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Academic Program

TOPIC/ KEYNOTE 2023

Conflict, Challenge, and Change: State – Society – Religion

GUSEGG 2023 will offer a discussion on how conflict, challenge, and change determine our lives as individuals and as a society. Our times are marked by various conflicts and antagonisms arising from challenging circumstances: climate change, war, inequality, poverty, hunger, pandemics. The problems faced today are conceived of in different ways: as unexpected tragedies, as predictable outcomes of past behavior, as the result of systematic and structural processes, or as the consequence of individual actions or even chance. Sometimes these conceptions overlap, inform each other, and create a sense of transparency, but mostly they produce conflicting and competing interpretations of the current situation. Is a crisis a challenge or even an opportunity for change? Conflict is the consequence of the highly complex way our societies are organized, but it is also the consequence of political inaction and irresponsibility, which allow tensions to spiral out of control. If legitimate grievances are addressed promptly and adequately, could conflicts be prevented before they become a dangerous threat to social cohesion? But what about grievances that do not seem to possess any sort of legitimacy – grievances based on conspiracy theories or pseudo-historical claims to the territory of another sovereign state? In order to resolve a conflict, its basis must be understood. Also, the challenge that any conflict brings is that a return to the status quo ante is often made impossible in the wake of such confrontations. This leads to the question of change. Assuming a rationale concerning conflicts, a return to the world before the conflict would mean a return to the world that allowed the conflict to arise in the first place. Change carries with it the promise of a lasting solution, a future of enduring reconciliation. This too, however, is an illusion. Conflict – in various degrees – will always be part of our lives. It is a constant challenge to attempt to resolve tensions and antagonisms without multiplying and escalating them. Following this, change does not mean change towards a future where no more change would be needed, but change as an ongoing process that is not to be completed. If conflict is a challenge and a question, change is the answer. However, dialogue between the past and the present must continue as the basis of a democratic ideal, as silence as an alternative would not signal the end of all conflicts, but the end of a democratic way of dealing with them. Therefore, creative transformation processes are necessary to meet the various challenges faced.

Thus, GUSEGG 2023 will present research on how conflict, challenge, and change are addressed socially, politically, culturally, and economically, and what this means for states, societies, and religions. In order to develop strategies and methods to meet the challenges of our times, this summer school suggests engaging in academic contemplation and interdisciplinary exchange. Such investigations offer us the opportunity of developing disruptive intellectual approaches and ideas, as we can gain insights into the many forces that make us believe that the challenges we face are essential, natural, or inevitable. Therefore, the suggested analysis offers us not only an understanding of our own positions on an individual, a regional, national, and global level, but also the possibility of moving from a passive position to active involvement in addressing conflict, challenge, and change, and offer insights into the dynamics and structures that govern us and shape as individuals and groups. Focusing on the emphasis areas of the University of Graz – South Eastern Europe and North, Central and South America – this program will offer a basis for discussing global and continental challenges as well as opportunities that such academic engagement provides.

 

Roberta Maierhofer

for the Academic Advisory Board  

How the Summer School Works

CERTIFICATE/ECTS

Participants will receive a certificate of participation at the end of the summer school. Please note that this only confirms the participation and cannot be used for credit transfer.

Students who wish to receive 6 ECTS credits are required to participate in the full program AND to write a seminar paper. Instructions about writing a seminar paper and more information about the credits,will be distributed throughout the course of the summer school. Once students have received a positive grade, transcripts will be available. These transcripts can be used to obtain credit at the home institution.


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