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« Back India: Students as Beacons of Ethics in Higher Education

On the 18 and 25 June 2021, India and the Rani Anna Government College of Women Students hosted an international webinar titled ‘Students as Beacons of Ethics in Higher Education'.The first day of the webinar focused on defining ethics within the context of higher education, challenges that arose due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and partnerships as vehicle for empowering people and building capacity.

Following the inaugural address by Dr. Joseph Dunston, India Programme Executive, Rajula invited Director of India, Rev. Fr. Jose Nandhikkar to take the floor. He noted that quality education leads to sustainable development, and that the inclusion of ethics plays a vital role in doing so. "There is no sustainable development without ethical development,"  and he also noted that students are the beacons of light leading us to a brighter future. He made a call for action to address the widening inequalities, as 17% of the world population remain illiterate and Indian ranking as the second most unequal region with regard to wealth distribution. Accompanying these inequalities are also new challenges, such as the digital divide and poor connectivity exacerbated in light of COVID-19. The pandemic has had a huge impact on the education sector, with more than 1.5 billion students and youth being directly affected by school and university closures. He noted that we must promote life-long learning and opportunities for all by implementation of the four pillars of learning: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together and learning to be.  Rev. Fr. Jose Nandhikkar proposed than rather talking about STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics, we should focus and need more STEAM – science, technology, ethics, arts and mathematics. Donor relationships and strategic partnerships lead, Christine Housel spoke on the importance of ethical foundations for global partnerships. She noted that the international community has acknowledged the role of partnerships, with a SDG being solely attributed to and for partnerships. She listed some of the reasons why people may be hesitant or avoid entering into partnerships, such as sharing power and control, and the associated level of risk by depending on others. However, she emphasised the role of ethical principles for ensuring success of partnerships, such as building trust by being responsible and fair, assigning clear roles and responsibilities and making sure to factor in communication strategies and strong interpersonal skills.  She also spoke about the need to work cross-disciplinary and cross-culturally to find synergies and creating communities. The Academy course on Interreligious Cooperation for Peace teaches users exactly how to do it.  Christine noted that successful partnerships would be a win-win, asserting the notion that "we don't have hurt others to succeed, that there is space for all as we work together". aims to empower people and build capacity by providing a world of resources open to all, including the open access and online Library, and Publications freely available.