Universalism in a Multicultural World, Busan, Korea

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Theme: Universalism in a Multicultural World
Type: 1st World Humanities Forum
Institution: Korean National Commission for UNESCO
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Korea
Busan Metropolitan City
Location: Busan (South Korea)
Date: 24.–26. November..2011
Deadline: 31.August. 2011
Web: http://www.worldhumanitiesforum.org

The First World Humanities Forum is co-organized by UNESCO, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Korea, and Busan Metropolitan City and will take place in Busan from 24 – 26 November, 2011. Uniting researchers, scholars and practitioners in the humanities, the forum aspires to facilitate a collective reflection on the key challenges and questions confronting the world in the 21st century under the general theme of “Universalism in a Multicultural World.” Debates on universalism and multiculturalism are part of the discourse, ideological grounds, and daily flows of what we refer to globalization or hyper-modernity. And while social scientists have made vast contributions to exploring these issues over the course of the last 30 years, the role of the humanities in the critical examination of globalism, universalism, and multiculturalism has yet to be adequately foregrounded and explored. The World Humanities Forum will thus draw on the humanities to respond to the challenges of being human in the 21st century. Moreover, understanding globalization to be a dynamic and processual phenomenon, the Forum will attempt to reassess concerns about universalism and multiculturalism in light of the new global configurations and processes.In this age of globalization, the multicultural social reality seems to be at risk, in the context in which environmental pressures and rapid scientific and technological progress are further challenging the basis of shared universal values. Until recently, multiculturalism has been promoted as a set of ideas and policies that can ensure peace and coexistence on the basis of mutual recognition. The diversity of cultural heritage of humanity is the essential and powerful sources for creation and it seems to be our crucial responsibility to transmit them to the future generation who will appropriate themselves for their own creation.

Multiculturalism, as developed in the last third of the 20th century, seemed to offer a way of preserving diversity in the midst of rapid social change and increasing interconnection of cultures. Despite some successes in addressing entrenched inequalities and mutual suspicion in the society, however, the global economic crisis and related socioeconomic conflicts around the world, along with the rapid pace of social change, have led to questions about the validity of the multiculturalist argument claims.

The crisis of a multicultural society and the weakening of the multiculturalist arguments pose a new challenge for humanity. Responding to its calls for a new universal value system, such acknowledgements of the need for universal values are not completely novel. Our Creative Diversity (1995), the report of the World Commission on Culture and Development organized by UNESCO, previously identified the need for exploring global ethics building on universal human values and principles. The pursuit of universal human values may be the key to solving the various socioeconomic problems challenging human society.

Lacking a consensus made by the international community on the universal values, future generations are likely to face severe conflict. The values of cultural diversity must not be forsaken. The differences among nations, races, and religions and the importance of such diversity must be respected for mutual creation by exchange and by dialogue. We must acknowledge the existence of universal human values and consider the promotion of these values as humanity’s principal task. Inter-cultural dialogue would not be possible if all human beings or cultures were fundamentally different. On the other hand, if all human beings and cultures were alike, there would be no need for communication and dialogue. Furthermore, we need to take account of the increased recognition of interconnectedness between humans and their environment as well as of the impact of science and technology on the very question – what does it mean to be human?


Researchers and practitioners in the field of humanities are invited to submit abstracts for paper presentations for the upcoming World Humanities Forum. Abstracts relevant to any session themes and research and practice of humanities and its effects will be considered. The Steering Committee will endeavour to schedule abstracts according to authors’ preferences but reserves the right to decide on the final form of presentation.

We are particularly seeking proposals on the following topics within the realm of humanities:

– Cultural Relativism and Universalism
– Multiple Identities in the Age of Globalization
– Status and Prospects of Conflicts among Civilizations
– Universal Ethics and Dialogue of Cultures
– Global Ethics: Inclusion and Exclusion
– The Boundaries of the Human
– Beauty and the “good”: Poesis, Aesthetics, and Ethics

Please see Appendix 2 on the conference website for further details:


The overall objectives of the Forum will be as follows:
– reflect on key challenges and questions facing humans today from the perspectives of human sciences;
– examine the status of human sciences in the context of such challenges and questions; and,
– promote the importance of the role of human sciences and the reflection on humanism in addressing challenges and questions.


– Deadline for Paper Abstract Submission: August 31st, 2011
– Notification of Acceptance: September 9th, 2011
– Deadline for Full Paper Submission (Camera-Ready Copy): October 20th, 2011
– Conference Date: from November 24th to 26th, 2011


Abstract(s) must be written in KOREAN, ENGLISH or in FRENCH.


We welcome abstracts submitted via e-mail (whf_paper@unesco.or.kr) or by fax (+82-2-6958-4123). Please make sure to use the right template. In addition, please fill in and submit the identification form with your abstract. For deteils see the conference website: http://www.worldhumanitiesforum.org

All abstracts must not exceed 500 words (excluding bibliography) and should include Minimum 3 / Maximum 5 keywords that reflect the content.

Please do not submit multiple copies of the same abstract. All abstracts will be subject to review. Once submitted, modifications cannot be made to the abstracts. In case of technical difficulties, please contact us at whf@unesco.or.kr.


Each author will receive a confirmation e-mail informing that the abstract has been received. If there is no confirmation after abstract submission, please contact us at whf_paper@unesco.or.kr. Abstracts will be reviewed and information regarding acceptance and schedules will be sent to authors by September 5th, 2011.

Abstracts accepted for presentation will be duly published. Instructions on the preparation for full text papers will be included in the acceptance notification.


There is no registration fee to participate in the forum, but please note that other incurred fees related to travel and accommodation should be borne by each participant. Applicants who need financial support for participation can apply to the WHF Secretariat for funding. A limited number of applicants, based on their financial status, will be selected and provided with full or part support for the participation costs. For more details, please contact the Secretariat by e-mail (whf@unesco.or.kr).


Korean National Commission for UNESCO – Secretariat
26 Myeongdong-gil(UNESCO Road)
Seoul, 100-810
Tel. +82-2-6958-4123/4125/4138/4273
Fax: +82-2-6958-4252
Email: whf@unesco.or.kr
Web: http://www.worldhumanitiesforum.org