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[Korea Times 2010.11.03] Scholars will explore...
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Scholars will explore new paradigm of 'Body and Civilization'

Kyung Hee is hosting ‘2010 Peace BAR Festival’ to celebrate 29th anniversary of UN International Day of Peace until Friday
By Kang Shin-who

Understanding how the body works, could help people better understand the universe. However, many have so far focused only on social systems and ideology, neglecting reflecting on our body and global humanity.

To live better lives, many philosophers believe human beings need to study their bodies and nature. To that extent, Kyung Hee University has invited world-renowned scholars studying the “philosophy of body” for its annual conference on peace to shed new light on human bodies and modern civilization.

This year’s conference under the theme of “The Body and Civilization: A New Horizon,” will discuss what should be done for a better future for mankind and the world, said Choue In-won, president of the host university, in his welcoming address.
“We want to open a new chapter through this year’s conference. We need to explore new possibilities of peace and prosperity. It’s the human being that recognizes and makes peace,” Choue said. “The human body is the whole of man, and it is embodied in civilization. If we want to better know nature and civilization, we need to develop a new insight into our body. Therefore, we need to take a wholly new and thorough look into our body.”

Choue said the conference will also put a focus on the mankind’s “capacity of self-transcendence.”
“We are the creator of the civilization. That’s because we have this capacity to see beyond ourselves and create new things. This forum will lay a new stepping stone toward the peace and prosperity,” he said.

The international forum has been organized under the university’s ``2010 Peace BAR Festival” to celebrate the 29th anniversary of the UN’s International Day of Peace.

“BAR” is taken from the catchphrase “spiritually Beautiful, materially Affluent, and humanly Rewarding,” an ideal global community that the university is dreaming of.

Choue Young-seek, founder of the Kyung Hee University, along with the International Association of University Presidents and Costa Rica Government sought to create the International Day and Year of Peace in 1981 when growing tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union was mounting.

In November of that year, the resolution was submitted to the 36th UN General Assembly and was unanimously adopted by its 157 member states, promulgating 1986 as the International Year of Peace and the third Tuesday of every September as the International Day of Peace.

Kyung Hee has been holding annual international conferences since 1981 and this year has marked the 29th anniversary of the event in commemoration of the International Day of Peace.
The conference will run today and tomorrow at the Grand Peace Palace of the university’s Seoul campus.

Under the theme, “The Body and Civilization: A New Horizon,” world scholars along with participants will seek answers to the following questions; “What is being human?” "Where is our civilization going?” and “What is our body doing here and now?” The university said this process will generate new values across diverse academic disciplines and forge a peaceful world for mankind.

Scholars stress the importance of looking back into our bodies to find a new meaning for life and nature.

The body activates, diversifies, and resonates with life and death. It is closely connected with other entities and nature. It’s the embodiment of past, future, freedom and oppression. It is also a social space for conflicts and reconciliations.

The participants point out that the significance of exploration of our bodies should not be underestimated as they are a small universe. They said our body is our future _ through the multi-faceted reflections of life, we will be able to discover anew the possibility of communication in search of a shared vision.

The conference consists of a total of five keynote speeches; each for culture, philosophy, life, science, technology and arts, together with roundtable discussion session. Among participants are Mark Johnson, professor of philosophy at the University of Oregon, Tu Weiming, professor of philosophy at Peking University, Richard Shusterman, professor of philosophy at the Florida Atlantic University, Hubert Dreyfus, professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley and Anne Harrington, professor of history and science at Harvard University.

Following the speeches, delivered by five world-renowned philosophers, a round table session will take place on Friday, under the title of “The Body and Our Lives.”

The invited scholars together with Kyung Hee University president and professors discuss about the meaning of the body, filled with numerous cravings and desires.

Along with the conference, the Seoul-based university hosted Wednesday two other programs; Forum for Future Civilizations and Kyung Hee Youth Forum under the theme of “A New Paradigm for Universities of the Future and Social Services” and “Global Leaders in the 21st Century and General Education,” respectively.

During the forum for social services, representatives of the faculty senate, union staff, student body, and alumni associations gathered and discussed how the university can contribute to the creation of a civilized world. Among presenters were Choi Hee-sub, coordinator for Social Service, Global Academy for Future Civilization; Park Seon-min, chief program officer at the Beautiful Foundation; Shin Sang-moon, secretary general of Medipeace; and Choi Woo-suk, professor of Medicine, KHU and chairman of Han-ma-um Service Corps.

The youth forum touched on challenges of universities over restructuring education, reinvigorating research and reorienting praxis to meet the societal need for future leaders. The participants also discussed how “Humanitas College,” which has been recently established at the university, can contribute to a better future.

kswho@koreatimes.co.kr