Right Livelihood International Conference Unites Global Activists at UC Santa Cruz

From April 23-27, the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) hosted the Right Livelihood International Conference , a gathering that brought together Right Livelihood Laureates, student activists and community organizers across the globe interested in human rights, sustainability, peace, and justice. This event also celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Right Livelihood Center at UCSC and we’re excited to share that three Global Campus students were able to attend!

Right Livelihood Laureates Phyllis Omido from Kenya, Juan Pablo Orrego from Chile, and Chandaravuth Ly from Cambodia had a key role in the conference, which aimed to foster solidarity among student activists and equip them with the skills needed to address pressing global issues.

What our students shared as highlights of the event was the utilization of three innovative facilitation methods: the World Café, Open Space Technology, and Graphic Recording. These approaches encouraged participants to express their ideas and interests freely, leading to the formation of key priorities that shaped the conference agenda. This collaborative process underscored the importance of inclusive dialogue in building an involved international student network.

Along with this, another highlight of the conference was an event at the UCSC Silicon Valley campus titled “Silicon Valley and the Just Transition to a Green Economy: A Conversation with Right Livelihood Laureates.” This event featured a groundbreaking dialogue between business leaders from Silicon Valley and the laureates on extractivism and the transition to clean energy. Unlike typical confrontations between environmental activists and energy entrepreneurs, this conversation was notably constructive, with both sides finding common ground and discussing viable solutions for a sustainable future.

Student activists also had the unique opportunity to share their experiences during UCSC lectures. Our students used their background in human rights and international law to discuss the legal criteria for proving the crime of genocide in courses on Global Trade and Human Rights. These interactions allowed students to connect academic theory with real-world activism, enriching the learning experience for all involved.

The conference concluded with a resolution to establish monthly virtual meetings, planning for future conferences and additionally, the participants agreed on forming working groups, each mentored by a Right Livelihood Laureate, to efficiently execute the network's mandate.

Furthermore, in the aftermath of the conference, our students started to engage in the student network that was created within the framework of the conference, and are looking for additional ways to connect students on local and regional levels.

This conference serves as a call to action for students interested in making a difference. By bringing together a diverse group of activists and fostering collaborative dialogue, the Right Livelihood International Conference at UCSC has laid the groundwork for a powerful global network dedicated to creating a better future.

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