoil. To harness that knowledge to respond to the challenges we face, to make a difference, and to create a more peaceful and just tomorrow.”

Want to create a better world? Learn how through a Bachelor of Arts at UQ.

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