Bridging Academia and Meaningfulness in the MENA region
On September 15th, 2022, Voluntas and the Arab Master’s program in Democracy and Human Rights, “Global Campus – Arab World” signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), laying the foundation for a new era of cross-sector collaboration in the MENA region.
The Arab Master’s program in Democracy and Human Rights (ArMA) – hosted and coordinated by Saint Joseph University of Beirut – is one of seven regional programs of the Global Campus of Human Rights (GCHR). It offers a unique cross-regional and interdisciplinary program, combining research-oriented courses with insights from practitioners from across the MENA region. The ArMA program is implemented by the Institute of Political Science at Saint Joseph University of Beirut, in cooperation with Birzeit University in Palestine, the International University of Rabat in Morocco, the University of Carthage in Tunisia, the University of Southern Denmark and the Danish Institute for Human Rights.
Saint Joseph University is a private Lebanese university established in 1875. The Global Campus of Human Rights brings together around a hundred universities around the world, seeking to advance human rights and democracy through regional and global cooperation for education and research on these themes. Aligned with this, Voluntas’ Center for Applied Meaningfulness rests on the belief that meaningfulness is a better way of measuring societal well-being or human progress than existing indexes such as GDP or happiness. Whilst Voluntās has already measured and explored the impact of meaningfulness across organizations, the Center for Applied Meaningfulness investigates meaningfulness across all aspects of life – including within education. The MoU between Voluntas and the ArMA is therefore closely aligned with the overall purpose of Voluntas and the Center for Applied Meaningfulness.
of students struggle to maintain their well-being
Based on the MoU, Voluntas and Saint Joseph University will collaborate to uncover the anatomy of meaningfulness amongst students of the ArMA. This will be done through the implementation of meaningfulness surveys throughout the program where the core drivers of meaning will be measured. Furthermore, Voluntas will be actively participating in the elaboration and preparation of lectures related to democratization, applied research in human rights, and transition processes in the MENA. The partnership will also offer ArMA students the opportunity of completing internships at Voluntas, as well as see the implementation of events on applied meaningfulness in Beirut.
As an initial phase, the Voluntas-ArMA MoU will be active until 2025. As such, Voluntas and ArMA pledge to create more avenues for meaningful academic cooperation, while emphasizing the importance of fact-based research in the areas of democratization and human rights.
This project is another testament to the opportunities created through the bridging of academia and the private sector. In late august 2022, Voluntas was also part of the announcement of the world’s most meaningful university in Esbjerg having participated in the design of the concept and curriculum. As such, at Voluntas we humbly approach education as not only a universal human right but also as a pathway to realize human potential, across all disciplines and pathways of life.
More and more students suffer from loneliness, stress and unhappiness. All learning starts with self-understanding and insight into who you are and want to become, as well as what you can and cannot do. We therefore need to educate people for life skills through a culture that stimulates self-insight and self-respect and thus the foundation for a healthy and meaningful life.
Founder and CEO of Voluntas
On 10th January 2023 Voluntās and the Center for Applied Meaningfulness took a giant stride towards establishing meaningful academic collaborations in India when signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tata Institute of Social Sciences – Asia’s oldest school for professional social work.
Esbjerg wants to create the world’s most human university with a central focus on education, human development and a high degree of belonging.
Voluntas and the star architect company Bjarke Ingels group are supporting the project.
Based on Morten Albæks philosophy of a meaningful life, the students must embark on an educational journey based on becoming self-realized people who master their encounters with life’s coincidences, opportunities, and challenges.
Voluntas launches “Nos Racines – Our Roots”: Preventing violent extremism in Tunisia, with a special focus on youth and women.
In recent years, Tunisia has undergone profound political and social changes and currently faces a severe economic crisis The unemployment rate reached 18.4% in 2021, with 40% of under 25s and 24.8% of women out of work. There are growing disparities in living standards between regions and political participation has declined.
Within this context, radicalisation, and exposure to violent extremism –in part linked to the phenomenon of the return of jihadist fighters (foreign fighters) – is a major challenge in Tunisia, particularly among marginalized youth. This risk is aggravated by the lack of detection mechanisms throughout the country and the absence of continuous dialogue between young people and public authorities, particularly the security sector.