The Future we want, the UN we need – viewpoints of Tampere University student associations

In 1945, after two devastating world wars, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco and drew up the United Nations Charter. On 24th of October in the same year, the Charter was ratified and the UN officially came into existence. This is why United Nations Day is celebrated every year on October 24th. 

 

In the year 2020, the year of global pandemic with growing concerns about the changing climate and respect for human rights, the United Nations is turning 75 years old. The theme of the year is “The future we want, the UN we need” and the aim of this UN75 initiative is to be the world’s largest conversation about contemporary challenges and the future we want for our world. UN75 has been an open call for everyone to share hopes and fears for the future and contribute ideas on how we can make this a reality. The UN has organized surveys and different discussion platforms to make this happen, and we in TAYK wanted also to contribute to this global conversation. 

 

As a local association, we in TAYK wanted to raise discussion among Tampere University student associations, guilds and students. Our aim is to promote Tampere University students as diverse future professionals and their important input to this international dialogue now and in the future. 

 

To make this happen, first we asked student associations; in the field that you study, what kind of issues do you think should be discussed more often? What do you think are the key-issues in the future? Answers we received were very diverse because they came from diverse fields but it was very interesting to see that the same kind of themes appeared in these answers and they complemented each other in many ways. 

  • Worry about the future – It is perfectly normal for young people to be worried what the future might hold, but amidst all of the uncertainty that this peculiar year of 2020 has brought to us, this worry has deepened. For example Students in Lifelong Learning and Education program Mentor ry mention that it’s impossible to predict the future and it’s important to brace oneself to the changing future where the need for certain fields might not be needed anymore. Students in Information Studies and Media Studies UDK ry raises also similar concerns about the future; as technology is continually evolving and the role of automatization is increasing, do current jobs that we study for exist in the future? 
  • TechnologyUDK ry continues to mention that in our constantly evolving information society, the need for teaching, learning and developing new methods for data collection and retrieval is important. The Guild of Bioengineering Bioner ry adds up to this theme as they identified the role of technology and ethical questions as key-issues in the future. They referred in particular to how to develop functioning digital health care services and how to make sure an individual’s privacy is protected when the data gathered via different apps is continuously increasing. 
    • Ethics, equity and equality Bioner ry continues to bring up important ethical questions that we need more conversation on like animal testing and genetic modification. Questions about ethics and related to that also equality is also a cross-cutting theme in other answers we got. Medical students Tampereen Lääketieteen kandidaattiseura ry brings up the important theme of equality and equal rights and accessibility of treatment and health care, mentioning in particular the unfortunate hierarchical structure of health care system, and the vital importance of that matters of equality is put in practice in patient care. They also mention the recent statement from Finnish Medical Students’ association that the diversity of genders needs to be addressed in medical studies. Students of Health Sciences Salus ry complement these themes by noting the importance of supporting sexual and reproductive health and gender equality. Social Sciences students Interaktio ry emphasizes the need to address intersectionality of equality themes. Students in the teacher education program OKA ry mention the need to create a safe space and environment where children from different backgrounds can have equal opportunities to learn and to grow. They continue to point out that we have to keep thinking how classrooms can be places where intergenerational poverty can be reduced and how to make sure that we have enough resources to cater to individual needs of children. Mentor ry adds to this by raising an important point that it is important to consider all ages and make sure people don’t slip through the net out of reach from education services or other institutions.  

 

  • Climate change and internationality – In addition to ethics and equality, climate change is also one big combining theme of the answers. Interaktio ry begins by pointing out the belittling attitudes towards young climate activists and how we should support, not blame, the fight against climate change. Young people have taken the lead on this fight because it’s our future at stake, climate change being the most prominent threat to the physical environment, but also equality and peace around the world. OKA ry brings additional perspective to this by asking how can the school system raise future citizens who are climate and consumption conscious and active participants of civil society. Psychology students Cortex ry addresses the need to teach and understand multiculturalism in this changing world. This is an important question because the number of refugees is continuing to rise due to changing climate and areas in particular in the global south coming inhabitable. Salus ry keeps up with this theme by asking how to support health in environmental disasters and also to support the health of refugees. These questions connect to a larger theme of what kind of impacts climate change and its effects will have on public health? Tampereen Lääketieteen kandidaattiseura ry raise also concerns about how the refugee crisis will affect on equality and accessibility of health care and they wrap all of these themes together by mentioning the concept of One Health, where the interrelation of health, society and environment is combined. All of these sections impact health and sickness. 

 

 

We also asked how can we as youth/students increase dialogue? Even though the future is uncertain and there are many things that we need to address and take into consideration to build a better future for us all, at the same time we have many concrete ways to increase dialogue and awareness of these issues already! 

 

In the answers we got, the ways to participate in dialogue included organizing discussion events and encouraging interdisciplinary discussion between students. This way we can gain new perspectives and increase our knowledge of the world. At university level, we can participate in decision making for example in the TREY Council of representatives, and by proposing important themes for curriculum planning and also by participating as student representatives on faculty level. In addition to these, each of us can also increase the knowledge of our thesis’ supervisors by choosing contemporary themes to our thesis’! Last but not least, we can participate as active citizens of civil society to demand action or participating in politics ourselves by running in the upcoming municipal elections! 

 

It is really empowering to think about all the ways we can increase dialogue and raise our voice, the voice of young people, in all areas of the society; on individual level, association level, university level and societal level. We in TAYK encourage interdisciplinary discussion and dialogue inside and outside of the university. We agree that this is a very important way to deepen our understanding of different perspectives and viewpoints of the world. Individually, every one of us has so much to give to the world and our input on international dialogue is important. 

 

Nina Hokkala

Vice-Chair of TAYK ry

 

We want to thank the following associations, their chairs and board members for their contribution that made our input to UN75 dialogue possible:

 

Student association for students in Lifelong Learning and Education program Mentor ry 

https://mentorblogi.wordpress.com/ 

Student association for students in Information Studies and Media Studies UDK ry

http://www.udk.fi/ 

Student association for students in teacher education program OKA ry

https://www.okary.fi/ 

Student association for students in Psychology Cortex ry

https://cortexry.wordpress.com/ 

Student association for students in Health Sciences Salus ry 

https://salusry.fi/ 

Medical students’ student association Tampereen Lääketieteen kandidaattiseura ry

https://kandit.fi/ 

Student association for students in Social Sciences Interaktio ry

http://www.interaktiory.fi/ 

Guild of Bioengineering Bioner ry

https://bioner.fi/ 

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