In a video message to the opening ceremony of the 3rd World Humanities Forum, held on 30 October 2014 in Daejeon, Republic of Korea, the Director-General referred to human imagination as “our ultimate renewable energy”. A humane world in which the values of UNESCO can be realized depends on a humanistic imagination that can articulate and refine them in the face of transformative and rapidly changing forces.
The World Humanities Forum (WHF) was launched jointly by UNESCO and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea in 2011 to provide a space for humanities-oriented dialogue and discussion about what it means to be human, and the meaning of life in a time of global transformation. The WHF’s aim is also to strengthen research capacities and the role of the humanities in addressing global challenges.
The 3rd WHF, co-hosted by the Ministry of Education and National Research Foundation of the Republic of Korea, UNESCO and Daejeon Metropolitan City, took place at the Daejeon Convention Center from 30 October to 1 November 2014. It focused on “Humanities in the Era of Transformative Science and Technology”, thereby touching on such important themes for UNESCO as ethics of science and technology, the relation of science and technology with intercultural dialogue, and the socially transformative potential of science and technology. The question what it means to be human in the face of expanding scientific knowledge and transformative technological forces was central to the discussions at the 3rd WHF.
In the opening ceremony, the Director-General spoke alongside Mr Shin-ho Kim, Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Sun-taik Kwon, Mayor of Daejeon Metropolitan City, Mr Min Keun Chung, President of the National Research Foundation, Ms In-sik Kim, Chair of Daejeon Metropolitan City Council, and Mr Yersu Kim, Chair of the Organizing Committee of the 3rd WHF.
On 1 November 2014, UNESCO convened a plenary round table on institutional challenges for the humanities, with representatives from the Korean National Research Foundation, the US National Endowment for the Humanities, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Italian National Research Council and the Academy of Korean Studies.