Spain: DemosPaz, a new Institute of UAM and the Foundation Culture of Peace


A blog by Montserrat Ponsa (translated by CPNN)

On Friday 19 February 2016, I was honored to attend one of those unforgettable events that make history. At 10.30 h in the morning, the Rector of the UAM [Universidad Autónoma de Madrid] José María Sanz Martínez and the President of Fundación Cultura de Paz Federico Mayor Zaragoza signed an agreement to establish the Joint Institute for Human Rights, Democracy, Culture of Peace and Nonviolence between the UAM and the Culture of Peace Foundation. It will be known as DemosPaz.

mayor inauguration
video of inauguration

The audience was impressive as it was attended by the deans and professors of different faculties, Social Council, friends and colleagues from the world of human rights and peace.

At the podium in addition to the Rector and Federico Mayor were the Dean of the Faculty of Law Yolanda Valdeolivas, the Dean of the Faculty of Science José María Carrascosa, and the dean of Philosophy and Lettersw, José María Cascón.

Their speeches touched us by their emotion. It was not a mere formal act. It was a unanimous decision involving all members of the Rectorate, the Governing Council and the Social Council.

The function of the University, said Yolanda Valdeolivas, is the promotion of knowledge and life styles to be sustainable. Hence the need to work with society, given that peace is more than the absence of war. It is a question of values and attitudes gained through dialogue. Both the UAM and the Culture of Peace Foundation share the rigorous methodology that has always been promoted by Federico Mayor Zaragoza. This agreement with the UAM will enable us to enlarge this and to share it with others.

The Dean of Philosophy Jose Maria Cascón said all the faculties of the university wish to be involved. This brings to an end the neoliberalism and ultra liberalism from the days of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, a capitalism that is difficult to reconcile with peace. He criticized the discussions taking place these days in Brussels among those who run the world, calling it shameful. They continue to blame the poor. Our enthusiasm, coincides with the basic principle of this new Institute, to combat the neo-liberal ideology. Hence, the Joint Institute for Human Rights, Democracy, Culture of Peace and Nonviolence, and the ambition and enthusiasm of our Rector, our Deans, and Federico Mayor Zaragoza.

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(click here for the Spanish version)

Question for this article:

What is the relation between peace and education?

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The Dean of Science José María Carrascosa, said it was an honor to participate in this event, and to share the energy of Dr. Federico Mayor Zaragoza, with whom I had the pleasure of working at the Center for Molecular Biology Severo Ochoa. He was pleased that the UAM is supporting this new field of multidisciplinary research. Science has contributed much to life, but the lack of control of some advances has enabled death and atomic destruction, hence the need to achieve our goal which is peace.

Federico Mayor Zaragoza spoke emotionally, saying he was happy and grateful to the UAM, one of the most important centers of the world, for its clear mission: to change from the culture of force and imposition, teaching how to think, to create a philosophy of life, to be free and educated. They undertake intergenerational responsibility on a daily basis with the clear premise that all human lives are equal. He emphasized that we must all share and change from confrontation to discussion. Economics must be subordinated to social justice to ensure a decent life for everyone, a life free from fear. He welcomed the opportunity to work together for the triumph of human rights, especially for those who have not yet known these rights.

Closing the ceremony the Rector José Maria Sanz, thanked Mr Mayor for the confidence he has shown in the UAM: offering us the opportunity for innovation so that, in this 21st Century, research can generates knowledge that transfer to society values that are different from those of the past. His proposal gives us the opportunity to enter this frontier of knowledge, training, and debate. It will allow us to incorporate new areas into UAM, as well as in the society in general. We must focus on interdisciplinary culture in all areas of knowledge, to end inequality, poverty and violence. The UAM will be the engine to offer and go for the opposition values, that build the society of well-being for all without discrimination. The DemosPaz Institute should not only be for UAM but national and international in scope.

The audience was moved by the words we heard. No doubt there will be a beaufiful future for this initiative. No doubt it will achieve great things!