May 11, 2018 at 8:10 am

Petrik Talks at UN Conference about Role of Higher Education in Promoting Peace and Justice

James Petrik with Kazakh National University Rector, Galym Mutanov, photo at United Nations

James Petrik with Kazakh National University Rector, Galym Mutanov

When Dr. James Petrik, Associate Professor of Philosophy, lectured in April at Kazakh National University in Kazakhstan, he was invited to join Kazakh National University Rector, Galym Mutanov, at a United Nations conference.

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Conference, held on May 2, was devoted to Kazakh National University’s plan to restructure its educational mission in accord with medieval Islamic philosopher al˗Fārābī’s ideal of the virtuous city. Drawing upon the work of Aristotle, al˗Fārābī envisioned an ideal society composed of individuals from diverse nations, cultures, and races, all of whom are committed to using reason to acquire knowledge and to cultivate morally excellent characters.

As President of Kazakh National University, Galym Mutanov, explained in his keynote address, the goal of institutions of higher learning ought to be that of cultivating both the minds and the hearts of students so that they progress toward becoming global citizens devoted to a) the pursuit of the truth, b) the understanding of those from different nations and diverse backgrounds, and c) the betterment of humanity at large. “The time has come,” Rector Mutanov noted, “when higher education must fully assume its fundamental role in shaping a culture of peace, creating more just, peaceful and tolerant societies.”

Ohio University’s Petrik was one of five invited speakers to make a presentation at the conference as part of a roundtable discussion of the vision laid out by Rector Mutanov. Petrik spoke of the role that education can play in uniting diverse human beings through their shared rational interest in acquiring knowledge, tying al˗Fārābī’s ideal of the virtuous society to Kazakh Philosopher Abai Qunanbaiuli’s contention that human love and human reason are inseparable.

Read more about Rector Mutanov’s presentation and Kazakh National University’s virtuous city initiative.

James Petrik, outside United Nations in front of statute of pistol with barrel tied into a knot, signifying peace

James Petrik in front of Non-Violence, a sculpture by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd that sits inside the United Nations compound

Petrik’s participation in the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Conference came about as part of his ongoing relationship with Kazakh National University, including his having lectured there several times over the past eight years. Most recently, this April he traveled to Almaty, Kazakhstan, to participate in a conference to honor the 70th birthday of distinguished professor of Kazakh Philosophy, Jakipbek Altayev. Petrik was accompanied on the trip to Kazakhstan by his daughter, Helena, and wife, Lynn.

Lynn Petrik, who is a research nurse in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine Clinical and Translational Research Unit, gave presentations about the prevention of needle-stick injuries at Kazakh National University and at Kazakh National Medical University.

About this most recent visit to Almaty, James Petrik remarked, “I was so pleased that Lynn and Helena were able to join me and experience firsthand what I’ve often told them about: the Kazakh tradition of great hospitality. It is a tradition the Kazakh people trace to nomadic times when welcoming a stranger traveling across the vast Kazakh steppe might well be a life-saving gesture.”

In the photo below, Helena Petrik, who is a business major in Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College, wears a shirt designed by Kazakh National University students majoring in editorial design. The shirt was a present Helena received from the students during her time in Almaty.

Helena Petrik “thanks” her new Kazakh friends.

Helena Petrik “thanks” her new Kazakh friends.

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