The Third Annual Meeting of UNESCO Chairs in India, conducted by UNESCO New Delhi, was attended by Dr. Maneesha V. Ramesh (UNESCO Chair on Experiential Learning for Sustainable Innovation and Development, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham) and Dr. Bhavani Rao R. (UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham).

As the world continues to endure the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, research and academic institutions have been at the forefront of some impactful responses on the ground. Against this backdrop, UNESCO New Delhi organized the virtual meet on March 12, 2021.

At the outset, Mr. Sudheera Kumar Samantaray (Deputy Secretary, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Government of India), highlighted the importance of UNESCO Chairs in accomplishing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly those closely linked to UNESCO’s mandate.

Eric Falt (Director, UNESCO New Delhi) welcomed all participants and noted how the past 12 months have only exacerbated the challenges related to the inequality the world was already facing, particularly those in vulnerable situations, as well as the enormous hurdles for peace and sustainability. He further recognized the results jointly achieved across UNESCO’s mandate and expressed UNESCO’s wish for this year to have a further impact on the ground.

Mr. Falt also welcomed the two new chairs into the network, Dr. W.G. Prasanna Kumar (UNESCO Chair on Experiential Learning, Work Education and Community Engagement) and Prof. Amareswar Galla (UNESCO Chair on Inclusive Museums and Sustainable Heritage Development).

The meeting allowed for exchange around the COVID-19 response implemented by UNESCO Chairs in India, their current priorities and future actions. The annual meeting provides a platform for collaboration and enhanced coordination between UNESCO New Delhi and the network of UNESCO Chairs in India, as well as among the Chairs, hosted in universities and research centers across the Indian sub-continent.

The UNESCO Chairs program in India currently includes 15 UNESCO Chairs, with other institutions in the process of establishing a Chair. Globally, the network comprises 700 institutions in 116 countries to promote international inter-university cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative networks.

Apart from Amrita, the meeting included the participation of Chairholders or representatives from all UNESCO Chairs in India, namely:

  1. Prof. Vishwanath D. Karad (UNESCO Chair in Peace, Human Rights and Democracy, MIT World Peace University)
  2. Prof. M. D. Nalapat (UNESCO Chair for the Promotion of the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, Manipal Academy of Higher Education)
  3. Dr. Priyankar Upadhyaya (UNESCO Chair for Peace and Intercultural Understanding, The Banaras Hindu University)
  4. Dr. Rajesh Tandon (UNESCO Chair on Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA)) 
  5. Prof Vinod Pavarala (UNESCO Chair on Community Media, The University of Hyderabad)
  6. Prof Manish Shrivastava (UNESCO Chair in Climate Science and Policy, TERI University)
  7. Dr. Asis Goswami (UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Adapted Physical Education and Yoga, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University)
  8. Dr. Michael Sebastian (UNESCO-Cardinal Paul Poupard Foundation Chair on Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, St Andrew’s College of Arts, Science and Commerce)
  9. Dr. Neelkanth Chhaya (UNESCO Chair on Culture, Habitat and Sustainable Development, Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design and Technology) 
  10. Mr. Muhammed Favaz and Mr. Raheemudheen (UNESCO Chair on Community-based Disability Management and Rehabilitation Studies, University of Calicut)
  11. Dr. W. G. Prasanna Kumar (UNESCO Chair on Experiential Learning, Work Education and Community Engagement, Mahatma Gandhi National Council of Rural Education)
  12. Prof Amareswar Galla (UNESCO Chair on Inclusive Museums and Sustainable Development, Anant National University) 
  13. Dr. Pushpalatha (Prospective UNESCO Chair on ‘Conservation of Indigenous Culture and Heritage’, Institute of Tribal Studies and Research, University of Calicut)
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