Commonwealth Futures

A series of ACU and British Council organised workshops that convened Commonwealth students to explore solutions to globally intersecting issues.

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With more than 60% of the Commonwealth’s 2.4 billion people aged under 30, the voices of young people have never been more important.

From gender and LGBTQ+ rights, to equality of access, Africanisation and indigenous rights, students across the globe are setting new agendas for social debate. From protests to campus debates and social media campaigns, the student voice is being heard loud and clear across the world – challenging communities and governments to listen and work with young people to develop solutions to these intersecting issues and bring about real change.

The ACU and the British Council joined forces to organise a series of workshops in India, South Africa and the UK, reflecting on the role of student leaders in creating cohesive societies.

The venues were selected to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, an early Commonwealth scholar who lived, worked and studied in these three countries. Debates drew on Gandhi’s position as a lawyer and activist and his role in non-violent resistance and the peace movement, as well as reflecting on his contested role in current social and campus debates.

Centring on the subject ‘student leadership for social cohesion’, each workshop convened students from across the Commonwealth to share their unique experiences and gain the skills, tools and resources they need to help drive peaceful and effective change in their home institutions and wider communities. Ultimately answering the question: what future do we want for our Commonwealth?

Each workshop tackled intersecting themes of global importance in our rapidly changing world, including:

  • Security and stability in different cultural contexts
  • Education and skills for peace and cohesion
  • Social media; respect and understanding in an online context
  • Debate development for tolerance, respect and understanding
  • Effective advocacy and activism to foster social cohesion, inspired by the “Gandhi model”

Outcomes from the event series directly contributed to two policy forums in 2020 – the CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) Youth Forum in Rwanda and the British Council’s annual Going Global conference in London, UK.

The workshops

Commonwealth Futures: Youth Perspectives, Cumberland Lodge, UK, 1-3 December 2019

Commonwealth Futures: Inspiring Global Citizens, O.P Jindal Global University (JGU), India, 9-12 February 2020

Commonwealth Futures: Reimagining Peace, Durban University of Technology, South Africa, 11-15 March 2020