Students Striving Towards Global Peace and Prosperity
This August, I spent 10 days at a seminar for Bahá’i university students that takes place every summer for the UK and Ireland. The Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity (ISGP) is a four-year programme that gives participants the opportunity to make numerous new friendships with students from across the country, and to explore themes around social action and participation in public discourses, with an underlying goal of striving towards global peace and prosperity. A few themes we discussed include the harmony between science and religion, social media, the importance of spiritual and material education, and alternative principles behind economics.
One prominent theme that often comes up in the seminar is the theme of service. In the Baháʼí Faith, the purpose of life is twofold: one aspect is to develop our own intellectual and spiritual capacities, while the other aspect is to contribute to the transformation of society through service. The seminar changes the way we view prosperity, from the current material lens to a more spiritual lens and emphasises how service to humanity is essential to achieve a global and prosperous community.
In relation to service, the seminar materials focus on the concept of coherence. Striving to achieve coherence between studies and service is a common challenge for university students. However, the seminar provides a safe space to reflect on how to overcome this challenge. It is a space for participants to share inspirational stories, which is a means of empowering others to go back home to their communities and incorporate service into their studies. As ʻAbdu'l-Bahá says: “Work done in the spirit of service is the highest form of worship.”
Another theme that comes up in the seminar material is the structured process of study, consultation, action and reflection. These four aspects have to be regarded simultaneously, not linearly, and following this process is an effective means towards social action. Many themes learnt at the seminar can be applied in a university setting. For example, deepening on themes such as consultation and the importance of reflection with fellow university students helps us work together in groups and recognise important learnings for future improvement.
This summer was my second year of attending the ISGP seminar. The materials have given me a framework which I can refer to during my university studies, by encouraging me to transform what I studied at ISGP into action. The friendships I made provide a source of intellectual and practical support for my studies and service at university. I hope to invite my university friends to walk this path of service with me. Baháʼu'lláh says: “Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.”
To learn more about the work of ISGP, please visit their website:
“Students Striving for Global Peace and Prosperity” written by Ziki Gurney, studying Medicine at Brighton and Sussex Medicine School.