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ACU member introduction: International collaboration by Professor (Dr) C Raj KumarFounding Vice-Chancellor at ACU member OP Jindal Global University, India.

The future of the world will depend upon our ability and capacity to deal with adversities and challenges. From responding to COVID-19, to protecting the environment and building peaceful, pluralistic communities, our fragile planet will continue to face challenges – most of which will concern the sustainability of our future. Addressing such global challenges requires collective imagination and thoughtful action.

It is against this backdrop that the work of the ACU, including bringing together young minds across the Commonwealth, becomes increasingly important and significant. The future of our planet will depend upon our commitment to developing resilience and this work begins at the universities of the world.

Earlier this year, O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) partnered with the ACU, British Council, Commonwealth Secretariat, UNESCO-Chair in Community-based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, PRIA Youth Foundation and UNESCO-MGIEP to host youth leaders from 15 Commonwealth countries for the second Commonwealth Futures workshop on ‘Inspiring global citizens’. Marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, the workshop examined multidisciplinary themes relating to the concept of global citizenship such as participatory democracy, community engagement, peace, non-violence, and prevention of violent extremism.

Universities have a critical role to play in preparing young minds to go on and create sustainable futures. Key focus areas include developing curricula and pedagogies oriented towards sustainable development, fostering global networks and communities of knowledge, and building close networks with local communities.

At JGU, we are striving to work on a pan-university, multidisciplinary strategy to explore innovative and sensitive ways to teach, learn, work, and live. As a demographically diverse university, in a semi-rural region in northern India that still faces enormous social and economic developmental challenges, we are particularly conscious about creating a transformative institutional model in higher education.

Given the current global health emergency, the need to innovate within higher education is more pertinent than ever. Universities across the world are demonstrating agility and an openness to change as they adapt to new ways of teaching and working. At JGU we seek to do justice to the goals and aspirations of our students, even in times of such crisis, while ensuring the safety and wellness of our students, faculty and staff. Therefore, JGU was prepared to handle the unanticipated and complete immersion into virtual learning and online teaching, and a strong academic and digital infrastructure enabled us to smoothly transition to the online world to deliver over 400 courses online this summer.

We are delighted to have been able to be part of the Commonwealth Futures and ACU Digital Now events, and we look forward to further opportunities to collaborate with the ACU’s extensive network.

With warm regards,

Professor (Dr) C Raj Kumar
Founding Vice-Chancellor
OP Jindal Global University