A recent conference in Minsk considered ways to address global problems that threaten humanity and the world. Both local and international academicians attended the event, which was organized by the Dialogue Eurasia Platform, the Belarusian State University (BSU), Istanbul University, and the Belarusian State Academy of Arts.
The cultural dialogue between East and West is a great example and a convincing picture of the opportunity to build constructive interaction between different cultures and value systems.
Vladimir Klunya, vice-rector of the Belarusian State University
In his welcoming remarks at the conference titled “The Alliance of Civilizations amid the Global Ecological Crisis,” BSU Vice-Rector Vladimir Klunya emphasized dialogue and its role in challenging the ‘clash of civilizations’ theory. He explained, “In this regard, the cultural dialogue between East and West is a great example and a convincing picture of the opportunity to build constructive interaction between different cultures and value systems.”
Professor Irina Leschinskaya built on the idea of dialogue during her speech at the conference. She focused on Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, who is known for developing tolerance and dialogue through his Hizmet, or service, movement. According to Leschinskaya, Gulen is a “symbol of dialogue between cultures” on account of his multilateral activities and charistmatic personality. “Gulen attaches great importance to a person and his material and spiritual development,” she said. “In addition, he underlines that intercultural dialogue can only be achieved if based on the principles of mutual respect and tolerance.”
Speaking from an educational perspective, Professor Olga Zhuk, head of the department of pedagogy at BSU, argued for the need to develop a pedagogical format that takes both national and global values into account. “This format should help young people to integrate into various cultural and religious environments, and not to forget their country and their values,” she said. “The ability to look at global and local problems comprehensively will help to solve such problems as the ‘brain drain’ and the crisis of self-determination.”
Olga Pavlovskya, candidate of philosophical sciences and docent of the Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Science of Belarus, noted that one of the most important issues of our time is the spiritual development of a person. She said that in the Soviet Union, this issue had been ignored, even though human development depends on the development of spirituality. “The same thing is said on this issue by great teachers of mankind; these great teachers are usually religious figures,” Pavlovskya said. “One and the same theme – the achievement of human perfection – can be traced in Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam.”
Dr. Arslan Fahrettin then raised the question of developing an environmental consciousness in society, which he said is essential for the future of our world and humanity. He pointed out that if we do not save the world, there will be no point in arguing about either the alliance or the clash of civilizations.
Other notable conference attendees included Dr. Ali Selcuk Biricik and Dr. Deniz Ekinci, dean of Istanbul University’s Faculty of Distance Education.
Overall, the conference featured reports in various fields, including philosophy, sociology, economics, environmental science, and education. There was a consensus on the growing need to establish an alliance of civilizations as well as intercultural dialogue among societies in order to solve global issues.