Highlights of the 31st Annual Conference of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies

In collaboration with the “World Dignity University”-Initiative and the SEKEM Friends Association Scandinavia the network “Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies” (HumanDHS) hosted its 31st annual conference at SEKEM and Heliopolis University from September 21st to 24th. With a special focus on water and agriculture, a series of workshops took place during the first three days at the SEKEM Farm. Not only from different countries, but also with different ages and cultural backgrounds were the attendees. Academics, farmers, artists, students and education experts participated in this interactive event and exchanged perspectives and knowledge on the main topic: “Dignity and Innovation – Strategies for a Sustainable Future”. On the fourth day, a public workshop was held as a crowning event to the conference at Heliopolis University. Students and staff from the university, as well as the participants, engaged themselves in discussing the relevance of human dignity to climate change, sustainable agriculture and food security issues.

“I have committed my life to end the cycles of violence, resulting from people humiliating others or putting them down,” Evelin Linder, SEKEM Friend and President of HumanDHS

The HumanDHS is a global and transdisciplinary network of like-minded academics and practitioners, whose work is inspired by universal values of dignity, caring and mutual respect. Based on the same notion, the “World Dignity University”-Initiative was founded with the vision of building a human-to-human network as a powerful approach to realizing an inclusive and creative model of learning. “We prefer to call ourselves Nurtures of Dignity,” said Evelin Linder the founding president of HumanDHS, while introducing herself. “I have committed my life to engage with people and communities around the world to end the cycles of violence, resulting from people humiliating others or putting them down.”

The two SEKEM Friends, Evelin Lindner and Ragnhild Nilsen

Together with the committed SEKEM Friend and founding member of the “World Dignity University” Ragnhild Nilsen, Evelin facilitated a workshop named Dignilogues. In this context, they paid attention to questions, such as: “How would a dignified future look like?”, or “how to ensure access and equity in dignity for all humans?”.

Circle of Love

With a suitcase full of various stuff, such as accessories, postcards or old and new pictures, Evelin had shown up during the conference. “Those are gifts from people to other people all over the world, whom I later link together via emails,” Eveline explained. “I live in a global village. So, I do not consider myself travelling, but I move from one home to another.” Gifts are offered by people who participate in the events held by the dignity-activist. She takes pictures of them and then links them with others who chose the gifts. The gift receivers then also offer presents and thereby get connected to others again.

Evelin Lindner the long-standing SEKEM Friend with her Circle of Love.

“Dignity is not about defending one’s honour. Dignity is lived and felt when we are authentic and playful,” Ute Devika, Founder of Devika Coaching

Among the participants was Ute Devika, founder of Devika Coaching & Consulting. The certified Life Coach engaged the conference attendees in a Laughter Yoga class, which created a delightful atmosphere. “There can be no real sense of dignity without joy,” said Ute, who was the first introducing Laughter Yoga in Egypt. “Dignity is not about defending one’s honour, but it is lived and felt when we are authentic and playful.”

Education and human dignity

Furthermore, Mohamed Anwar, Lecturer for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) at Heliopolis University presented the link between education and human dignity. “Promoting principles of dignity and mutual respect through education will, later on, automatically result in disseminating sustainable farming practices,” he said during the public workshop. In several interactive workgroups the participants agreed on: “Sustainable environmental practices will help us in tackling challenges like climate change or food insecurity, and thereby enable equal access to human dignity.”

Workgroup discussing the relevance of education to human dignity.

The workshops held at Heliopolis University were completed by inspiring art session, by which the participants received insights into the unique Core Program offered by the university. And finally, the two SEKEM Scandinavian Friends awarded Dignity certificates to all attendees.

Singing to the SEKEM Founder Ibrahim Abouleish.

A song to the SEKEM Founder: “You are not alone in the weaves of the night. In my eyes, your pearl shines.”

On the sidelines of the conference, the participants also visited different SEKEM institutions. Truly touching was their visit to the grave of the SEKEM Founder Ibrahim Abouleish. There, Ragnhild taught her fellows a song that they sang together with a deep dedication to Ibrahim Abouleish and to “every person who feels alone in this world.” “We are all living in a globally connected community”, she heartened the participants and sang: “You are not alone in the weaves of the night. In my eyes, your pearl shines.”

Noha Hussein

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