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A Whole New Ethic: 32nd Keough Lecture Calls For Profound Changes in the Approach to Global Problems

Paul Keough at podium“We need a new ethic and a prophetic vision and commitment to the wellbeing of the world and its people that will radically alter things and dispositions at the most fundamental level. We need a new ethic that will be committed to justice and equity in the world. A new ethic that will alter the prevailing national and government narrative that says that priority#1 on most of these matters is “what is the national interest of America? Of the UK? Of Canada or Brazil? The narrative must shift from “national interest” to what is just and what would be in support of the global good.”

This is the view of international development scholar and practitioner, Paul Mikov, who spoke at the
32nd G. Arthur Keough lecture hosted by Washington Adventist University’s Department of Religion, March 22 and 23.

Mikov was one of two keynote presenters who spoke under the broad theme, “Destination 2020: Will Justice and Peace Embrace? – Justice and Provision of Global Social Goods in an Era of Crises, Needs and Increasing Scarcities.”

Keough audienceHe identified three mega trends—defined as a major shift in environmental, social or economic conditions that will substantially change the way people live—that amount to serious threats to the successful delivery/provision of national and global public goods: 1) continued rapid population growth, 2) increasing scarcity of resources that are fundamental to life such as water, food and energy, and 3) climate change and its potential impact on the world.

“When one considers the convergence of these three mega trends, and the likely results and implications for the affairs of the world, one does not need Nostradamus and his apocalyptic predictions, nor are SDA prophetic eschatological interpretations needed to conclude that that the future of our world does not look rosy,” Mikov said at the 7:00 pm March 22 lecture in Richards Hall, titled. “Prospects and Perils in the Delivery of Global Public Goods in an age of Mega Trends and threats.”

Innovation, transfer of technology, mandatory secondary education, dealing with corruption, South-South cooperation, public-private partnership and greater involvement of the private sector, are among the traditional solutions advanced, Mikov said.

“Still I cannot help but feel like all of these proposed solutions are band aid; proposing solutions with “particularities” rather than “fundamentals.” I propose that what is needed and what comes with the greatest potential for position change and impact is a whole new ethic; as much, if not more, than all of the innovations and ingenuity the world can master,” Mikov said.

Mikov is executive advisor for Boris Trajkovski International Foundation and a visiting scholar at the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University in New York City, where he teaches in the human rights and humanitarian Affairs programs. Prior to his current roles, he worked with World Vision International for nine years, where he held senior management and leadership roles, specializing in humanitarian affairs and policy and advocacy. For the last six years, he worked as the director of World Vision International’s New York Office and as their United Nation Representative until August 2012. Mikov spoke again on Saturday morning on the topic, “Reflections on a Theology of Humanitarian Action.” He asserted that “there is a direct correspondence and continuity between theology of relief, and therefore a theology of development, and the theology of the Christian church in its nature and mission.”

Jonathan Papoulidis delivered the second lecture, Saturday, March 23 at 3: 30 p.m., also in Richards Hall, titled “Prospects and Perils in the Delivery of Global Public Goods in an Age of Conflict and Interdependence.”

Papoulidis is senior policy advisor, peace building and humanitarian affairs at World Vision Canada.  He is currently a visiting Scholar at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University.  He previously served with the United Nations (UN) on three continents in peacekeeping, conflict prevention, humanitarian affairs, governance reform and recovery.  He was UN special advisor for Aceh, Indonesia, and advisor to the UN deputy special  envoy for Liberia.

The annual lecture honors Keough, a former faculty member in the Religion Department at WAU.

The full texts of Mikov’s lecture are attached below.

Prospects and Perils in the Delivery of Global Public Goods by Paul Mikov 32nd Keough Lectureship March 2013

Reflections on a Theology of Humanitarian Action by Paul Mikov